We all have various ways we can divide our lives into segments. Befores and afters. Well, for me, one of those chronological divisors is before and after hearing Janis Joplin singing a rock song.
Her vocal chords are a sledgehammer applied directly to my heart . A blunt force weapon to render listeners into little piles of pulp. While her mythos is tied up in the hippie/druggie movements of the late ’60s, and, especially, given her early death, which makes it easy to overrate or pigeon-hole her. But I truly see her as a timeless and unique talent.
Joplin’s signature track is “Me and Bobby McGee,” but I prefer her in a looser and heavier context. She performed as lead vocalist for Big Brother & the Holding Company. In “Shape of My Heart,” she elevates a fun little ditty into something truly transcendent.
What I wouldn’t give for a few more dozen recordings of her at her peak… Rest in peace, Janis. I know you’re rocking some really killer clubs in the afterlife.