Janis Ian Life - Essay


(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

[Janis Ian] is a national phenomenon, a composer and singer who makes bitter poetry of teen-age dilemmas. Her most successful record, entitled Society's Child, detailed the woes of interracial dating…. Her first album, [Janis Ian, touched] heavily on prostitution, corrupted religion and children…. The second album, [For All the Seasons of Your Mind], explores such subjects as suicide and loneliness. Her folk songs, tinged with funereal dissonances, tear up the old folks at home. Their lyrics are outbursts at squaredom, declarations of independence from contemporary U.S. society. Yet, despite the refractory content of her music, she is that society's child. (p. 53)

Parents who finesse their parental responsibilities rank high on Janis Ian's long list of things bad….

Janis doesn't have much use for false gods either….

Just what exactly has happened to this girl to provoke such [disillusioned] lines?

"I saw all the hypocrisy up front, and I devised ways of getting around it. Love is groovy." She pauses. "Hate is the ultimate insanity."

Not altogether clear perhaps, but it is talk which makes perfect sense to a generation weaned on Dylan, Donovan and the Beatles, a generation which pays as much attention to the words as the music. (p. 56)

"I Am Society's Child," in Life (courtesy of Life Magazine; © 1967 Time Inc.; reprinted with permission), Vol. 63, No. 17, October 27, 1967, pp. 53, 56.