Category: happy janis

Janis Joplin with her Porsche convertible, San Francisco, by Jim Marshall.

Just Janis Joplin and a guitar: Me and Bobby McGee demo, July 28, 1970. 

What a gem this is! Janis playfully lamenting that her Texas accent is back, to the delight of producer Paul Rothschild and the fellas in the booth, followed by an achingly intimate first take on “Me and Bobby McGee” that reveals the searing pain that you believe would make her willing to trade all of her tomorrows for a single yesterday. 

She never sounded more vulnerable, more melodic, and not-so-ironically when you think about it, more powerful. Set yourself at the feet of a master storyteller and prepare to be amazed by a song you only thought you knew.

The familiar (perhaps now even too-familiar) Full Tilt Boogie Band version of the single was released on January 11, 1971, and would spend 9 weeks at #1 on the Billboard Hot 100. It’s surely been played somewhere on earth every hour of the day since then.

The album Pearl was released the same day and also spent 9 weeks at #1 (the last week of February, and all of March and April), winding up as the 4th best-selling album of 1971.

Janis hadn’t quite completed work on Pearl before she passed, but this was hardly the work of bone-picking scavengers capitalizing on her tragedy. On the contrary, this was the celebration of an artist entering a peak whose height we’ll never know. As you’ll hear here, even Janis had no idea what she was about to unleash. 

Unleash she did, nevertheless.

(Tip o’ the hat to the fantastic Barry Feinstein photos in this clip, and the strongest possible recommendation to check out the rest of the gems on the Pearl Legacy Edition, available at your favorite retailer and streaming at Spotify.)

Janis Joplin in London, April 1969, by Malcolm McNeill. Not many things look happier than Happy Janis.

Janis Joplin from the photo session for the cover of her January 1971 album Pearl, by Barry Feinstein (the year’s 4th best-selling elpee)

Janis & Janis, both by Baron Wolman

Janis Joplin, Ten Vintage Photographs by

Francesco Scavullo, 1969 on Paddle8

Janis Joplin at Spaulding Taylor’s house, San Francisco, 1968 by Baron Wolman

Janis Joplin and Johnny Winter, Madison Square Garden 1969, by Steve Banks, from the photo gallery for Raisin’ Cain: The Wild and Raucous Story of Johnny Winter

(The two also performed together in Boston, which is how these photos are frequently labeled…but I’m gonna go with the credits in the book!)

Janis Joplin on The Ed Sullivan Show, 1969, by Jim Cummins

Not many things look happier than Happy Janis, except maybe Happy Janis in her hand-painted Porsche convertible with her dog George. Photo by Jim Marshall.