Love you, Sweet Pearl
by Joni Abilene
By 1967, Janis Joplin had left Texas twice, survived a toxic relationship and debilitating addiction, and discovered a ‘voice’ unlike any other. But still, the past held on, inflicting wounds and scars from the words of her contemporaries. She was ugly, strange, wild. Her ingenuity, her looks, even her femininity were criticized. It forged her into a steel-hard singer and leader of a cultural shift. Her long hair, marred skin, bra-less repose and open mouthed antagonism, all with a longing for acceptance, opened wide a new world. The beads around her neck, those beads of the past, those invisible chords of attachment, swung as she banged on an invisible door. Release, release, joyful release. Euphoria in this bottom of the barrel gluttony. I survived, you survived. We’re all gonna make it. Hey, baby, are you as angry as me? Are you as happy as me? You been through this shit too? Then, come on, baby. Dance. Those chords, those beads. One strand breaks and falls to her feet. A crowd cheers. She bends over and picks it up. The past has been severed. Ain’t never goin’ back to Texas again. I’m free.
You know the story. Janis became famous with Big Brother and the Holding Company, quit, formed two other bands, and then died on October 4, 1970 in a California hotel room, alone. Drug paraphernalia lay hidden inside a bedside table. Damn you, insecurity. Damn you, death.
She was a child. She was timeless. She sang about a world that was hers and welcome to it. She was the 60s and the 70s. And beyond. Her sound, her voice, those mannerisms, they were real and irreplaceable. There will never be another Janis.
Gone, but never forgotten. Love you always.
In honor of her life (and death) Cimarron Man and other stories is free today.
Have a beautiful day. Enjoy your beautiful life.