Several months ago, I embarked on a project that involves writing about several well-known rock stars. Not too many people know about my project, but one of my friends that I’ve been consulting and sharing with suggested I include Janis Joplin (along with a couple other women rockers). “UGH!” I thought. “I hate Janis Joplin. Why would I want to include HER of all people in my work?” Well, I couldn’t seem to shake the idea from my mind, so I did a little investigating to find out if there was a link between Janis and my project…and lo and behold, there was! But I needed to find out more about her….
For the past several weeks, I’ve been reading On the Road with Janis Joplin by author, musician and Janis Joplin’s road manager John Byrne Cooke (son of Alistair Cooke). There are several other books about her: One by her sister and one by her lover/roommate, but I decided this one would probably be the most unbiased look at her life.
Reading this book was slow going at first because, well…she’s not one of my favorite people! I was happy to see a couple Beatles references in the early part of the book as the author tried to put her early development into perspective with what was going on in the music world at the time. Janis was originally from Texas, but moved up to the Haight Ashbury section of San Francisco in the mid 60’s to join the band Big Brother and the Holding Company. She would end up having two more bands before her death in 1970, and would tour extensively with all of them. It wasn’t until her final album (that would have to be finished without her after her sudden death) that everyone would feel that she had finally learned to control her vocals to put out her very best album.
Interesting trivia from UtimateClassicRock.com:
The last recordings Joplin completed were ‘Mercedes-Benz’ and a birthday greeting for John Lennon. On Oct. 1, 1970, Joplin recorded the old Dale Evans cowboy tune ‘Happy Trails’ for the former Beatle, which is sort of spooky given the lyrics are “Happy trails to you, ’till we meet again.” The tune was titled ‘Happy Birthday, John (Happy Trails)’ and released on the Janis box set in 1993. Lennon told talk show host Dick Cavett that her taped greeting arrived at his home after her passing.
But a strange thing happened as I read further and further into Janis’ story. I came to love and respect her for who she was. This is a young woman who was voted “The Ugliest Man on Campus” at the University of Texas at Austin in her freshman year (I was told I was the ugliest girl in the 7th grade), and it would seem that she carried the scars from her unpopularity in high school and college with her into her career. To put it bluntly…she was lonely. Very lonely…and her drug use was to comfort herself through the pain. My heart aches for her now.
If you don’t know about Janis Joplin, but want to learn more about her, this book is a good place to start (I’ll probably end up reading the books by her sister and the one by her lover/roommate). I did get a little frustrated with the author going off on his own story a little too much for my liking, but all in all, this was a fine book. And for that reason…
I rate this book, 3 out of 4 Beetles!
Found this on the internet and found it terribly amusing! I decided to entertain my readers with it while I finish reading another great book for review…Enjoy!
So…you think you know the Beatles? Or, you want to learn more about the Beatles? Well, there is an online course called, “The Music of The Beatles” and it’s FREE! The course is offered through the website Coursera where you can take all types of free college courses. In fact, I encourage you to do a search on any topic in their search engine! The Music of The Beatles is offered on the site by the University of Rochester and the instructor is Dr. John Covach. It’s a seven week course, but if you can spare 2 hours a day, you can actually get through an entire week in just one day. I’ll be finishing up this course as you’re reading this on Sunday morning when I publish it. In the meantime, head on over to the site and check it out. If you’d like more than just a warm fuzzy feeling for finishing the course, you can pay the $49 to get a certificate for having completed it..but you’ll have to download and print it out at home.
Speaking of John Covach, he’s also the Program Chair for the upcoming Beatles symposium to be held September 27-29, 2019 at the University of Rochester. This three day event is titled, Come Together: Fifty Years of Abbey Road, and obviously will have presentations, interviews, etc. based on the Beatles’ album Abbey Road that was released in 1969. According to the website, the featured speakers include John Kurlander (engineer on Abbey Road), Andy Babiuk, Walter Everett, and Kenneth Womack …just to name a few. Currently, the symposium is still in the Call For Papers stage of being set up, so there are not many details on the website, but I would advice you keep up to date on it and check back often: Come Together: Fifty Years of Abbey Road
In the meantime, why not pick up a copy of Covach’s book, What’s That Sound?: An Introductory to Rock and It’s History
A month ago, I received an email from someone named Russ asking me about a tarot card review on my website. He said that he had done a Google search and found my website, but when he looked on my site, he didn’t see it. He went on to say that his son has created a set of Beatles Tarot cards and a companion book and asked if I had reviewed it. Uh….no! The reason he found my site was because of my review of the book by Yoko’s tarot card reader, but hey…I love tarot cards…and asked about his son’s website.
