“You Are What You Settle For…”
“Cry Baby”, “Piece of My Heart”, “Ball and Chain” and “Bobby McGee” all have the poetic genius of the legendary rock star Janis Joplin in common. Her sound has been emulated and copied by many artists like Melissa Etheridge, Pink, Joss Stone and Amy Winehouse just to name a few.
Her songs were featured in an Off-Broadway musical “Beehive” and recently garnered a Tony Nomination for Mary Bridget Davies for the Broadway show “Love Janis”.
My first introduction to Janis Joplin, ironically enough, was as a cast member of “Beehive” at a t regional theater in Austin, Texas. Austin is the very same city where Janis’ legendary music career began to take shape.
September 1970, Janis Joplin was optimistic about her future. Why not? She was engaged, her latest album “Pearl” was about to drop and she was about to embark upon a fall tour her Full Tilt Boogie Band. Unfortunately, on October 4, 1970, Joplin was found dead of a heroin overdose. “Pearl” was released after her death and it’s hit single “Me and Bobby McGee” sold 4 million dollars and remains her biggest selling single and theme song.
In Oscar nominee Amy Berg’s (Deliver Us From Evil, West of Memphis) brilliantly and loving tribute to Joplin – “Janis: Little Girl Blue”, we are shown glimpses of a Janis Joplin the public rarely knew. A Janis Joplin who was a devoted daughter, friend and sister. A young woman, who wants so desperately to be accepted and fit in that the only place offering that comfort is on onstage with millions of “friends” who adore her talent, poetic sensitivity and fierce determination to be the best – no matter what the cost.
The “blue-eyed soul singer” from Port Arthur, Texas never fit in. Not her looks, not her ideals on life and certainly not her music nor the manner in which it was expressed.
We’ve all heard her story, but this documentary sheds light on the Janis Joplin, who was at heart a southern girl just wanting to be loved. Rock Critic, David Dalton describes Joplin as a woman with a “Huck-Finn innocence”. Narrated in her own words from letters she wrote her family and others over the years, Janis herself chronicles and dramatizes her story…giving us a peak at a more sensitive, socially aware and extremely prolific musical genius.
Janis Joplin’s sound was heavily influenced by old blues singers like Bessie Smith and Odetta (who was ironically dubbed “The Voice of Civil Rights” – something Janis Joplin felt very strongly about). Her chance meeting with Big Brother and The Holding Company coupled with another chance meeting with Clive Davis at the Monterey Pop Festival would find her a record deal at Columbia and eventually a solo career.
We become privy that the life of a rock star is filled with pressure pit falls that can make or break an artist,
Berg did an exemplary job of gathering interviews and anecdotes from family, friends, musical collaborators, band members and even a few former lovers. All have stories, but the theme is universal…they loved this “little girl blue”.
Janis: Little Girl Blue will have a limited release in select cities such as New York at the IFC Center and Los Angeles on November 27th, San Francisco’s Roxie Theatre on December 4th with other cities to follow shortly thereafter.
If you are a die-hard Janis Joplin fan, you will love this doc and be enlightened about this legendary diva.