Janis: Her Life and Music by Holly George-Warren – a #BookReview

Warning: This book contains offensive language, sexual references and phrases, drug references and aberrant behavior.

Book Blurb:

Janis: Her Life and Music by Jolly George-WarrenLonglisted for the 2020 Andrew Carnegie Medals for Excellence

This blazingly intimate biography of Janis Joplin establishes the Queen of Rock & Roll as the rule-breaking musical trailblazer and complicated, gender-bending rebel she was.

Janis Joplin’s first transgressive act was to be a white girl who gained an early sense of the power of the blues, music you could only find on obscure records and in roadhouses along the Texas and Louisiana Gulf Coast. But even before that, she stood out in her conservative oil town. She was a tomboy who was also intellectually curious and artistic. By the time she reached high school, she had drawn the scorn of her peers for her embrace of the Beats and her racially progressive views. Her parents doted on her in many ways, but were ultimately put off by her repeated acts of defiance.

Janis Joplin has passed into legend as a brash, impassioned soul doomed by the pain that produced one of the most extraordinary voices in rock history. But in these pages, Holly George-Warren provides a revelatory and deeply satisfying portrait of a woman who wasn’t all about suffering. Janis was a perfectionist: a passionate, erudite musician who was born with talent but also worked exceptionally hard to develop it. She was a woman who pushed the boundaries of gender and sexuality long before it was socially acceptable. She was a sensitive seeker who wanted to marry and settle down—but couldn’t, or wouldn’t. She was a Texan who yearned to flee Texas but could never quite get away—even after becoming a countercultural icon in San Francisco.

Written by one of the most highly regarded chroniclers of American music history, and based on unprecedented access to Janis Joplin’s family, friends, band mates, archives, and long-lost interviews, Janis is a complex, rewarding portrait of a remarkable artist finally getting her due.

My Review:

Janis by Holly George-Warren

I wonder how many decades back you’d have to go to find someone who doesn’t recognize the music or the name of Janis Joplin.

The “beatnik from Port Arthur, Texas” set a new high bar for uninhibited powerful, emotional singing by a woman in the mid-to-late sixties. Unleashing raw talent on a still poodle-skirted US exploring rock and roll, Joplin went “Full Tilt Boogie” with a full repertoire of blues, folk, and R&B following her rocky start in San Francisco in the hippie neighborhood of Haight-Ashbury. Sex, drugs, and rock and roll. For all that wildly barely contained talent, Joplin was a fiercely conflicted young woman, dying at the age of twenty-seven of a heroin overdose; China white.

The author begins the biography with a quick history of Seth and Dorothy Joplin, the singer’s parents and the “triangle” in Texas she haunted as a rebellious girl, always seeking her mother’s approval and her father’s love. School was not kind to Janis, deeply wounding her and sealing that mutinous daughter apart seeking her own persona. She was always different, more one of the boys than friends with her peers. Easy for her to discover an escape into music…and booze…and drugs…and sex.

It was a long, hard climb from the hard-scrabble life in San Francisco to fame around the world, with countless musicians and bands, unsustainable love, the search for success and fame. The author did an amazing job with researching, interviewing and tracing letters home that provide the rocky road on which Janis traveled. The extreme highs and lows. George-Warren relates the anguish with which she desperately clung to threads of approval and drowned disappointment.

It was after the Monterey Pop Festival in June 1967, that she could become a national star. During the short period of her major celebrity, Janis managed to turn out myriad hits and set iconic records. Among her best known, “Cry Baby,” “Summertime (a personal favorite),” “Ball and Chain,” “Piece of My Heart,” and “Me and Bobby McGee.”

She was indeed rude, crude, and (for the most part) socially unacceptable, but man could she set an audience on fire with that voice, jumping to their feet and stomping to the music with as much wild abandon as the person on stage. No silver linings here–we all know the story and it doesn’t end well. Janis herself philosophized her life in bits noted at chapter beginnings, many of which I found profound:

“Don’t compromise yourself. It’s all You’ve got.”
“I would never be young again. I’d have to cry all over.”
“You shouldn’t have to be young until you’re old enough to cope with it.”
“What if they find out I’m only Janis?”
“Onstage I make love to twenty-five thousand people, then I go home alone.”

Janis’s last album, “Pearl” was released three months after her passing in January 1971.

If you’ve ever heard that plaintive wail and wondered about the woman behind the voice, you must read this biography. No gloss-over here, just a well laid out chronology of the tragic path another of our singing icons took and the legacy left for aging hippies and the younger generations hooked by those bluesy ballads.

I received this digital download from the publisher (thank you!) and NetGalley and totally appreciated the opportunity to read and review. Recommended to anyone who enjoys well-researched celebrity biographies and well-written histories–get to know Janis–the person and the singer. That was, at times, two different people.

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Book Details:

Genre: Biographies of Composers & Musicians, Biographies of Actors & Entertainers, R&B Artist Biographies
Publisher: Simon and Schuster

  • ISBN-10:1476793107
  • ISBN-13:978-1476793108
  • ASIN: B07P5GD3SZ

Print Length: 337 pages
Publication Date: To be released October 22, 2019
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: Janis

Rosepoint Publishing:  Four point Five of Five Stars 4.5-stars

Holly George-Warren - authorThe Author: Holly George-Warren is an award-winning writer, editor, producer, and music consultant. She has contributed to more than two dozen books about rock and roll, including The New Rolling Stone Encyclopedia of Rock & Roll, The Rolling Stone Book of Women in Rock, and The Rolling Stone Illustrated History of Rock & Roll. She’s also written for the New York Times, the Village Voice, the Journal of Country Music, and Rolling Stone. Ms. George-Warren lives in upstate New York with her family.

