Multiple Grammy Award Winning Artist, Songwriter and Musician
Celebrating a lifetime in music
Conversations With My Wife – An album, a bra, and supply chain conspiracies
Pat: Where are you going? Janis: To work. <pause> Pat: Where are you working? Janis: In my workspace. Pat: So, you’re going downstairs. Janis: Yes. Pat <confused>: Why are you wearing a bra to go downstairs? Janis: It’s Record Release Day. First album in 15 years! I’m celebrating my fabulousness. Pat: By wearing a bra? Janis: I always wear a bra when I Go To Work. Pat: Because… Janis: Um… <pause> Janis <triumphantly>: Because I’m At Work. And At Work, I wear a bra. <silence> Pat: I thought the album came out last year? Janis: So did I. These past two years really got smeared together, didn’t they? In real time, it’s out today. In all digital formats. And for those of us who don’t trust The Cloud, physical CDs are available in local stores everywhere but Europe, the UK, Ireland, Australia, Japan, and Ittoqqortoormiit. Pat: Why can’t I buy a CD if I’m in Ittoqqortoormiit? That’s discrimination! Janis: Blame the supply chain disruptions. Can’t even get vinyl until August. Pat <darkly>: Sounds like a conspiracy to me. Janis: Only because you’re paying attention. Pat: If I lived in Europe, I would want to play it in my CD player while I drove to work. Janis <patiently>: No one drives to work in Europe. They take the train. Pat: Still. I would want a CD. Janis: We haven’t gotten them through yet. Hopefully soon. Pat: Wait! I could order from your website! Support the artist by buying direct! Drive up sales!! Janis: Pat, you already have a copy. Pat: I do? I only have the one that came out last year. <silence> Pat <excited>: Janis, if enough people bought the album and bundles from your website, we could get you a #1 record! Janis <still patient>: No one is tracking my website sales. And shipping overseas is ruinously expensive. We can’t even get anything through to Australia right now. They say it’s our postal system, we say it’s their postal system… Pat <darkly>: Sounds like another conspiracy to me. Janis <cheerfully>: Back to the 60’s!! Conspiracies and protest songs! Folk music! Eclectic solos! Be the first on your block! Pat: You really are determined that this is your swansong? You’ll never make another solo studio album? Janis: Nope. Pat: That’s ridiculous. This is what you do. Janis: Nope. What I do is write, and be creative. What I’m doing is going out on tour for the next eleven months – Pat: – while wearing a bra. Janis: Yes, but only when I Go To Work!
Featured image by Keith Stokes
Conversations With My Wife – Chocolates
Janis: What are you doing? Pat: Packing Christmas gifts. Janis: What happened to Chanukah? Pat: If you’ll spell it right, I’ll tell you. Janis: I am NOT spelling it without the kchekch sound. Pat: Omigod I can almost HEAR that spelling! Janis : Do you like it? I had to make it up. Everyone around here kept telling me to have a happy Chinookah… Pat: It sounds like you’re trying to cough up a hairball. Gracie Mae: Ewwwwww… (Yes we know dogs can’t say that, but you should see the look on her face.) Janis: Is there any chocolate left? Pat: Yes. Two extra packages. Janis: Can I have one? Pat: No. Janis: Can I have one please? Pat: No. Janis: Can I have one pretty-please-I’m-so-tired-I’ve-been-working-all-day-for-the-good-of-this-family-and-I-desperately-need-chocolate please? Pat: No. Janis: You are so mean!! Pat: No I’m not. I’m practical. Janis: How is withholding chocolate from me practical?! Pat: If someone suddenly brings us a Christmas gift, we’ll be able to reciprocate right away, just as though we’d already thought about them. Janis: But there will be no card. Pat: Already thought of it. See, each of these has a generic card attached. All I have to do is say “Just a second, let me get yours!”, run into my office, write their name on the card, and voila! Janis: Just make sure you don’t use a fountain pen. You’ll have to wait for the ink to dry. Janis: There is still chocolate, Pat. I can see it. Pat: I swear, sometimes living with you is like living with a child. Janis: I am supposed to remain childlike. I Am An Artist. Pat: Child-LIKE is different from child-ISH. Janis: There is nothing childish about wanting chocolate, Pat. Besides, it’s good for you! All the current studies say so. Pat: Current studies also say staying underweight increases your life span. Which do you want to go with? Janis: Right now? Chocolate. Pat: No. These are for guests. Janis: We never have guests. Pat: Possibly because we never have anything to offer them because you eat all the chocolate. Janis: Do not! Pat: Do too! Janis: Do not! Pat: Do too! Janis: You do know that IF I had chocolate, and IF I ate it all right now, I wouldn’t be tempted tomorrow because there would be none left in the house. Janis: And therefore it would be much easier for me to stay on my diet through the holidays, because there would be no chocolate in the house. Janis: And you would be doing me a great favor if I could eat it all now and get rid of it… Think of the karmic value to your next life, such an unselfish act! Pat: Oh for gosh sake, here. Take the chocolate! Janis: Thankyouthankyouthankyouthankyouthankyou. Janis: These are very small pieces, Pat. Pat: I know. Janis: Extremely small. Pat: Yes, extremely small. Janis: I would swear they were bigger when I was a kid. Pat: You’re probably right. Then again, it’s all about perspective. You were a lot smaller when you were a kid. Maybe they just looked bigger. Janis: Well, yes, I am taller now. Pat: Not by much. Pat: You don’t have to eat them, you know. Janis: Yes I do. They were a present from my wife. It would be terribly ungracious of me not to eat them. Pat: That’s you all right. Miss Gracious. Janis: You are correct! I learned to be gracious living in the South!! Pat: Can I have one? Janis: No. They are mine. Pat: So much for being gracious. Janis: I AM being gracious. I am going to eat them in the other room, as I write you a thank you card. Pat: Sometimes, Janis, I despair. Really, I despair.
