The first time I heard (or even heard of) Janis Joplin was on the BBC’s classical music station, Radio 3. Back in 1968, it also brodcast ball-by-ball cricket commentary on England test matches. It being the school holidays and I being a bit of a nerd, I was planning to score the upcoming test match (I can’t even begin to explain that for non-aficionados of the game).
I was a little early for the cricket when I turned on the radio, and what came out was a song I was quite familiar with, but it was being sung by a voice I’d never heard, and in a way I’d never heard it sung before. It was on the cusp of life-changing.
It was, of course, the voice of Janis Joplin. Back at school for the autumn term, somebody bought in a copy of the ‘Cheap Thrills’ album, which features the version of Summertime that the BBC must have played (and is followed on Side One by the majestic ‘Piece Of My Heart’). Accept no substitute or pale imitations: Janis Joplin was utterly unique.
And what else could I use to illustrate this entry in my Lexicon but ‘Summertime’?
I was never particularly ‘political’ – not at school, not at university and certainly not now. Which isn’t to say that I don’t have personal political beliefs and opinions. Personal’ being the ooperative word. However, when you’re an idealistic teenager in the late sixties you couldn’t help but identify with this song by a pretty damn’ good San Francisco band who put out quite a few records that I’m still very happy to listen to.
My Music Lexicon