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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)

More from the same

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.2 (434 )
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4.5 (401 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Carolyn Asheville, NC, United States 08-18-13
    Carolyn Asheville, NC, United States 08-18-13 Member Since 2011
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    "Entertaining autobiography especially for Boomers"

    Autobiographies are a favorite of mine particularly when they are read by the author. Her performance and singing added poignant depth. Music, fame, searching for love and overcoming repeated betrayals and setbacks is heartbreaking. It is the story of one woman and its the story of all women who struggled through feminist equality from the 50s through the 70s: a time Boomers will recall and appreciate the change we see today thanks to activists who weren't and aren't satisfied with conserving the status quo. Janis was one of those change agents.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Steve Nyack, NY, United States 08-02-13
    Steve Nyack, NY, United States 08-02-13 Member Since 2010
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    Story
    "SIng to me Janis"
    If you could sum up Society's Child in three words, what would they be?

    Souful, historical, redemption


    What did you like best about this story?

    That Janis read it herself and introduced most of the chapters in song


    Which scene was your favorite?

    The scene where the bigots left the auditorium


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

    Not really, but Janis is now as much a hero for me as the "other" Janis is the voice of "g-d".


    Any additional comments?

    Heart wrenching at times and it emerges as a story that reflects the tremendous social upheaval in our times- so glad Ian has found a joyful life after so much wonderful work.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Carter Merkle Norman, OK United States 07-04-13
    Carter Merkle Norman, OK United States 07-04-13 Member Since 2001
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Refreshing candor enriches this story."
    If you could sum up Society's Child in three words, what would they be?

    Honest, candid, personal


    What about Janis Ian’s performance did you like?

    Nobody else could perform this book as well as the author, with guitar in hand.


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

    This book had moments when it drew out laughter and tears.


    Any additional comments?

    Janis Ian's tale is told in a well-organized manner that grips the reader and sheds light on each of our lives.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ronda Batesville, IN, United States 10-10-13
    Ronda Batesville, IN, United States 10-10-13
    HELPFUL VOTES
    2
    ratings
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    11
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    "Struggled to get through it"
    Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

    No


    Any additional comments?

    As accomplished as Janice is, I just didnt feel the story was that interesting. I dont want that to take away from any of her struggles or accomplishments. I didnt feel she was very effective as a the narrator either.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jennifer Portland, OR, United States 09-18-13
    Jennifer Portland, OR, United States 09-18-13 Member Since 2013
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Does the victim part ever end?"
    Would you try another book from Janis Ian and/or Janis Ian?

    No


    Any additional comments?

    Does the victim part ever end? In a word, No. At least, as far as I could make myself read, which was well over halfway. I kept thinking, "She's going to change, she's going to get it and make something better of her life..." Unfortunately, most of the book is the same victim story told and retold and retold again. I just couldn't bear to read another variation and finally gave up. I was hoping for a great story - and the cultural references in the art and music world were fun to reflect upon, but they couldn't make up for the same story told by the same voice over and over again. Sorry, Janis.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Susan Richmond, TX, United States 08-14-13
    Susan Richmond, TX, United States 08-14-13 Member Since 2011

    This is my granddaughter's picture! She is my love.

    HELPFUL VOTES
    26
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    "Boring Self-Serving Story During an Important Time"

    I don't know if there are many people that will agree with me, but this story is about a woman very proud of herself. That, by itself, might not be so bad, but this had all the "I was", "I did", and "I knew and met" you might expect from someone raised by a very liberal family during a time of national struggle for equality. The story includes drugs, sex, and many disturbing scenes that are just glossed over by this writer.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Tammy Borger, TX, United States 05-02-13
    Tammy Borger, TX, United States 05-02-13 Member Since 2011
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    "Not as good as I expected"
    This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

    I did not realize how dysfuntional Janis Ian was\is. It left me with less admiration for her. I thought her sexual life was too overdone, and I am no prude. It makes one wonder who someone with such intelligence and talent could make such bad choices over and over again! Just a disapointing story. I found it hard to have smypathy for her when it seemed obvious she made her choices with eyes wide open.
    Too much dysfunctional garbage.


    If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from Society's Child?

    The constant minage a trios! Way way too much! Just more than I needed to know!


    Any additional comments?

    Sadly, I really would not recommend this book

    1 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jo Newberg, OR, United States 04-24-13
    Jo Newberg, OR, United States 04-24-13 Member Since 2005

    Eclectic tastes in music and books, drawn to cheerful, beautiful, and gentle things

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Is anyone really this naive?"

    There are times I wondered if Ms. Ian, though a gifted singer, songwriter and narrator, is actually this naive, or is there something more disturbing going on? She spends years in an abusive relationship with a much older man. Later on, she gets ripped off over and over again because she trusts people she shouldn't from agents/colleagues to friends/lovers. Eventually, most people learn to get second opinions, to put things in writing, and to hide their cash in a safe place. It's a dysfunction train from beginning to end, and I found it sad.

    1 of 5 people found this review helpful
  • Showing: 51-58 of 58 results PREVIOUS156NEXT
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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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