Friday, July 18, 2014

Janis Joplin - her last song

There is only one Janis Joplin - even Pink knows this despite of some similarities.

Her uniqueness is emphasized by the creative years of Rock&Roll, Psychedelic Punk, Blues and Pop from 1950'ies to 70'ies. After the Beatles revolution the big guys took over realizing that youth has money to invest on recordings. This led to the birth of the multi-billion industry of today producing slick popular music carefully targeted at audiences to make that hit song or a new idol.

With good reasons her interpretation of Summertime from Porgy&Bess is considered a masterpiece. The listener cannot but help to think who else that crying baby is but Janis herself.

Similarly, the enormous intensity of her performance of Ball and Chain at Monterey Jazz Festival, California totally captivated the audience with an impact few other white female singers have made.

The Woodstock generation of artists were living the music to the tilt and were not aware of the risks involved with Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds. Not only Jimmy Hendrix and Janis Joplin paid for the ignorance by their lives but certainly many anonymous young people around the world who imitated their way of life as the coolest thing.

Mercedes Benz
There are many other outstanding performances by Janis Joplin that remain classics of popular music. But her last recorded performance is "A song of social and political import"
"Mercedes Benz" is an a cappella song written by singer Janis Joplin with the poets Michael McClure and Bob Neuwirth, and originally recorded by Joplin. In the song, the singer asks the Lord to buy her a Mercedes-Benz, a color TV, and a "night on the town". According to Bobby Womack, Joplin was inspired to come up with the lyrics after going for a ride with him in his Mercedes-Benz. It was recorded in one take on October 1, 1970, along with a couple of rowdy verses of "Happy Birthday" sung for John Lennon. These were the last tracks Joplin ever recorded; she died three days later, on October 4. The song appeared on the album Pearl, released in 1971.

Mercedes Benz
Oh Lord, won't you buy me a Mercedes Benz?
My friends all drive Porsches, I must make amends.
Worked hard all my lifetime, no help from my friends,
So Lord, won't you buy me a Mercedes Benz?

Oh Lord, won't you buy me a color TV?
Dialing For Dollars is trying to find me.
I wait for delivery each day until three,
So oh Lord, won't you buy me a color TV?

Oh Lord, won't you buy me a night on the town?
I'm counting on you, Lord, please don't let me down.
Prove that you love me and buy the next round,
Oh Lord, won't you buy me a night on the town?

Oh Lord, won't you buy me a Mercedes Benz?
My friends all drive Porsches, I must make amends,
Worked hard all my lifetime, no help from my friends,
So oh Lord, won't you buy me a Mercedes Benz?

That's it!

Heh heh...

Chris Neal
Writers: Janis Joplin, Michael McClure and Bob Neuwirth
Recorded: 1970

It’s Thursday, Oct. 1, at the Sunset Sound recording studio in Los Angeles. Janis Joplin asks producer Paul Rothchild to roll tape. She has a song she’d like to sing.

The services of backing band Full Tilt Boogie, present and ready for action, will not be necessary. Joplin steps to the microphone and makes a declaration. “I’d like to do a song of great social and political import,” she says, a twinkle in her eye. “It goes like this.” Then she begins to sing, exercising soulful control over her enormous, whiskey-soaked voice: “Oh Lord, won’t you buy me a Mercedes-Benz? / My friends all drive Porsches, I must make amends …”

“It wasn’t a sad and tragic time,” Rothchild recalled in 1992 (three years before his death). “Fun was the underlying thing.” But the jovial atmosphere in the studio hid a secret: After a period of abstinence, Joplin had resumed the heroin habit that had dogged her throughout much of 1969. She explained to a friend that she was only using it to keep from drinking so much during the making of the album; alcohol hangovers hindered her performance in the studio.

On Oct. 3, Full Tilt Boogie laid down a backing track for the Nick Gravenites tune “Buried Alive in the Blues”; Joplin was set to lay down her vocal the following day. Work finished at around 11 p.m., and the star returned to her room at the Landmark Motor Hotel. There she passed away from a heroin overdose during the night. She was 27. Rothchild and company fought through their shock and grief to spend the next two weeks applying the remaining overdubs needed to complete the album. The result was dubbed Pearl, after a nickname she had lately adopted.

Outside the hotel on the night of her death sat Joplin’s car: not a Mercedes, but a Porsche she had bought in 1968 and paid friend Dave Richards $500 to paint in psychedelic colors. The hippie icon who sang, “My friends all drive Porsches,” was herself well aware of the real—if fleeting—pleasures to be found behind the wheel.

“She’d go against traffic on blind curves, with the top down,” Rothchild recalled, “laughing, ‘Nothing can knock me down!’

By Chris Neal

Oh Lord!
This catchy song by Janis Joplin begins with a rather ironic introduction and ends with a happy giggle as if the prayer is just a joke.

I am not able to judge is the emotion here something similar to John Lennon's mockery of the spirituality of Bob Dylan, kind of light-heart emptiness of the rich and famous. Spontaneous the song definitely is and genuine Janis. She could not know that the dealer would sell her too strong dose that would end her life and bring her to God in only a few days after the recording.

There are other singers in deep troubles who sang from their heart asking good Lord to help them.

For example, the manic depressive singer Donny Edward Hathaway (October 1, 1945 – January 13, 1979) fell or jumped to his death from a hotel room window. But he arrived to the presence of Lord with quite a different song than Janis Joplin.

If only Janis Joplin had publicly asked Lord also for other help and not just another car!

No comments:

Post a Comment