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Society's Child: My Autobiography | [Janis Ian]

Society's Child: My Autobiography

Janis Ian was catapulted into the spotlight in 1966 at the age of 15, when her soul-wrenching song "Society's Child" became a hit. But this was only the beginning of a long and illustrious career. In Society's Child, Janis Ian provides a relentlessly honest account of the successes and failures - and the hopes and dreams - of an extraordinary life.
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Publisher's Summary

Audie Award, Narration by the Author or Authors, 2013

Grammy Award Winner, Best Spoken Word Album, 2013

Booklist Top 10 Biography Audiobooks

Janis Ian was catapulted into the spotlight in 1966 at the age of 15, when her soul-wrenching song "Society's Child" became a hit. An intimate portrait of an interracial relationship, "Society's Child" climbed the charts despite the fact that many radio stations across the country refused to play it because of its controversial subject matter. But this was only the beginning of a long and illustrious career.

In this fascinating memoir of her more than 40 years in the music business, Ian chronicles how she did drugs with Jimi Hendrix, went shopping for Grammy clothes with Janis Joplin, and sang with Mel Tormé, all the while never ceasing to create unforgettable music.

In 1975, Ian's legendary "At Seventeen" earned two Grammy awards and five nominations. Her next two albums brought her worldwide platinum hits. But after seven albums in as many years, she made a conscious decision to walk away from the often grueling music business. During this period, she struggled through a difficult marriage, which ended with her then husband's attempt to destroy her, and a sudden illness that very nearly cost her her life. The hiatus from music lasted for close to a decade until, in 1993, Ian returned with the release of the Grammy-nominated Breaking Silence. Now, as she moves gracefully into her fifth decade as a recording artist and writer, Ian continues to draw large audiences around the globe.

In Society's Child, Janis Ian provides a relentlessly honest account of the successes and failures - and the hopes and dreams - of an extraordinary life.

©2008 Janis Ian (P)2012 Audible, Inc.

What the Critics Say

"Each chapter in this mesmerizing memoir begins with an evocative lyric read and sung by Ian, who transports listeners back in time with both words and music." (Booklist)

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What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

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  •  
    Pamela United States 02-24-13
    Pamela United States 02-24-13 Member Since 2004

    Sure, I'd love to hear your story....

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "I know why this won the grammy"

    Like a lot of people, I was a bit surprised to learn this had beaten out some really famous and important works - - but after an hour, I know why. This story is like having the world's best coffee and donuts with your absolute best friend who is finally letting you in on all the secrets of her life. She's an amazing writer - - no kidding, just listen to her music. But just like that music, this is deeply personal, stunningly honest, painful and uplifting. Hearing this one, with Janis singing pieces of the story, allows you to be not a just a witness to her life, but a participant. Love this one.

    20 of 20 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kathleen Fresno, CA, United States 12-12-12
    Kathleen Fresno, CA, United States 12-12-12 Member Since 2008

    kathque

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    "Wonderful - Highly Recommend"
    Would you consider the audio edition of Society's Child to be better than the print version?

    How can you possibly beat a well-read autobiography about a musician when that artist performs the songs as she tells the story. Well-read, naturally beautifully performed.

    Just lovely.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Society's Child?

    When she described how she came up with her hit "At Seventeen."


    16 of 16 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Curtis 01-03-13
    Curtis 01-03-13 Member Since 2009
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    "Fascinating story. Couldn't stop listening."

    I really didn't know much about Janis Ian or her music. I was familiar with a couple of her hits. I listened to this mainly because it got rave reviews from other listeners. This isn't the typical book I listen to on a regular basis. I am more the business book and self-help type but decided I wanted a break. Her story was extremely fascinating and provided a wonderful glimpse into what it is like to make it and not make it in the music world.

    She tells her story, and its a life with wild ups and downs, in such an open and honest way. She is a fantastic story teller/narrator, which makes sense as she is a singer songwriter. This has been one of my favorite audiobooks. Love the fact that in the audiobook you get to hear her music all along the way.

    11 of 11 people found this review helpful
  •  
    OKCycle Oklahoma City, OK United States 12-17-12
    OKCycle Oklahoma City, OK United States 12-17-12 Member Since 2002
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    "Oh my! What a book!"

    Listening to Janis Ian narrate her autobiography punctuated with her singing her songsfelt like sitting in her living room while she told the story. As she sang, I was transported back to my own youth. If you are a fan, this is a absolute must book to listen to. If you are not yet a fan, listen to this book and you'll become one.

