There was a weekend during the Summer of 1968, walking along one of the streets on the back side of Beacon Hill, when it seemed like everybody was playing the new Big Brother And The Holding Company album. You couldn't go more than twenty feet without hearing "Piece Of My Heart" or "Ball And Chain" coming from an open apartment window. The summer before, you would have been hearing the Red Sox game during their "Impossible Dream" season, but this summer, back in the time when nobody on that part of The Hill had an air conditioner in the window, it just seemed like everyone discovered Janis Joplin at the same time.
The West Coast had discovered Janis the year before at the Monterey Pop Music Festival, but it took a year for the word to spread, and for a major record label like Columbia to put their advertising support behind the group, creating a national audience and making it possible for them to tour behind the release of the album. All of a sudden, it was in the Summer air, everywhere.
So I bought my copy of the album for $2.79 at The Harvard Coop on Saturday, and immediately put it into constant rotation on our KLH stereo all weekend long.
Janis' story has become so trite and cliche over the years - the Jack Daniels, the outrageous outfits - that those generations who never had the opportunity to see her live in concert have no idea what they missed. Before her depression and substance abuse killed her, she was totally in control of her music and her performances.
Here she is at her peak. Mama Cass' reaction perfectly captures the moment.