...nothing here is promised, not one day... Lin-Manuel Miranda

Me and Janis
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So I'm a pretty standard white girl of Jewish background and liberal leanings growing up in an amazing time. And the music that I grew up with,well,it was fine. I still like so much of the stuff our parents played: Classical works, showtues (ah R&H, L&L).Benny Goodman, Glenn Miller. And the singers. Ella Fitgerald, Frank Sinatra, Sarah Vaughan, Nina Simone, Harry Belafonte. Lena Horne.

And then it changed. For me, close to everything changed. For us, "the boomers" so much was dfferent. i'm not close to pretending my life was unique. But from what I began as, then what I found, here I am. And when it changed, oh. It changed with the Beatles, Chad and Jeremy, Gerry and the Pacemakers.It changed with the Mamas and the Papas, the Byrds, and Crosby, Stills and Nash.With Cream It skewed around with Phil Ochs. Judy Collins and the sublime Joan Baez, . And then Jefferson Airplane (with Grace Slick) and Janis. And I never quite came back.

I'm sure, again, that there are thousands of nice girls just like me who feel that had something special with Janis Joplin. I sure do, and I will until I die. I bought Marilyn Hacker's Presentation Piece because I read her Elegy for Janis (maybe it appeared in Ms.? ) played the hell out of Cheap Thrills, and playedKozmic Blues endlessly. I remember getting Pearl and feeling so lost. Holding onto that cardboard sleeve four months after being shattered by her death. Me, the nice girl now a college freshman, feeling my way with music and politics.

I never saw Janis live. I almost did and I was stupid about it and well,shit, never mind. If I had gone to see her, well,I was never much of a hippie, flowerchild. I would probably have gone wearing jeans, sneakers, a tee shirt and my denim jacket with the peace patch and the anti-war buttons.

She was my passion music. She was my rage music. She was my anger music. She was my power music. She sang for all of us who were learning about rage, and passion and power. When I couldn't stand the hypocrisy, I played Janis. When I found out he was full of shit, I played Janis. When we lost, I played Janis. LOUD. Really really loud. She gave me power, when I had no idea what power was, how to get it, what to do with it.

On April 17, I attended a performance of "A Night With Janis joplin" which is history, concert, homage, story, song, rock and roll and power. The second I saw it was coming to Seattle, I knew I had to go even if, hell,it was fake. She's been dead, after all, for 46 years, right? I was a 17 year old Conn College freshman. I never got to Duffy Bishop's show "Janis" but here it was, decades later. I laughed at the idea that the tickets came through the senior apartment building I live in. My gods, we're old! I didn't know if I'd be attending alone or with a mob.Yesterday was the show's final Seattle performance. I was fighting to breathe within seconds. I was there. Oh gods, I was so there.

I've been reaching all afternoon and night for words, for adjectives, for understanding what this show did to me,and for me. It is only very, very recently that I would consider going OUT on a Sunday to a theater. It is only very, very recently that I've started to come out of the deep pit of loss and despair that I fell into when Stu died. Another never going back moment in my life.

I flew. I can tell you there's nothing more frustrating than being a disabled wheelchair using 63 year old Janis fan who can't do that much clapping, can't stand at the ovation, can't get her arms up to punch the sky. I flew. The show featured several women who represented some of the influences on Janis Joplin, the white girl from Texas: Odetta, Bessie Smith, Nina Simone and the great Etta James. Kick ass band with guitar and horns and every riff I know. It was not imitation. The lead performer was Janis for the duration of this rock show thing, but she put her own voice, interpretation, phrasing and movement on stuff. I know. Every note, every pause, every drum beat is part of my bones.

It is the strangest, strangest, weirdest feeling, to sit in that theater as I did and feel, once again, forever changed. She will be my music forever. The show glossed over her bad shit and her death, but I lived that. And yeah. But this was a celebration of a woman who embodied passion and power for many of us, certainly for me.

Oh yeah. I don't tend to name too many things (soft toys are soft toys, not things) but my first power wheelchair was named "Janis". The one I currently use is named "Pearl" in part because, well, um, it has features which I refer to - yes - as "full tilt boogie".

I went in full Janis: velvet, bangle bracelets, scarves, an almost boa, sparkly shoes, beaded necklace and a fabulous blue sequined beret, which I thought I'd lost years ago. I don't dress that way. But I was not alone.

So Janis. Thank you. You made me fly. Lady, you changed my life. You gave me strength. You gave me power.

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