Her first hit, "Society's Child" at 15 created a huge stir with its interracial marriage themes. She received death threats and radio stations were hestitant to play the song. To Janis, growing up in a neighborhood with more black people than white people, it was a song about life. Same with "At Seventeen". Remember the moving lyrics?
That love was meant for beauty queensAnd high school girls with clear skinned smiles
Who married young and then retired.The valentines I never knew
The Friday night charades of youthWere spent on one more beautiful
At seventeen I learned the truth.And those of us with ravaged faces
Lacking in the social gracesDesperately remained at home
Inventing lovers on the phone
Who called to say come dance with meand murmured vague obscenities
It isn't all it seemsAt seventeen.
What was evident to me, in reading "Society's Child" was that Janis had grown up in the world of music certainly, but more broadly in a world of artistic expression that included music, art and certainly, reading. She said to me:
Tune in for our conversation this week. Or check the archive.