Rock music icon, Janis Joplin, would be 78 years old today.
Joplin was the first solo female rock n’ roll star and her powerful, smoky voice put her in a class of her own. Although her recording career only spanned four albums due to her tragic and early death at the age of 27, her music still speaks to the souls of listeners today. In honor of her unforgettable impact on the music world, we’ve compiled a list of some of her greatest career moments.
Janis Joplin Teaches Lessons Through Hit Song Lyrics
“Break My Heart”
This song is about knowing that you’re love isn’t returned but loving someone so much that you let them break your heart again. During the song, Joplin sings, “I want you to come on, come on, come on, come on and take it. Take another little piece of my heart now, baby. Break another little bit of my heart now, darling, yeah, yeah, yeah. Have another little piece of my heart now, baby. You know you got it if it makes you feel good.”
Who hasn’t tried to bargain with a higher power for some of life’s luxuries? During “Mercedes Benz” Joplin sings, “Oh Lord, won’t you buy me a Mercedes Benz? My friends all drive Porsches, I must make amends. Worked hard all my lifetime, no help from my friends. So Lord, won’t you buy me a Mercedes Benz?”
Joplin has a way of portraying experiences in love that many of us have had but thought we were alone in experiencing. In “Cry Baby” Joplin consoles a man who’s lost his love but doesn’t realize that Joplin loves him more than anyone ever could. She sings, “Honey ain’t nobody ever gonna love you. The way I try to do. Who’ll take all your pain and your heartache, too. And if you need me you know that I’ll always be around. If you ever want me, come on and cry, cry baby.”
Janis Joplin’s Posthumous Song Goes Number One
“Me and Bobby McGee”
Joplin breaks our hearts again with “Me and Bobby McGee.” Joplin sings about the simple, love-filled moments she shared with Bobby McGee. The two seem blissfully content to simply be together until the end of the song when we learn that Bobby left Joplin. Joplin sings, “Freedom is just another word for nothing left to lose. And it ain’t nothin, nothing honey if it ain’t free. Feelin’ good was easy, Lord, when he sang the blues. You know feelin’ good was good enough for me. Good enough for me and my Bobby McGee.”
The song was released after Joplin’s passing. It hit number one on the Billboard charts and is still considered one of Joplin’s greatest hits today.
This song is about the neverending push to improve, especially in love. And, although self-improvement can be great, ceaselessly pushing forward without compassion can be destructive. Joplin sings, “Yeah I’m gonna try, oh yeah, just a little bit harder. So I can give, give, give, give him every bit of my soul. I’m gonna try, oh yeah, just a little bit harder. So I can show, show, show him love with no control, yeah. Hey! I don’t care how long it’s gonna take ya.”