It’s widely acknowledged that the rock singer from the Flower Power era, Janis Joplin, has one of the greatest voices in the history of American popular music.
But, one wonders, what did Joplin use her voice for outside of song?
When she wasn’t singing hits like “Piece of My Heart” or “Me and Bobby McGee,” what was she using her breath to say, express, and bring to light? In other words, what did Joplin have to say about life, love, her craft, and the state of the world?
That’s what we’ll dive into and consider here today. So, without further ado, let’s explore the 22 best Janis Joplin quotes.
1. “On stage, I make love to 25,000 different people, then I go home alone.”
2. “Don’t compromise yourself. You are all you’ve got.”
3. “I’m one of those regular weird people.”
4. “Being an intellectual creates a lot of questions and no answers.”
5. “I’m a victim of my own insides. There was a time when I wanted to know everything. It used to make me very unhappy, all that feeling. I just didn’t know what to do with it. But now I’ve learned to make that feeling work for me.”
6. “All of a sudden, someone threw me in front of this rock and roll band. And I decided then and there that was it. I never wanted to do anything else.”
7. “Billie Holiday, Aretha Franklin. Now, they are so subtle, they can milk you with two notes. They can make you feel like they told you the whole universe. But I don’t know that yet. All I got now is strength. Maybe if I keep singing, maybe I’ll get it.”
8. “My father wouldn’t get us a TV, he wouldn’t allow a TV in the house.”
9. “I got treated very badly in Texas. They don’t treat beatniks too good in Texas. Port Arthur people thought I was a beatnik, though they’d never seen one and neither had I.”
10. “You got to get it while you can.”
11. “I always wanted to be an artist, whatever that was, like other chicks want to be stewardesses. I read. I painted. I thought.”
12. “Playing is just about feeling. Playing isn’t necessarily about misery. Playing isn’t necessarily about happiness. But it’s just about letting yourself feel all those things that you have already on the inside of you, but you’re all the time trying to push them aside because they don’t make for polite conversation or something.”
13. “I have to have the ‘umph.’ I’ve got to feel it, because if it’s not getting through to me, the audience sure as hell aren’t going to feel it either.”
14. “Guess what, I might be the first hippie pinup girl.”
15. “Who you are is what you settle for, you know?”
16. “Audiences like their blues singers to be miserable.”
17. “I can’t talk about my singing. I’m inside it. How can you describe something you’re inside of?”
18. “If I hold back, I’m no good. I’m no good. I’d rather be good sometimes, than holding back all the time.”
19. “I won’t quit to become someone’s old lady.”
20. “When I sing, I feel like when you’re first in love. It’s more than sex. It’s that point two people can get to they call love when you really touch someone for the first time, but it’s gigantic, multiplied by the whole audience. I feel chills.”
21. “You know why we’re stuck with the myth that only black people have soul? Because white people don’t let themselves feel things.”
22. “I’ve been looking around, and I noticed something: how much you really need to be loved. Ambition isn’t just a desperate quest for positions or money. It’s just love—lots of love.”