©2019 V Williams V Williams

Lessons from Lucy: The Simple Joys of an Old, Happy Dog by Dave Barry – a #BookReview

Lessons from Lucy by Dave Barry

Five Stars  Five stars

Title: Lessons from Lucy: The Simple Joys of an Old, Happy Dog by Dave Barry

Genre: #1 United States Literary Criticism, #2 in Cat, Dog, and Animal Humor

Publisher: Simon and Schuster

  • ASIN: B07CL5PVDB
  •  ISBN-10: 1501161156
  • ISBN-13: 978-1501161155

      Print Length: 241 pages

Publication Date: Happy Release Date! April 2, 2019

Source: Publisher and NetGalley

Title Link: Lessons from Lucy

Book Blurb:

Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist and bestselling author of Dave Barry Turns 40 now shows how to age gracefully, taking cues from his beloved and highly intelligent dog, Lucy.

Faced with the obstacles and challenges of life after middle age, Dave Barry turns to his best dog, Lucy, to learn how to live his best life. From “Make New Friends” (an unfortunate fail when he can’t overcome his dislike for mankind) to “Don’t Stop Having Fun” (validating his longtime membership in a marching unit that performs in parades—and even Obama’s inauguration), Dave navigates his later years with good humor and grace. Lucy teaches Dave how to live in the present, how to let go of daily grievances, and how to feel good in your own skin. The lessons are drawn from Dave’s routine humiliations and stream-of-consciousness accounts of the absurdities of daily life, which will leave you heaving with laughter and recognition.

Laugh-out-loud hilarious, whether he’s trying to “Pay Attention to the People You Love” (even when your brain is not listening) or deciding to “Let Go of Your Anger,” Dave Barry’s Lessons From Lucy is a witty and wise guide to joyous living.

#1 New Release in Mid-Life Management

My Review:

Lessons from Lucy by Dave BarrySoon as I saw a book offered in NetGalley from Dave Barry, I jumped on the request. And a book about his dog, Lucy? YES, please! I have long been a fan of this author’s columns and would catch it in whatever vehicle I had that ran it. Paper? Sure before they gave way the same as eight-tracks. His columns never failed to provide a knowing nod, a chuckle, or laugh out loud moments. And while I don’t agree with all of Mr. Barry’s philosophy, I certainly agree that the man can find humor in just about anything and this book highlights that ability.

While the narrative doesn’t open new doors in wisdom, create new cosmic thought on life with dogs (or life itself), it is certainly written in an entertaining and satisfying manner. The author points out seven major lessons bestowed on Dave and his family by Lucy, their ten-year-old mixed-breed rescue. Dave’s keen wit and inspired observations of human behavior, metaphors for dog behavior, generally hit just where you’ve been. He sums up each lesson:

Lesson 1: Make New Friends, (And Keep The Ones You Have) Just don’t try to find them in a bar amazing them with your ability to smell asparagus metabolite.

Lesson 2: Have Some Fun Getting old sucks. (Or is that AARP?) Join something like the (World Famous) Lawn Rangers (yes, they use a broom and a lawn mower and perform in parades). Or as Barry did, join the Rock Bottom Remainders termed by Roy Blount as “Hard Listening,” composed of famous authors such as Stephen King and Amy Tan (but I doubt you’d recognize her), among others.

Rock Bottom Remainders on The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson

Lesson 3: Pay Attention to the People You Love (Not Later, Right Now) Please, don’t ask him about “diversity training” as opposed to “mindfulness training.”

Lesson 4: Let Go Of Your Anger, Unless It’s About Something Really Important, Which It Almost Never Is. Among his list of top five things he is exceptionally good at, besides sarcasm and ridicule (that’s just too easy cause you already knew that!), is his knack for developing an instantaneous hatred for people he doesn’t know. (That would definitely include the cable TV company, “Bomcast”)

Lesson 5: Try Not To Judge People By Their Looks, And Don’t Obsess Over Your Own. (…a book by its cover.)

Lesson 6: Don’t Let Your Happiness Depend On Things; They Don’t Make You Truly Happy, And You’ll Never Have Enough Anyway. Learn the definition of GAS – “Gear Acquisition Syndrome” and the necessity of storing lentils.

Lesson 7: Don’t Lie Unless You Have A Really Good Reason, Which You Probably Don’t. Two reasons not to lie: (1) It’s wrong, and (2) It’s stupid. Be like Lucy, “if you mess up, fess up.” A dog can look amazingly guilty, whether or not they are, but they usually know when they are.

This is a pseudo-self-help book from a skeptical self-help book hypocrite. He doesn’t ascribe to them. Even he can’t believe he wrote it. Normally, he is a snarky, cynical Pulitzer prize-winning columnist and bestselling author. It was intended to be a book about dogs. But there were so many parallels he could draw from his reflections.

It’s honest, sincere, and authentic. Also humorous, appealing, and a feel-good novel about dogs. As the author says, every dog he has ever owned has been THE BEST DOG EVER. It is a great read that I wholeheartedly recommend. I received the ebook download from the publisher and NetGalley. I so appreciated the opportunity to read and review. Thank you!

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Dave Barry - authorThe Author: The New York Times has pronounced Dave Barry “the funniest man in America.” But of course that could have been on a slow news day when there wasn’t much else fit to print. True, his bestselling collections of columns are legendary, but it is his wholly original books that reveal him as an American icon. Dave Barry Slept Here was his version of American history. Dave Barry Does Japan was a contribution to international peace and understanding from which Japan has not yet fully recovered. Dave Barry’s Complete Guide to Guys is among the best-read volumes in rehab centers and prisons. Raised in a suburb of New York, educated in a suburb of Philadelphia, he lives now in a suburb of Miami. He is not, as he often puts it so poetically, making this up. Find Dave Barry at http://www.davebarry.com/

©2019 V Williams Blog author