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.
"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)
Mystery reader (especially series) and Austen lover
Celebrity autobiographies always seem better to me if they are narrated by the celebrity. In Society's Child, Janis Ian reads her own story. While she is not a practiced or dramatic narrator, hearing the book in her own voice increases the listener's personal experience of the events Ian has gone through. As an added bonus, each time the text refers to or discusses a particular song of hers (including at the beginning of each chapter) Ms Ian plays the guitar and sings at least a few bars of the song.
She has led an interesting, and not always very happy, life. Born in 1951 during the McCarthy Commie-hunting days, she had to move with her family from place to place in the New York/New Jersey area because her parents' left-leaning politics made them targets of the FBI and similar organizations, and her father had to keep changing teaching jobs. When she was 13, she wrote "Society's Child," and was touring with the song by the time she was 15. At many of those performances she was baited and threatened by people in the audience, accused of being a "n____-lover". Hard to take when you're 15.
Janis Ian went through a number of travails, many of which seem to have been the result of youth and a too-trusting nature. Several times in her adult life, she ended up close to penniless, and had to scramble to make a living. At the age of 27 she married a Portuguese man who turned out to be both emotionally and physically abusive. Getting out of that marriage while dealing with the IRS over taxes that were never paid by her tax accountant was slow and grueling. Eventually she found the woman who has been her partner for many years, and life has become brighter and fulfilling.
Of course not all of the book is dark. There are many interesting stories, including her meetings and friendships with Janis Joplin, Jimmy Hendrix, and the legendary acting coach Stella Adler; and the background and writing of "At Seventeen." And she discusses the happy times in her life.
A number of times in this book, Ian says that she often did not ask for help or even discuss many of her problems because those matters were too personal and she was very uncomfortable discussing personal things. After a number of years in therapy, she was able in her autobiography to reveal and discuss highly personal matters, and she was able to read them in this recording. In the end, what you get from this book is the story of a strong, brave woman who has been through a lot and has managed to reach a balance in her life. Well worth a listen.
I first became a Janis Ian fan as a teenager in the last 70s and have always loved her music. I was raised by a gay mother in a time when it was not acceptable at all to be gay.
As a 51 year old adult, I could identify so vividly with her struggles and life challenges. I had no idea how intelligent she is, how vast her life experience and what a talented writer she is.
I hated having to pause the story.
Janis Ian does a beautiful job of narrating her life story - and what a story it is! She has been through numerous ups and downs, but she never indulges in self-pity or bitterness as she recalls her past.
Janis Ian has lived a life filled with every sorrow and joy you can imagine (except one). As one of the deepest songwriters of our generation, it is no surprise that she can write and narrate her own story with warmth and honesty. I met her at the Tucson Festival of Books in 2010. Now, knowing more, I am so happy she is happy.
Janis Ian Chronicles her rise to fame and the depths of her struggles with the trials ofJob. Heart rending and highly recommended.
Janis Ian first hit my radar in the 70s, when her song "At Seventeen" hit the airwaves. I was a young teen, awkward and (in my view) unattractive. I definitely lacked social grace and spent many evenings at home; alone with my books, records, and imagination.
I downloaded Society's Child based solely on my strong connection to "At Seventeen." Janis' story is heartbreaking in so many ways, yet the one overall message I took from this book is HOPE.
Thank you for sharing so much of yourself with us, Janis. Please don't ever stop writing and performing.
With much respect.
I read mostly fiction, almost all genres! I have read thousands of books and cannot get enough! Audible is addictive, so beware! 😈
I hesitated a few minutes on this purchase because of the genre I think! I bought it after googling some music. I became enthralled rather quickly and I must say it ended too soon! Highly recommend this book! Ms Ian is a living legend and a treasure!
Inside this book Janice Ian reads, sings, plays and entertains us with a portion of her life story. I can only imagine the emotional ride it must have been for her as she caries us through her journey. It is almost painful at times witnessing her grow up, yet she emerges with such grace that one cannot help but fall in love!
Thank you, Audible and Ms. Ian for making this title available. What a find!
"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.
"The Story That Becomes Your Own"
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.
"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.
"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.
"Boy but it's tough to tell it like it is ain't it"
This is a good story or it would be if Janis didn't insist on giving us a guitar solo at the beginning of every single chapter of the book. It's embarrassing just listening to it. Her voice isn't what it used to be and she really should just read the story and not try to sing. That apart the story is quite good. Imagine if you were fifteen and being called a 'nigger lover' just because you had an opinion that differed from that of others and then imagine that happening onstage. Not funny and she didn't find it amusing either. Janis ian has had s tough old life but she's a good reader and even does the odd short story from time to time. I'd recommend reading it but beware of the guitar solos they really are cringe material.
loved it great story fascinated by all the ups and downs of her life til now
Searingly honest, beautiful, at times heartbreaking account of a true star. What incredible songs Janis has written, so pleased to have discovered this gem. Thank you Janis
"Who knew what an amazing life Janis has had?"
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.
I can't think of another autobiography that compares to this.
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.
"At seventeen...I got the blues"
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.
"Remarkable story and lady."
It's a first rate autobiography. Kept me engrossed.
It's in a class of its own because I've come across no one like Janis Ian. She's a one off!
There are many interesting moments. Her early involvement with Internet auctions to raise funds for a scholarship foundation were fascinating.
There were many. Abuse by her dentist and the death of her mother were particularly emotive.
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.
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