    11 of 11 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sue Glendale, AZ, United States 01-08-13
    Sue Glendale, AZ, United States 01-08-13 Member Since 2007
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    "I've always loved Jan Ian's music"

    The minute I saw that Janis Ian had an autobiography out I bought it! Then I saw that she was also performing it, and that made me even more excited to start it. I've been a fan of hers for decades, even meeting her briefly after a concert at the Univ. of Arizona in 1977 or so. I've been learning a lot about her life before becoming famous with "Society's Child" and "At Seventeen", and she even sings snippets of her songs in this great audiobook.
    With the world of digital downloads, I've been able to buy some of her older releases and found out that she is coming to town in March!
    THIS is the way a great autobiography should be done--read and performed by the author.
    Thanks, Janis, and Audible!

    9 of 9 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Victoria Wright The Berkshires, MA 01-21-13
    Victoria Wright The Berkshires, MA 01-21-13 Member Since 2007

    BookmarkServices.net

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    "Janis is still fabulous."

    I loved her music as a teenager and love her music now. I was tickled to find this book here, and not even a bit disappointed. Loved every minute of it, and no one else could read it and do it justice. Brava!

    7 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    BobbiDeg Cohasset, MN United States 01-15-13
    BobbiDeg Cohasset, MN United States 01-15-13 Member Since 2006
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    "Great presentation!"
    If you could sum up Society's Child in three words, what would they be?

    I liked the personal touches in this autobiography, especially the guitar playing and the singing. It was very entertaining.


    7 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mia Oslo, Norway 03-26-13
    Mia Oslo, Norway 03-26-13 Member Since 2012

    I am a miracle worker. Doing what I can to choose love over fear.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "This is in it's own genre"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    Yes: For one credit you get these pearks:

    - A liberal history lesson
    - Raw gig experience deliverd without polished crap
    - Backstage inside
    - Gay and female rights
    - Drug stories
    And you get to hang with Janis Joplin! This is not a book: It is an experience. If you have not heard about Janis Ian you will enjoy it if you like the 60's and 70's music scene. Ian's sexual oriontation does not take up too much space. You get the story bout the man wo attacted her. She is not advating gay rights: To her we who are hetrosexuals are the same. She does an amazing job when it comes to seeing PEOPLE rather than labels. It is worthy every award. This book I mean experience is perfect for a weekend night when you sta home but rather wish you had the bucks for a gig and yes: You will come back to this. T is a feel-good book unlike any other. When you are done you might wan to hear the music. On her website free tracks awaits.


    What did you like best about this story?

    The fact that she is honest


    What does Janis Ian bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    Well. It is not possible to read a show.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    When she was being drugged by a stranger in N.Y.


    Any additional comments?

    This is not my favorite book it is my favorite audio experience. Hopefylly this will be included in "How should I use my first credit?" Section.

    6 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    moe CT 02-10-13
    moe CT 02-10-13 Member Since 2008

    moe

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    "The power of music"
    Where does Society's Child rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    This is one of the most engaging nonfiction books I've read. Janis tells the story of her life, her music and the music industry. Nicely written, beautifully read. One aspect that really set this one apart for me was the natural way that Janis sings and plays the guitar at the beginning of every chapter and throughout the book. It has the feel of sitting in your living room and having Janis tell you her life story. Amazing!

    I've been a fan of Janis Ian's music since 1967. However, I knew precious little about her personal life. Janis lays out key events in her life, good and bad, without whining about the bad or over indulging in her success. Hers is a life lived out loud without regrets. In the end, it is a story about her music (which clearly is in her DNA) the power of the human spirit and the power of music.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Society's Child?

    Book opens with Janis telling the story of performing Society's Child in front of an audience with the small number of racial bigots heckling the 15-year-old star.


    12 of 13 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kathleen Minneapolis, MN, USA 08-27-12
    Kathleen Minneapolis, MN, USA 08-27-12
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    "One of the best books of the year for me."

    Janis Ian’s narration is really a performance. She has a wonderful voice for narrating, and whenever she is talking about a particular song, she gives us samples of the song by singing it and accompanying herself with her guitar. It is really a performance. I loved this book and wondered what had happened to Janis Ian. She has had a fascinating life and she's very positive about her life. Awe-inspiring.

    14 of 16 people found this review helpful
  • Showing: 1-10 of 58 results PREVIOUS126NEXT
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  • Ernesta
    Lithuania
    12/1/13
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "The Story That Becomes Your Own"
    What does Janis Ian bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you had only read the book?

