Episode 169: “Piece of My Heart” by Big Brother and the Holding Company
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Episode 169 of A History of Rock Music in Five Hundred Songs looks at “Piece of My Heart" and the short, tragic life of Janis Joplin. Click the full post to read liner notes, links to more information, and a transcript of the episode. Patreon backers also have a half-hour bonus episode available, on "Spinning Wheel" by Blood, Sweat & Tears. Tilt Araiza has assisted invaluably by doing a first-pass edit, and will hopefully be doing so from now on. Check out Tilt’s irregular podcasts at http://www.podnose.com/jaffa-cakes-for-proust and http://sitcomclub.com/ Resources There are two Mixcloud mixes this time. As there are so many songs by Big Brother and the Holding Company and Janis Joplin excerpted, and Mixcloud won’t allow more than four songs by the same artist in any mix, I’ve had to post the songs not in quite the same order in which they appear in the podcast. But the mixes are here — one, two . For information on Janis Joplin I used three biographies -- Scars of Sweet Paradise by Alice Echols, Janis: Her Life and Music by Holly George-Warren, and Buried Alive by Myra Friedman. I also referred to the chapter '“Being Good Isn’t Always Easy": Aretha Franklin, Janis Joplin, Dusty Springfield, and the Color of Soul' in Just Around Midnight: Rock and Roll and the Racial Imagination by Jack Hamilton. Some information on Bessie Smith came from Bessie Smith by Jackie Kay, a book I can't really recommend given the lack of fact-checking, and Bessie by Chris Albertson. I also referred to Blues Legacies and Black Feminism: Gertrude “Ma” Rainey, Bessie Smith, and Billie Holiday by Angela Y. Davis And the best place to start with Joplin's music is this five-CD box, which contains both Big Brother and the Holding Company albums she was involved in, plus her two studio albums and bonus tracks. Patreon This podcast is brought to you by the generosity of my backers on Patreon. Why not join them? Transcript Before I start, this episode contains discussion of drug addiction and overdose, alcoholism, mental illness, domestic abuse, child abandonment, and racism. If those subjects are likely to cause you upset, you may want to check the transcript or skip this one rather than listen. Also, a subject I should probably say a little more about in this intro because I know I have inadvertently caused upset to at least one listener with this in the past. When it comes to Janis Joplin, it is *impossible* to talk about her without discussing her issues with her weight and self-image. The way I write often involves me paraphrasing the opinions of the people I'm writing about, in a mode known as close third person, and sometimes that means it can look like I am stating those opinions as my own, and sometimes things I say in that mode which *I* think are obviously meant in context to be critiques of those attitudes can appear to others to be replicating them. At least once, I have seriously upset a fat listener when talking about issues related to weight in this manner. I'm going to try to be more careful here, but just in case, I'm going to say before I begin that I think fatphobia is a pernicious form of bigotry, as bad as any other form of bigotry. I'm fat myself and well aware of how systemic discrimination affects fat people. I also think more generally that the pressure put on women to look a particular way is pernicious and disgusting in ways I can't even begin to verbalise, and causes untold harm. If *ANYTHING* I say in this episode comes across as sounding otherwise, that's because I haven't expressed myself clearly enough. Like all people, Janis Joplin had negative characteristics, and at times I'm going to say things that are critical of those. But when it comes to anything to do with her weight or her appearance, if *anything* I say sounds critical of her, rather than of a society that makes women feel awful for their appearance, it isn't meant to. Anyway, on with the show. On January the ninete
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