So here’s my back story…I’ve always had decks of tarot cards since I was a teenager (over 35 years). At one point in my early 20’s, I actually became quite good at reading them until a really spooky incident on New Year’s Day 1986 happened and I stopped. I picked it back up in my 30’s and then life got too busy to be bothered with reading. I still have my favorite deck…Legend: The Arthurian Tarot. The deck was given to me by a friend and they say that the best decks are ones given to you by a friend. I’ve had other decks, but never warmed up to them.
The point of telling you about me and my decks is to let you know that I’m no stranger to tarot decks, so when I went to look at this new Beatles Tarot site, I went in with my eyes wide open. (Note: If I really wanted to dig into the HTML code of this guy’s website, I could probably put a pic or two of his deck, but since he coded it so that it’s not easily accessible, I’ll assume he wouldn’t appreciate me posting any).
Several things caught my eye (and ear) after looking through the cards, which he displays every card he created in the 78 card deck. First off, he has music and interviews playing on each page, which I found terribly distracting. My next thought as I looked through the minor arcana cards was that I couldn’t find a real link between the images he created and the meaning of the cards (remember, I know how to read cards). His major arcana is pretty decent. My third thought was, “I hope Apple doesn’t see this, because he’s going to get a cease and desist letter from them!” I expressed these last two thoughts to Russ, the creators father and never heard from him again. I could have asked for a complimentary deck to review since I have no idea what the quality of the actual deck is, but I knew from what I had seen that I would never use it and I’m not into getting something for nothing just because I’m a reviewer.
So there is my story about this deck. My advice is to go to the website and check it out for yourself. Hopefully, you won’t find the background noise as annoying as I did. If you’re really into tarot decks or really into collecting all things Beatles, then by all means, buy a set! My guess is that after word gets out, Apple is going to put the kibosh on this and it will be a collector’s item!
Wouldn’t it be interesting to ask John Green what he thinks of this deck?
No review…no rating!
Some of you may remember me NOT reviewing a book called Mary’s Prayer several years ago because of my rule not to review books of people I do PR work for. Well, The Meaning of Contentment by Mary McGuinness is the follow-up book that was just released this past December 2018…And since Mary has been doing such a swell job of promoting her own books, she hasn’t needed my help in any way…so here’s a review of her latest book.
For those that haven’t read Mary’s Prayer yet, Mary McGuinness wrote the book to tell the story about her struggles when she developed depression and panic attacks in her mid 30s while working as an accountant in Glasgow, Scotland. She talks of being forced to drop out of the workforce and her need to make peace with the fact that things will never be the same for her. Mary talked a lot about how music, especially that of the Beatles and John Lennon, really spoke to her during this difficult time and helped her to understand what she was going through.
Now, Mary McGuinness has continued her personal story in The Meaning of Contentment. In this 256 page memoir, McGuinness continues the story of how despite her best efforts to return to the workforce after getting an Honors Degree in Psychology, the universe led her in another direction. It was though helping her elderly uncle John with his daily needs that Mary learned that sometimes life isn’t about working 9 to 5 and bringing home a paycheck and that maybe her focus should be about helping others who also struggle with the hardships of life. She learns that contentment is found in some of the most unlikely places.
It takes a brave soul to be as open as Mary McGuinness is in this new book (and in Mary’s Prayer). Combined, the books cover 20 years of her personal battle with depression and panic attacks. She also continues to tell the story of her love of The Beatles and John Lennon and how her trips to Liverpool and The Peace Tower in Iceland brought so much joy back into her life. And for that reason…
I rate this book, 3 out of 4 Beetles!