(Trigger warning: nightmare-inducing photos ahead)
The little I thought I knew about Janis Ian was that she had a Black boyfriend when she was young (and sang about the anguish of racist opposition in Society’s Child), she was an ugly and lonely teenager with acne (as she sang about in At Seventeen) and then some time in midlife she came out as lesbian and so I bought my one and only Ian album, Breaking Silence.
Ha ha ha ha ha what an dolt! At least I wasn’t alone.
Turns out I was wrong on every single thing I thought I knew. And it turns out that Janis was wrong on almost every single thing she thought she knew, so basically we were twinsies.
Ian’s autobiography, Society’s Child (yes it shares the name with the song) is full of revelations, all those “I had no fricking idea” tidbits that make you appreciate someone even more.
Break through song at 15 years old? Check. Breakdown at 19 years old? Check. Someone stealing her cheques? Check.
Janis narrates the audio book in a way that makes it feel like you have just popped into your crazy best friend’s apartment for a chat – you know the friend that stuff always seems to happen to? The one who swears a ghost is stealing money from her while she sleeps? The one who lives in that crappy apartment because she isn’t nearly as rich as she thought she was? The one who talks about a song she likes and then whips out a guitar and starts singing it to you? That crazy, awesome, amazing best friend?
Yep, that would be Janis. I would listen on my way to work, from work, on lunch, at home, in the coffee shop while my wife glared at me across the table…
Ahem. Anyway… Get the audio book version so you too can connect with a crazy, awesome and amazing best friend who sings and tells stories. Now if I can get Janis Ian and Kristen Johnston together in the same crappy apartment, I might never leave.
Wait… I haven’t told you about Kristen yet…?
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