Janis Ian was catapulted into the spotlight in 1966 at the age of fifteen, when her soul-wrenching song Society's Child became a hit. An intimate portrait of an interracial relationship, Society's Child climbed the charts despite the fact that many radio
"I was born into the crack that split America," Ian writes, and her early immersion in the folk music scene of the 1960s helped shape her prodigious songwriting talents while she was still in her teens. The autobiography shares a title with her first hit, a song about a doomed interracial romance that was considered too controversial for many record labels and radio stations. The pressures of the music industry and her troubled family life drove Ian to a nervous breakdown at the age of 19. It was in the following long period of recovery that she wrote her most famous song, "At Seventeen." ("I'd never sing it in public," she says of her initial feelings about the song. "It was just too humiliating.") Soon after reaching that recording peak, her life was derailed by a series of troubles ranging from an abusive marriage (to a man she first met because she was in love with his girlfriend) to massive tax liabilities to bouts with septicemia and chronic fatigue syndrome. The roller-coaster ride may be typical stuff for celebrity autobiography, but fans will appreciate the candor with which Ian discusses these hardships and her gradual path to happiness as an independent singer-songwriter in Nashville. (July)
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July 23, 2008
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