Archive for Big Brother & the Holding Company

40 Years Out: Janis Joplin’s Death

Posted in Rock Moment with tags , on October 4, 2010 by 30daysout

Forty years ago today, we learned of the death of Janis Joplin.  She was one of the finest blues singers ever.  The late 1960s counterculture, for all its “revolutionary” talk, still had a lot of old-fashioned values, as did the music.  Joplin’s blues were torn from the souls of Howlin’ Wolf, Big Mama Thornton and Ma Rainey and as a result her music is timeless.

When I was a sophomore in Port Arthur, Texas, Janis Joplin visited my high school in her hometown.  I’ve told this story before, but I was impressed by the down-to-earth, almost shy nature of this superstar who was idolized by kids with a background very much like her own.  You can sense this big, fragile heart in Big Brother and the Holding Company’s version of “Piece Of My Heart” as well as on the definitive “Ball and Chain.”

Janis in Port Arthur, a month before her death

Around that time, a lot of people in Port Arthur didn’t like Joplin because of her prominence in the counterculture.  The venom got even stronger after her death, but I think that might have been the old “generation gap” at work.  Today, Port Arthur has a little museum with a Janis Joplin exhibit as its centerpiece.  She is prominently featured in most of the advertising for the museum, so it’s possible the hate died along with the people who carried it – or they are simply more interested in making a buck off Joplin’s great legend.

And what a legend –  beginning with her electrifying 1967 performance at Monterey, to the muddy fields of Woodstock and finally to her death from an overdose, Janis Joplin managed to not only influence music but also make a powerful statement on the nature of female beauty, sexuality and women in general.  Let’s remember her as a strong but gentle soul.

MP3: “Piece Of My Heart” by Big Brother & the Holding Company

MP3: “Summertime” (live at Woodstock) by Janis Joplin

MP3: “Try (Just A Little Bit Harder)” by Janis Joplin

MP3: “Me And Bobby McGee” (acoustic early take) by Janis Joplin

MP3: “Mercedes Benz” by Janis Joplin

Janis Joplin official website

Check 0ut “Piece Of My Heart,” a documentary produced by KUT-FM in Austin, Texas

From Friend says Joplin’s spirit is alive in the room where she died

Woodstock: 40 Years Out – And Still Tie-Dyed

Posted in News, Rock Moment with tags , , , , , , on August 15, 2009 by 30daysout

Woodstock monument

It was the first, and most important, question of the day: just what does one wear to Woodstock?  We were headed to the “Heroes of Woodstock” show Saturday at Bethel Woods Center, on the grounds of the original 1969 Woodstock festival, and we Tie Dyewanted to fit in.  Thinking that a Hawaiian shirt might be a little ostentatious, by the time we got to Woodstock we knew we were wrong.  Because everywhere you looked, there was tie-dye.  Tie-dyed shirts, tie-dyed pants, possibly even a couple of tie-dyed people.   In fact the only thing more plentiful than tie-dye on Saturday was gray hair and body fat.

Saturday’s celebration was a kind of Hippie Halloween, and everyone dressed the part.  If it wasn’t tie-dye, it was a t-shirt from the Woodstock museum or from one of the roadside vendors dotting the highway in Bethel, N.Y.  So where the original Woodstock was a triumph of optimism and idealism, its 40th anniversary was a triumph too – of the capitalism and exploitation that didn’t quite work the first time.  But we hit that note yesterday … on Saturday, Woodstock was big enough for everyone: kids, people from all over the world, countless buzzing news media types and those old hippies who have long since gone to seed.  A good time was bought by all.

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