1967 Janis Ian – Society’s Child (Baby I’ve Been Thinking)
Janis Eddy Fink was born in 1951 and insisted on taking piano lessons when she was only two years old, perhaps because her father was a music teacher. Soon after, she also became proficient with other instruments, including the organ, harmonica, French horn, and guitar. The publication Broadside published a folk song she wrote in 1963, and the next year she borrowed her brother’s middle name and had her name legally changed to Janis Ian.
Janis wrote and recorded her first single in 1965. Songwriter George “Shadow” Morton wrote several successful songs for the Shangri-Las and Atlantic Records brought him in to produce her first single. When the label heard the results of the session, they returned to master tapes to Janis and told her they were not interested in releasing the song.
Verve Records believed in the single, and they released it three times beginning in 1966. The record dealt with a young woman struggling with an interracial relationship in the mid-sixties. That was a challenge for a lot of radio stations at the time, especially in the South. The first two times they released the record, nothing came of their efforts. Leonard Bernstein hosted a CBS TV special titled Inside Pop: The Rock Revolution in 1967 and featured the song on the broadcast. As a result of the national exposure from the show, Society’s Child (Baby I’ve Been Thinking) finally began to get airplay, and sales soon followed. The single sold more than a half-million copies and peaked at #14 on the Hot 100 later that year. The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame added the song to their list of 500 influential songs that shaped rock and roll in 2001.
The Smothers Brothers invited Janis to perform the song on the Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour in November. Because he saw an exhausted Janis resting backstage in a situation that implied she might be gay, Bill Cosby attempted to blacklist Janis on television by spreading rumors that she was an undesirable guest whose sexual orientation meant that she was not a family friendly guest.
Janis continued writing and recording music and released her most successful single in 1975. At Seventeen peaked at #3 on the Hot 100 and topped the Adult Contemporary chart in 1975. The record also earned the Grammy Award for Best Pop Vocal Performance – Female in 1976.
Janis recorded over twenty albums and at least two dozen singles. She still makes public performances and sells some CDs exclusively at her shows.
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