“If it’s a dream, I don’t want nobody to wake me.”
42 years ago today, Janis Joplin was found dead in a Los Angeles hotel room. On that October 4th, the world lost a soulful, powerful vocalist who’s influence would be felt for deacdes to come. Janis was one of many artists whose flame was put out by drugs and alcohol. Her story has sadly become a rock and roll cliche and gets repeated several times every year. Yet it’s her take no prisoners music and badass vocal stylings that survive today. And “Try Just a Little Bit Harder” is one song which truly captures this legacy.
The track appeared on her 1969 record I Got Dem Ol’ Kozmic Blues Again Mama! While not lyrically, complex, “Try Just a Little Bit Harder” embodies the kind of attitude and sass that the world found irresistible in Joplin. While reading about Janis I found this quote by another idol, Stevie Nicks, that sums up Janis’ power perfectly:
“Janis put herself out there completely, and her voice was not only strong and soulful, it was painfully and beautifully real. She sang in the great tradition of the rhythm & blues singers that were her heroes, but she brought her own dangerous, sexy rock & roll edge to every single song. She really gave you a piece of her heart. And that inspired me to find my own voice and my own style.”
So on this chilly Thursday I’m going to rally and turn “Try Just a Little Bit Harder” into my funky theme song. Maybe I’ll blast other Janis tunes during my day to honor her. Also as I work on some writing projects, I’m going to strive for that “beautifully real” quality that Stevie pinpoints in Janis. Finally, I’ll use the title of the song as kind of a mantra. Spiritually, creatively and emotionally I can try just a little bit harder today. And it’ll feel good. Or as the lady herself would say, “You know you got it if it makes you feel good!”