Piece of My Heart


Janis Joplin presents, the unpopular girl’s lament. This song, if you haven’t noticed, is exceedingly masochistic. Disturbingly so. Especially coming from Joplin, whose entire identity seems to have stemmed from the pain of growing up homely and unpopular in a bourgeois small Texas town, where she was bullied and mocked for her looks. Despite her outwardly tough ‘bawdy blues mama’ persona, Joplin struggled with crippling insecurity, which led to the alcohol and drug consumption that killed her. It was also, of course, what made her such an outstanding blues singer. When Joplin begged for a scrap of love from the stage, she was begging from the bottom of her heart. She famously described her performing life as making love to thousands of people only to go home alone. Which is incredibly sad, as is the fact that Joplin’s success as an artist was unbreakably intertwined with her inability to be a functional person. One can imagine that if she had managed to get the drugs out of her system, come to terms with herself, and found a fulfilling relationship, she may have quit singing and gone back to being a painter. As it were, though, she just spent a brief moment exemplifying the long sufferin’ woman of lore, the one who takes on all the abuse the world gives her and keeps on plowin’, just hoping to earn the love of one good man, or even a shitty one, anybody really, just for a minute. Sad.

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