Tuesday, October 09, 2012

AccuRadio Song Of The Day-Janis Ian

Artist:Janis Ian
Song:Society's Child
Album:Playlist: The Very Best Of Janis Ian

Janis Ian seemingly emerged on the music scene as a teen and had a top 20 hit with Society's Child. As you will see, it was much more complicated than that. Janis quit the music business in 1970 but returned with an even bigger hit with At Seventeen in 1975. She was born Janis Eddy Fink Apr. 7, 1951 in New York City and grew up in East Orange, NJ. Her father was a music teacher and her parents operated a summer camp in upstate New York. Janis took piano lessons and admired folk singers like Joan Baez. She started writing songs at age 12 and some were published in the folk music magazine Broadside. One of those songs got the attention of producer George "Shadow" Morton. He was the man behind The Shangri-Las. He liked the song Baby I've Been Thinking but he changed the title to Society's Child. At age 14, Janis changed her name to Janis Ian. Ian is her brother's middle name. Janis says that as a Jewish girl in the mainly black neighbourhood of East Orange, interracial romance was a hot topic. At that time, it would have been a controversial subject for a pop song. Morton got Janis a deal with Atlantic Records but they rejected Society's Child  Years later, Atlantic president Jerry Wexler publicly apologized to Janis. So Morton approached the jazz label Verve Records and Society's Child was released on Verve Forecast. But many radio stations refused to play the song because of the subject matter. Famed composer Leonard Bernstein hosted a series of music specials on CBS. Janis was asked to appear on Inside Pop: The Rock Revolution. Teens loved the song and made it a hit but many radio stations still wouldn't play it. It reached #14 on the Billboard Hot 100 but it should have been a much bigger hit. Society's Child is in the Grammy Hall Of Fame. The harpsichord and organ on Society's Child was by Artie Butler who was an arranger for Brill Building songwriters Jeff Barry & Ellie Greenwich. Janis recorded four albums for Verve and retired from music in 1970. Fame was not kind to her. She recorded an album for Capitol in 1971 and then signed with Columbia in 1974. She hit the jackpot again when At Seventeen topped the Billboard Hot 100 in 1975. You can get both hits on this Sony budget comp. Janis has also recorded for Windham Hill but recently she has recorded on her own Rude Girl label with Cooking Vinyl distribution. She has also written her autobiography. Here's Janis Ian performing Society's Child on The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour 1967.

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