I have loved Janis Ian's music since the early 70's and was hopeful about this bio. Unfortunately, it was almost entirely composed of how the world was hard on her, and how wonderful and brilliant she was in the midst of it all.
I have lived a somewhat tough life too, but learned a long time ago that very little happens to us that was not, in at least some level, a result of our own choices and actions. Janis may have had some hard knocks, but never takes any responsibility for her own choices or actions. That leaves me wondering how much else was exaggerated or more the result of her own than she would have us believe.
I still love her music, but am now a lot more jaded about the life story behind it...
Kea Giles (Asmus)
Janis Ian narrates her own book so well that I "couldn't put it down." Well done. It's a gripping biography, interesting & insightful. And Ian does a good job of sharing trauma without being maudlin. I did find the book somewhat stressful though *spoiler alert* - one story after another of pain and trauma and let-downs almost made me want to stop listening. But, as they say, it all turned out OK in the end -- though it's not the end -- she will have to put out a second book to cover the next 20 years or thereabouts.
Janis Ian is leading a remarkable life. She stormed into the public eye with the brilliant and socially controversial “Society’s Child” single in 1967 at the tender age of 13. A tremendously talented song writer and performer she continues to deliver wonderful music to this day. But what a life, it took a while to build on her meteoric start but she did. She leaves little untold from tilted sexuality to enduring a rocky heterosexual marriage to becoming secure in herself as a gay woman. She enjoyed major financial success then near ruin at the hands of a crooked manager and cruel IRS. Janis was an early embracer of the digital/internet world and the artistic freedom it offered. And all along the way are many, many lyrical, lovely songs. I really enjoyed this book and Janis tells her own story so very well. One thing that does not come through in the book though is what a great performer she is, and how witty and fun she is as a performer.
This is a full-on audio book experience. The fact that Audible chose to produce it was an incredible choice on their part. With Janice Ian singing and playing her own songs, even going so far as to reenact the process of writing a song... words just cannot express how amazing this book is.
There were so many! I couldn't pick just one!
The music, the singing, the emotions as she recounts the joys and sorrows in her own life... this book is incredible
Yes! I squirreled away time as often as possible to finish this book.
Better reviewers than I have put into words the incredible experience of listening to this book - I will not overshadow them. This is the story of rags to riches to rags, of pain, of joy... download this book!
Yes, if only for the music.
This was a moving book, sometimes depressing but always hopeful. Her performance of her music at the beginning of every chapter provides a unique and moving framework for her life story. The frankness with which the story is told and the way she handles her abuse, her betrayals and her sexuality are revealing of the times and of her growth as a person. But always it is the music that drives her and heals her. Loved the book!
My interests run to psychology, popular science, history, world literature, and occasionally something fun like Jasper Fforde. It seems like the only free time I have for reading these days is when I'm in the car so I am extremely grateful for audio books. I started off reading just the contemporary stuff that I was determined not to clutter up my already stuffed bookcases with. And now audio is probably 90% of my "reading" matter.
The best thing about this memoir is that we get to hear it in Janis's own voice exactly as she intended it to be heard. She even occasionally punctuates it by singing snippets of her songs. There doesn't seem to be much that she's not willing to share with her readers/listeners. I give her credit for that, especially for someone with so many trust issues. There was probably more than I wanted or needed to know about her sex life. I was more interested in hearing about her songs and the album creation process. It turns out, that's actually a small part of a singer's life. It's mostly about the unending amount of time spent touring, and about her personal life. It was both interesting and disappointing to discover that her life has actually been rather ordinary, apart from being famous and having a couple fairly bizarre episodes. Occasionally, I wished there were more dates thrown in to keep the story anchored. Occasionally, I wish people had been better identified; I have trouble keeping track of people who are only explained once many pages earlier if at all. I could never tell if her accounts of events were meant to convey how she felt at the time, or if she still feels that way now. She recounts a number of mistakes that she made in her life and career, but the way she tells it leaves it unclear if she appreciates her share of the responsibility for them. Lest anyone think I am unsympathetic to her trials and tribulations, let me hasten to reassure them that I would not have bought this book if I hadn't been a fan of Janis's work. Whether anyone who is not a fan would appreciate this book is hard to say, but she writes well and reflects the times in which she lived in a way that helps remind all of us what it was like.
Having grown up in Janis' generation, being almost the same age, I was a huge fan. Her lyrics always resonated with me; but other than 17, I had forgotten about her music and about her as an artist. This book brought it all back to me vividly and, along with it, memories of myself at 17. Her narration was key to the enjoyment of the book. Beginning each chapter with a song was brilliant and sharing the story of her life was not only brave but made for an excellent read (listen). I always knew from her music that she was a complex individual but to hear first-hand how and what made her who she is helped to truly understand her music and life. This is an extremely a good book, even if you don't know Janis and he music, but being audible made it just that much better. After listening, I immediately went out and bought some of her music.
Yes. To refresh story and glean more understanding
Candid style. Human interest. Emotional connection. Understanding the life of an artist.
Herself. The songs at the start of each chapter. The feel
Revealing, charming, well-read
It is her story so hearing it in her voice means you move at her pace. If I read the written words I might put emphasis on parts that she did not and vice versa. It really was like sitting down and talking to an old friend.
Yes. Because it covered a time in history that I lived through and I enjoyed her relating to me over again.
Yes. To my children and younger friends who missed this troubled period in history and need to learn about the freedoms gained and the music culture that contributed to change. To my age cohort, I would also recommend as a mindful journey down memory lane.
In her verbal presentation a passion for independence and resilience.
I sided with her in her response to crowd reactions to her lyrics.
A good read (on Janice's part) accurately conveying the emotions and turmoil of a period of change that advanced the power of music as a social commentary, one that she contributed to significantly.