    It's an exhilarating, depressing, exciting, inspiring story of a woman gifted with a wonderful song-writing talent. Reading the book would have been a pleasure, of that I am sure. Now imagine for a second the woman herself telling her story to you. Over dinner, while commuting, in the park. Singing her best songs to you, playing her father's Martin guitar. That's Janis Ian reading her autobiography. If you want an audiobook that will get stuck in your heart for the rest of your life, this is it.


    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Kindle Customer
    Kildonan
    12/13/13
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "The life and times of some of my favourite songs"

    When I was 17 years old a girl friend gave me the album At Seventeen the song is a girls point of view of the world it changed my male perspective of the world and has been with me from LP to tape, CD and MP3 accompanying me through my life like so much music; but of the girl that wrote those songs I knew nothing, so when I heard that she had written her biography I decided I had to listen to it.
    Well it was great, sad, interesting, and entertaining. (I invited my wife to hear the story with me and she loved it though she is not as interested in her music as I am).
    One of the things I love is that she introduces some of the chapters by singing the song or song she was working on in that period. It is a very personal and candid story that meanders like all our lives through highs and lows and the particular idiosyncrasies of her times.
    I loved the young girl that sang to me. I respect the woman she became.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Margaret
    Ormesby St Margaret, United Kingdom
    4/17/13
    Overall
    "An astonishing insight into the music industry."

    Astonishing, amazing, I loved this book. I've been a fan of Janis Ian since first hearing 'At Seventeen' and listening to this book (narrated by Janis herself) reminded me how much I love her voice. Each chapter is preceded by a short burst of Janis singing - one advantage this book has over the written word. This audio book also won a Grammy award (beating Michelle Obama) - I didn't even know there was such a category. As soon as I finished it I went straight to i-tunes and listened to Night Rains - one of my favourite albums. There are some great videos of Janis on her website. I regret that I've never seen her live. Hopefully she will make it back to the UK before too long.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Chris
    YorkUnited Kingdom
    11/7/12
    Overall
    "What a life"

    Janis has quite an amazing story. I rarely read or listen to biography but I'm glad that I listened to this. As well as her life she spoke about much of her music with snippets from a fair selection of her songs. I have to give this 5 stars.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Lorraine
    4/26/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Who knew what an amazing life Janis has had?"
    What made the experience of listening to Society's Child the most enjoyable?

    The musical intros to each chapter and the fact that janis did her own narration. I didn't know of janis' career before "at 17" so her earlier work and in particular the controversy surrounding society's child was really interesting.


    What other book might you compare Society's Child to, and why?

    I can't think of another autobiography that compares to this.


    Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    I mostly found the book poignant. I laughed and cried a little but it was the story that kept me rapt. Her candidness about child sexual abuse was expressed matter of fact-ly without seeking pity or apportioning blame.

    I could not relate to her having relationships with men and I would have liked a greater analysis of her to journey to Pat.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Alison
    United Kingdom
    3/29/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "At seventeen...I got the blues"
    Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

    Poor old Janis, she has had a very interesting life, it certainly wasn't what I was expecting, more of a fascinating that uplifting story.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Bookie
    UK
    1/10/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Remarkable story and lady."
    Where does Society's Child rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    It's a first rate autobiography. Kept me engrossed.


    What other book might you compare Society's Child to, and why?

    It's in a class of its own because I've come across no one like Janis Ian. She's a one off!


    Which scene did you most enjoy?

    There are many interesting moments. Her early involvement with Internet auctions to raise funds for a scholarship foundation were fascinating.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    There were many. Abuse by her dentist and the death of her mother were particularly emotive.


    Any additional comments?


    Janis Ian has an astonishing story to tell and listening to her narrate the audio version of her book made it all the more extraordinary. She recounts the milestones in her eventful life with candour and often humour.

    I knew little of her personal story and this book was compelling. Her unconventional upbringing, astounding musical success as a 15 year old, the nature of and the way she dealt with various types of abuse, her personal relationships...the list goes on and this is before considering her creative gifts as a writer, singer and songwriter, her influence on and involvement with the music industry and the way she embraced early Internet opportunities.

    The book took me by surprise. It's a very well written ride through the numerous ups and downs of a colourful life. Unlike many half baked so called 'celebrity stories' this lady, now in her early 60's, actually has a meaningful story to tell. I enjoyed it.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Margaret
    United Kingdom
    6/7/13
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "the most amasing experiance"

    Wow to me Janice Ian was the singer of the hit song 17, in this book of her life she is so much more. What a life, I am very glad she told her story.

    Thank you Janice for sharing your life story.

    Take the chance and listen you will not want to stop this story is infectious you will not regret the time spent listening,

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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