Thursday, March 04, 2010

OK Janis

Well that does it - I am going to have to write a play about Janis Joplin. There's already a musical about Joplin, created in co-operation with her brother and sister, and there WAS going to be a movie called The Gospel According to Janis but apparently that's not happening now.

In any case, I think it's time for a straight play - with some music. Less biographical than the musical, I think.

It's really astounding how popular Janis Joplin is now. She was 27 when she died, 39 years ago, and MY blog gets hits from people Googling her name all the time. Granted I've mentioned her by name several times in the past couple of years, but to give some perspective: I've mentioned Paul Krugman many more times - and Krugman is alive and kicking, writing for the NYTimes, recently won a Nobel Prize, and just had a write-up in the New Yorker. And I don't think anybody has Googled their way to my site via "Paul Krugman" yet. I got 30 visits to my site JUST TODAY from people looking for Joplin.

I began researching the play today, I bought a copy of "Love, Janis" by Laura Joplin, Janis's sister. The book is not valuable for Laura Joplin's prose - she's a lousy writer. It is valuable for all of Janis's letters reprinted in the book. She was a very chatty letter-writer and surprisingly family-oriented for someone with such a hoochee-mamma reputation.

And in spite of her growing success, she was as star-struck as anybody, as in this example from a letter to her mother in April 1967:
Speaking of England, guess who was in town last week - Paul McCartney!!! (He's a Beatle.) And he came to see us!!! SIGH Honest to God! He came to the Matrix & saw us & told some people that he dug us. Isn't that exciting!!!! Gawd, I was so thrilled - I still am! Imagine - Paul!!!! If it could only have been George...

From this quote I learn that Janis Joplin and I have very different tastes in men. Seriously? George over Paul??? In spring 1967 Paul McCartney was not only an incredibly beautiful 25-year-old man, he had just seen the completion of the recording sessions of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band - which by all accounts got made due to his pushing for it. In fact, the story is that McCartney pushed to get the Pepper recording finished by April 1967 so that he could fly to the US to be with his girlfriend Jane Asher for her birthday. Which is why he was able to catch Janis Joplin's show in April 1967.

Other Joplin-Beatles trivia - Joplin recorded "Happy Trails" for John Lennon's birthday, but by the time the tape got to him, she was already dead.

Poor old Janis - she got some bad, extra-strength heroin - that's what did her in.