Scars of Sweet Paradise: The Life and Times of Janis Joplin by Alice Echols
Published: February 15, 2000
Janis Joplin was the skyrocket chick of the sixties, the woman who broke into the boys' club of rock and out of the stifling good-girl femininity of postwar America. With her incredible wall-of-sound vocals, Joplin was the voice of a generation, and when she OD'd on heroin in October 1970, a generation's dreams crashed and burned with her. Alice Echols pushes past the legacy Joplin-the red-hot mama of her own invention-as well as the familiar portrait of the screwed-up star victimized by the era she symbolized, to examine the roots of Joplin's musicianship and explore a generation's experiment with high-risk living and the terrible price it exacted.
For those of you who don’t know me I’m a HUGE music fan. I think of myself as an old soul though. I love and adore music from the 60’s and 70’s. Awhile back I was obsessed with music bios; I read anything I could get my hands on. Like I said before I couldn’t get enough of anything from that time period so I went out and got a ton of stuff from the musicians at that time.
I’ve loved Janis Joplin instantly. I loved her attitude, her voice, her love of old soul and jazz plus she’s from Texas!! Yet as much as she was awesomely gifted too so many people, there was no denying she was a tortured soul. While there are a ton of books on Janis I’m glad I picked this one. I liked how this one was a balanced book. Some bios tend to be one-sided, they are mainly gossipy or they don’t really give you an insight on the person not just the musician. I like how I got both. They were a ton of things I didn’t know about her personal life and some things I thought were true were revealed to be false. I felt I got a sense of the stripped down Janis and not just a glamorized version of what people want her to be remembered by.
Although no one can honestly say why Janis felt the way she did we do get bits and pieces on why she felt so alone and her sense of not belonging and not feeling good enough.
I’ve read enough music bios to know that it’s not the fame that brings these artists down but the pain and rejection they suffered long before that caused them to have problems. Most of them think money, fame and drugs can make up for it but we all know it never does.
Alice Echols in my opinion has written the most balanced bio I’ve read out there. Not just on Janis but generally speaking. It’s straight to the point and pulls no punches. It doesn’t give a fairy tale illusion on Janis’s life but a real account of it, good and bad. If you want to read a good to honest book on one of music’s iconic gods then this one is for you.