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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

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  •  
    realdog North Carolina 06-18-13
    realdog North Carolina 06-18-13 Member Since 2014

    realdog

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    "The best autobiography I've ever encountered"
    Where does Society's Child rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    This book, and the incredible delivery, is so full of insights. I've never been so profoundly affected by a book before.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    No, I wanted to drag it out and savor it. I only listen to audio books when I'm in the car or on the exercise bike.


    Any additional comments?

    This book felt so incredibly personal, read and sang by the author. Being a song writer, I think, gives here an innate sense of timing. She's an excellent writer and reader. I loved it when she said she suddenly realized that "words have color and words have feeling." Her words do.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sharon 05-16-13
    Sharon 05-16-13 Member Since 2011
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    "Wow!!!!!"
    Would you listen to Society's Child again? Why?

    I'm sure that I will read this over many times over the years. The story has tremendous impact and is a psychological roller coaster.


    What did you like best about this story?

    She tells it like it is, the good, the bad and the ugly. She also includes insight as to how she developed her songs. She also sings verses of some of her hits. You get it all !!!


    Which character – as performed by Janis Ian – was your favorite?

    She has great control of her voice and is one of the best narrators I've listened to and I listen a lot.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    Absolutely! She was inspirational and kudos to her for writing this book.


    Any additional comments?

    I hope she chooses to narrate additional books in the future

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    bonnie 05-15-13
    bonnie 05-15-13
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    "Janis Ian was a triumph!"

    (Because of my age) I had never even heard of Janis Ian. I dont even remember what made me get this book, but I am glad I did.

    Her story was interesting and funny and triumphant and heartbreaking. Janis narrarated it herself, and even sang some of her songs. It made the book very heartfelt- you can even heaer her smile when she reads the happy parts.

    She was a true pioneer during the days when people were not encouraged to be different or be themselves. She overcame so much during a time when it seems people were discriminated against for EVERYTHING! Race, age, sexual orientation, looks, opinions, and all the rest. She never gave in or conformed in order to fit in. She is a role model for us all.

    This book made me realize that we have come so far in the battle for equality, and it is a credit to the brave souls like Janis Ian.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Matoaka Harpers Ferry, WV USA 04-11-13
    Matoaka Harpers Ferry, WV USA 04-11-13 Member Since 2013
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    "She won me over!"

    I started listening to this book based on the great reviews. At first, I was somewhat disappointed. The writing seemed a bit cliched, and Janis Ian's voice was a bit cloying. But I got curious to find out more about how her career developed, so I kept listening. By the time I finished Part 1, I was completely hooked and rooting her on. I always liked her music, but never knew anything about what happened to her after her initial early success. What a phenomenal life! Or, to be more accurate, lives (plural). The way she kept coming back from hardship, never letting go of her dreams or losing her sense of irony and humor, always believing in her talent, and even forgiving those who tried to do her in offers lessons for everyone. By the end of the book, I felt that I knew her and wished that I really did. I also went back and listened to her music again with new appreciation.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    A. L. Katz New York, NY USA 04-03-13
    A. L. Katz New York, NY USA 04-03-13 Member Since 2008

    ALK

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    "Tough life, but a pleasurable listen"
    What did you love best about Society's Child?

    It felt like being in a one-on-one conversation with Janis -- even if she couldn't hear my sympathetic "oh, dear, that was terrible" or "good for you" responses.


    What about Janis Ian’s performance did you like?

    The brief musical snippets served as a reminder of her songwriting talent and enhanced the overall book.


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

    Uneasy lies the teenage head that wears a crown of musical success.


    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Hillary MORRIS, CT, United States 10-23-12
    Hillary MORRIS, CT, United States 10-23-12 Member Since 2015

    avoiding road rage one book at a time...

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    "The Tale of the Phenomenal Ingenue"

    I absolutely loved everything about this book, including Janis's awesome and honest narration. She uses her stunning voice to sing the listener in to each new life chapter. Her words paint pictures, her voice sounds heavenly. GREAT story of a hard-working optimist.

    7 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    John M New Zealand 11-13-13
    John M New Zealand 11-13-13 Member Since 2012
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    "What a life! A full range of ups and downs"

    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.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Barry Petaluma, CA, United States 09-11-13
    Barry Petaluma, CA, United States 09-11-13 Member Since 2008

    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.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "I have to give her points for candor"

    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.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Reader 07-20-13
    Reader 07-20-13

    reader

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    "Not my generation, but MY kind of book!"

    I adored every second of this book. I didn't know who Janis Ian was when I started it. Audible recommended it to me based on my past purchases. I'm so glad I took Audible's advice! I believe that this book won a Grammy, and I can see (and hear) why. The narration is great, the story is heart wrenching and told beautifully, and it's interesting to learn about a slice of life and a time in this country that you might not have known about before. A MUST listen!

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Katie 04-25-13
    Katie 04-25-13 Member Since 2015
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    "Amazing & Inspirational"

    Janet Ian is a truly amazing person. Her talent as a signer, guitarist and song writer is obvious by her music but she's also a great writer. The road to success and back again is inspirational, even to those of us who lack musical talent. I especially liked how she blended her songs into the book, something I've found lacking in other biographies about musicians. She definitely deserved the Grammy for this performance!

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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