Significant Songs (46)

Trust Me

On a previous post about singers who died young, I wrote this about Janis Joplin.

Janis was a blues and rock singer, who lived a very short 27 years, until the lifestyle of heavy drinking and habitual drug use, finally killed her, in 1970. She was fairly unusual in the music industry, a white woman who could sing with the heart and soul of a black blues performer, as well as sounding Country at times too. She fronted the band ‘Big Brother and the Holding Company’ for three years, followed by a successful solo career up to her death. She performed at the Woodstock Festival, and the Monterey Festival, and had a series of hit records, mostly in the USA. Her album ‘Pearl’ is rightly regarded as a classic, and her recording of ‘Piece of my heart’, is considered to be the definitive version. She is in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and is cited by many later singers as a big influence on their own careers.

I mention the album ‘Pearl’, released in 1971, not long after her death. It contained her massive-selling version of ‘Me and Bobby McGee, as well as other songs that showcased her powerful voice, and distinctive tone. I was only 19 when I bought this album on vinyl. I listened to it a lot at the time, but soon moved on to other things, losing the record somewhere along the way. Many years later, I bought it again, this time on CD. I was again impressed by her performance, and particularly with one track, ‘Trust Me’. I found myself playing this over and over. Even now, I will often search out the CD, and put it on just to hear this track. It gets to me in a way I have no good explanation for. This simple blues song has had a hold on me, on and off, for 43 years. That is its significance.

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13 thoughts on “Significant Songs (46)

  1. Her music and voice could reach right down inside of your soul, taking it on a journey of a lifetime. It is so sad what happened to her and at the time I knew we just lost a great singer that most could never duplicate….She was and still is, “One of a kind….”

    Take care, Laura

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  2. What an incredible voice. Absolutely great! I love her.
    I don`t know “Trust me” but I like it. I only have one CD of her – it is a “Best of” and I love it very much.
    I`m searching on you tube, but I can`t found a song called Five stars. Can you help me? Wish you a nice evening.

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    1. When Gretchen mentioned ‘five stars’, she was writing in the sense of ‘A Five Star Review’, as in a very good one. When you see things like films or products reviewed here, they generally ask for a rating of between 1-5 stars. Gretchen was kindly giving me five stars for writing about one of her favourite songs. If this makes no sense Irene, I am sure that Arne can explain it better in German.
      Thanks very much for your comment; as you know, you are always most welcome here. I found this. It’s like they use for hotels.
      Fünf Sterne “als Bewertung
      http://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/travel-advice/10549280/Confusion-over-hotel-star-ratings.html

      Best wishes, Pete.

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      1. Oh, now I understand! It is very difficult for me to read and understand in a foreign language. But I like to read your posts and I hope my englisch will be better ( after a long time )! 🙂
        And I also give 5 stars to Janis – or to you!
        Thank you for clarification!
        Looking for Janis on youtube I am now at the Doors! Wow!
        What a great time it was!

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      2. No, “This is the End” – I don`t understand all of the lyrics – but the music and the voice get under my skin! I remember my big brother by music of the 60 th and then I always be a little sad because he left us 4 years ago in the age of 57! He loved music!

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  3. I’ve never listened to the entire “Pearl” album, but, of course, I fondly remember her music, especially “Mercedes Benz” and “Me and Bobby McGee.” It’s true that there will never be another Janis Joplin.

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    1. Perhaps it is her ‘Country’ side you prefer David, as both the tracks you mention have that feel to them of course. (At least to me…) As a songwriter yourself, I am assuming that the simple lyrics and repetition of ‘Trust Me’ has less appeal for you, but I am pleased that you like her singing.
      Very best wishes, Pete.

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      1. Repetition can be an effective device in the writing of lyrics: a mnemonic tool for the singer; a means of reinforcing a song’s theme or message; and a way to make a song “catchy.” I do use repetition fairly often in the lyrics I write for Chris Almoada’s songs. There are times when I have too much to say to permit myself the use of repetition, but when there are enough verses to support it, and especially when the tune suggests or permits it, then I will use repetition, primarily for the reasons cited above. However, I have also used repetition to suggest the rhythmic nature of Native American music. For example, all of the verses in “Rabbits May Be Dancing” follow the formula in the arbitrarily chosen example below:

        Storm birds rake the heavens, but Brandywine departs
        Choctaw tribes see omens, they prey on craven hearts
        Storm birds rake the heavens, bring floods to Arkansas
        Choctaw tribes see omens, cry “Oka Falamah!”

        With respect to “Trust Me,” I do like the simple message in the song, and have no problem with the repetition used to convey it, though the repetition might be slightly overdone.

        One issue I do have with the song is that the structure of the lyrics is a bit too loose and inconsistent—in terms of rhyme and beats per line—for my personal taste. In my lyrics, I rarely violate structure. “The Falcon,” however, does include a widow line in the bridge for heightened effect:

        Just like the birdman
        Just like the Birdman of Cahokia
        I gotta game plan
        A carnal game plan
        Just like the birdman

        (Note: “The Falcon” references Native American history, but is set in modern times, so while the bridge uses repetition extensively, the song’s verses do not.)

        In short, Pete, I do favor repetition in a song, but I’m a bit old-fashioned when it comes to structure. Fortunately, this works out just fine for the type of music that Chris Almoada sings.

        But getting back to Janis Joplin, I hadn’t thought of “Mercedes Benz” and “Me and Bobby McGee” as having a “country” feel to them. I think I’m drawn to them primarily because of their melody. Also, with respect to “Me and Bobby McGee,” there are some pleasing “smooth spots” in Joplin’s singing of the song that make the “raspy parts” more distinctive, and therefore more effective. Of course, it is, at least in part, Joplin’s distinctive rasp that has made her songs so memorable.

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        1. Have another listen to those two tracks. I hope that you might hear a Country connection, once you are thinking about it. Thanks for the explanation, and the lyric samples. I really enjoyed reading about your processes, and I was at least half-right!
          very best wishes, Pete.

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