Janis Joplin – ‘Black Mountain Blues’ live

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Janis Joplin – ‘Black Mountain Blues’ live | Society Of Rock Videos

A voice so big, even Janis had to grow into it!

It’s hard to believe that Janis Joplin had to work to achieve that signature throaty, bluesy voice we all know and love and that she’s come to be known for.

Early in her singing career, Janis was just as raw and inexperienced as the rest of us. In her rendition of Bessie Smith’s ‘Black Mountain Blues’, her voice is powerful, but nasal – like she isn’t quite as confident in her voice as she would later become.

Amazing – a voice so big that even Janis had to grow into it!

Before she grew into her sound, she wanted to be Bessie:

Janis identified with Bessie to the point of feeling that she was Smith reincarnated, and learned to sing the blues by listening to Bessie for hours and imitating her.

Janis later explained her fascination with Bessie Smith, saying:

“She showed me the air and taught me how to fill it,” said Janis. “She’s the reason I started singing, really.”

Not only did Janis fill the air, she became a force of nature and was the biggest presence in any room. Sounds like she took Bessie’s influence and improved it!

While we love her voice in her later years, there’s something really cool about hearing her as just a young kid, belting out ‘Black Mountain Blues with no real goal in mind but to fill the air.

+ Black Mountain Blues lyrics +

Out in Black Mountain a child will smack your face
I’m saying out on Black Mountain a child will smack your face
The babies cryin’ for liquor, and all the birds sing bass

Well, those people in Black Mountain are mean as they can be
And those people in Black Mountain are mean as they can be
Now they uses gun powder just to sweeten up their tea

Well, out in Black Mountain you can’t keep a good man in jail
Yeah, out in Black Mountain you can’t keep a good man in jail
‘Cause if the jury convicts him, the judge will pay his bail

I had a man in Black Mountain, the sweetest man in town
I had a man in Black Mountain, the sweetest man in the town
But then he met a city gal, that’s when he throwed me down

Lord, I’m bound for Black Mountain, me and my razor and my gun
I’m going back to Black Mountain, me and my razor and my gun
I’m gonna fire him if he stands still, I’ll just cut him if he runs

Lord, now you’ve heard my story, now you’ve heard my news
Lord, now you’ve heard my story, now you’ve heard my news
Now my man can clear off, I’ve got the Blackest Mountain blues

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