5 Career-Defining Songs Of Janis Joplin
Janis Joplin live in 1970 - TheModernDayPirate / Youtube
Burning bright but ended abruptly at the age of 27 – such was the life of Janis Joplin. The raspy female rocker lived a pretty interesting life, starting from the bottom rung of the ladder and suddenly catapulted at the top of the music scene, thanks to the help of Big Brother and the Holding Company. Joplin could probably sing about the earth being flat and you’d believe her – it’s her innate authenticity and the raw power of her voice that helped her achieve career milestones – before getting cut short by a heroin overdose on October 4, 1970.
“Summertime” – Cheap Thrills (1968)
Joplin borrowed from George Gershwin’s classic from Porgy and Bess and made it her own with a touch of magic. With the countless reimagination of the track from other artists, Joplin’s controlled power in “Summertime” makes her version a cut among the rest.
“Ball and Chain” – Cheap Thrills (1968)
Nothing describes Joplin’s version of “Ball and Chain” better than the word simmer. She takes her sweet time with the track, not falling for the usual powerful vocal performance of her staples, and treads the song lightly with temperance and grace.
“Kozmic Blues” – I Got Dem O’ Kozmic Blues Again Mama! (1969)
Who knew that Joplin’s voice called to the gods of soul, especially in the song “Kozmic Blues”? She was just fresh from leaving Big Brother and this was her first solo stint, which was probably the reason of the record’s inherent inconsistency with its content – with the exception of this highlight of course.
“Piece of My Heart” – Cheap Thrills (1968)
“Piece of My Heart” was truly destined for Joplin, even if she wasn’t the first one to go through it. Her rendition of the song was so good that the morale of Big Brother was boosted to match her own energy, resulting in one of the best cuts from Joplin to be ever recorded.
“Me and Bobby McGee” – Pearl (1971)
Joplin doesn’t disappoint when she does a revamp of an original, just like this song by Kris Kristofferson. “Me and Bobby McGee” was transformed from a sleepy tune to a grating, frenzied track that showcased Joplin’s vocal prowess with the help of the Full Tilt Boogie Band.