The Flannery O'Connor Library

St. Pius X Catholic High School

Janis

782.42 GEO

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Janis : her life and music

George-Warren, Holly, author.

New York : Simon & Schuster, 2019.

xv, 377 pages, 32 unnumbered pages : illustrations (some color) ; 24 cm.

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This blazingly intimate biography of Janis Joplin establishes the Queen of Rock & Roll as the rule-breaking musical trailblazer and complicated, gender-bending rebel she was. Janis Joplin's first transgressive act was to be a white girl who gained an early sense of the power of the blues, music you could only find on obscure records and in roadhouses along the Texas and Louisiana Gulf Coast. But even before that, she stood out in her conservative oil town. She was a tomboy who was also intellectually curious and artistic. By the time she reached high school, she had drawn the scorn of her peers for her embrace of the Beats and her racially progressive views. Her parents doted on her in many ways, but were ultimately put off by her repeated acts of defiance. Janis Joplin has passed into legend as a brash, impassioned soul doomed by the pain that produced one of the most extraordinary voices in rock history. But in these pages, Holly George-Warren provides a revelatory and deeply satisfying portrait of a woman who wasn't all about suffering. Janis was a perfectionist: a passionate, erudite musician who was born with talent but also worked exceptionally hard to develop it. She was a woman who pushed the boundaries of gender and sexuality long before it was socially acceptable. She was a sensitive seeker who wanted to marry and settle down--but couldn't, or wouldn't. She was a Texan who yearned to flee Texas but could never quite get away--even after becoming a counter cultural icon in San Francisco. Written by one of the most highly regarded chroniclers of American music history, and based on unprecedented access to Janis Joplin's family, friends, band mates, archives, and long-lost interviews, Janis is a complex, rewarding portrait of a remarkable artist finally getting her due."--Publisher's website.

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Editorial Reviews

Review by Publishers Weekly.
In this excellent biography, George-Warren (A Man Called Destruction: The Life and Music of Alex Chilton) paints a complex portrait of singer Janis Joplin (1943-1970). Drawing on archival materials as well as interviews with Joplin's friends, family, and bandmates, George-Warren begins with Joplin's life, stretching back to her childhood in Port Arthur, Tex., where she would "publicly flaunt her individuality." She was an outsider in high school and, in 1961, moved to Austin, where she attended the University of Texas and sang black music in a segregated folk music bar. Two years later she moved to San Francisco and immersed herself into the psychedelic rock scene, where she developed an addiction to heroin-on which she would overdose in 1970. George-Warren explores Joplin's evolution as a singer, including her early incorporation of Otis Redding's vocal techniques into her own performances, as well as her moments of impulsive brilliance, such as her first time singing "Bobby McGee"-live in Nashville in 1969, having just learned it-which she would record only a few days before her death. Indeed, as the author points out, a lonely Joplin spent the last year of her life "trying to find a way to reconcile her ambitions as a singer with her desire for some kind of loving attachment." George-Warren beautifully tells a moving story of a woman whose life and music inspired a generation. (Oct.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Review by Library Journal.
This superb biography captures singer Janis Joplin's complex essence, beginning with her Texas youth and early performing years through often stressful recording sessions, tours, and sold-out concerts. With her distinctive voice and onstage style, Joplin shared her unforgettable rock and blues sound with adoring audiences while privately craving love, approval, and a more traditional life. George-Warren (A Man Called Destruction) draws from scores of interviews, family archives, and additional research sources to examine Joplin's songs, musical and stylistic influences (Bessie Smith, "Big Mama" Thornton), and interactions with fellow performers. The author also describes Joplin's personal life sensitively and honestly, from family relationships, fine arts aspirations, and friendships to insecurities, defiance of convention, sexual relationships with men and women, and struggles with addiction. Conservative 1950s Texas, San Francisco's countercultural Haight-Ashbury neighborhood in the 1960s, and the era's eclectic music scene are well rendered. Extensive notes complement the text. VERDICT This poignant and ultimately tragic account of an iconic performer is a must for Joplin fans, but anyone who enjoys a good biography will appreciate this exceptional work.--Carol J. Binkowski, Bloomfield, NJ

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Review by Booklist.
Joplin was called America's first female rock star, and George-Warren has written a biography as big, bold, and brash as its subject. She captures Joplin in all her frustrating and poignant complexity, not only her larger than life personality but also her insecurities, her bookishness, her intellect, and her deep desire for home. She embraced life, writes George-Warren, with a joyous ferocity even as she used alcohol and drugs to ward off the depression and bleak fatalism that dogged her. George-Warren describes Joplin's background ( I'm from pioneer stock ), her relationships with her brooding, atheist father and her outgoing, Christian mother; her neediness and feeling of being an outsider in her hometown of Port Arthur, Texas; and her deep-seated desire to be the center of attention even when she didn't feel she deserved it. George-Warren includes plenty of anecdotes, featuring the likes of Leonard Cohen, Kris Kristofferson, and Bruce Springsteen, who, at 19, turned down the singer's amorous advances, apparently terrified by her intensity. Joplin was a thrill-seeker, a hell-raiser, and a revolutionary, much of it to camouflage her self-doubt. She created a persona, an exaggerated version of herself, according to George-Warren, only to ask, What if they find out I'm only Janis? An insightful, compassionate, and, ultimately, tragic story of an artist gone too soon.--June Sawyers Copyright 2010 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.

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