Conversations With My Wife – They Shoot Singles, Don’t They?
Scene: Janis leaning out a living room window, casting invisible items into the open air. Pat enters the room. Action. Pat: What are you doing?! I thought we’d agreed you’re too old for Peter Pan to show up and teach you to fly. Get back from there, it’s dangerous! Janis: I’m throwing my single out into the open air. <Makes throwing gestures.> Janis: Fly, little single! Fly! Be free! Pat: There’s a new single? Why don’t I have an autographed copy for my collection? Janis: Your “collection” is entirely too big as it is. Pat <virtuously>: I have every single Janis Ian 8-track ever made. Every. Single. One. Autographed. Why don’t I have a signed copy of this single? Janis: It’s a digital single. <silence> Janis: Not physical. Digital. Pat: That’s silly. How could you play it in a jukebox? Janis: You use a virtual jukebox. Pat: Nonsense. If it’s not a CD how will I play it in my car? Janis: Your car still has a CD player? <silence> Janis: The point is that I have an album coming out — Pat: — yes, I know, I had to eat TV dinners for three months because of it — Janis: — and I’m releasing the second single today — Pat: — not to mention tuna noodle casserole which even I got tired of after a while. <silence> Janis: It’s good I was out of the house for that. Really, if God had meant us to eat warmed over tuna, he’d have spawned them in microwaves. Pat: You just don’t appreciate the finer things in life. Janis: Yes, well, back to me, I’m releasing my single into the open air, and asking the universe to listen. Pat: What song is it? Janis: “Resist.” Pat: You can’t release “Resist.” Not into the open air. People will hear it. Janis: That’s kind of the point. Pat: No no no. That’s a dangerous song, Janis. It talks about sex. And feminism. Graphic stuff you wouldn’t be allowed to teach in normal high schools, let alone in Texas. Janis <pulling her head out of the window>: What is that weird smell? Pat: Probably your imagination. Go back to “Resist.” Why on earth would you put that out? Why not something safe, like “Baby Shark?” I thought your a cappella rendition was very moving. Janis: No, it has to be “Resist.” Also, I think it’s one of the best songs I’ve ever written. Pat: Nevertheless. Janis Ian singing “I cannot be your virgin and I will not be your whore.” Really?! Janis <annoyed>: Really! What’s wrong with that? Pat: I don’t know, I kind of liked the idea of you still being a virgin. Of sorts. Janis: At seventy? Pat: I did say “Of sorts”…. <longer silence> Pat: Wait, what do you mean, you’re releasing a single? You need a record company to release a record. Janis: I have a record company. Pat: You have a record company? Why did I not know this? Janis: I started Rude Girl Records back in 2012. Remember? Pat: I do not remember…. Boy, if you’d told me you owned a whole record company… <silence> Pat: Wait a minute. Doesn’t that mean I also own a record company? <silence> Janis: I believe I’ll go make dinner now. Pat: Don’t bother. I’ve got a tuna noodle casserole in the oven.
The Light At The End Of The Line is now available for pre-order. Pre-order the album and exclusive bundles (including signed items!) from the “official store” for delivery on or before the album’s January 21, 2022 release date, or pre-order/pre-save from your preferred digital music service. Showing your support by pre-ordering the album goes a long way.
Pat: What are all these boxes? Janis: My new album. Pat: You made a new album? Janis: Yes. Didn’t you notice? Pat: I thought dinner was suspiciously late a few times… <silence> Pat: It’s a real album? Janis <sighs>: It’s a “real” album. Pat: So I can buy it on CD? Janis: Yes. You and twelve other people. The rest can download it. Pat <doubtfully>: How is it I didn’t know about this? Janis: You were busy being retired and doing jigsaw puzzles. Pat: But surely I would have noticed that you were writing a lot! Janis <reasonably>: Why would you notice? I still cooked us a real meal every day. Pat: Hey, I made tuna fish casserole! Twice!! Janis: Like I said, a real meal. Pat <musing>: I DID notice you were talking to yourself more than usual. Janis <irritated>: That’s called “writing” and “thinking”, Pat. Not “talking to myself”. Pat <also irritated>: Uh-huh. Like when you’re playing computer solitaire and tell me you’re just “letting the back of your brain work”. <silence> Janis: I think it’s the best album I’ve ever made.
Pat <looking at a CD>: The cover’s black and white. Janis: Yes, the front and back are both black and white. Pat: Couldn’t we afford color? <silence> Pat: I’m glad you finally took my advice and recorded “I’m Still Standing” on a real album. But “Resist”… that’s going to land you back in Facebook jail. Honestly, I’ve already bailed you out seven times. And what if they jail all the musicians with you? My credit card has a limit, you know! Janis: It’s mostly acoustic, just me. <silence> Pat: Couldn’t we afford musicians? Janis <sighing>: Why don’t you just listen to the album, and I can get some other work done? <Pat leaves the room, CD in hand. Hours pass. She re-enters the kitchen as Janis is preparing dinner.> Janis: What’s wrong? Why are you crying?! Pat: It’s just so sad, Janis! Janis: That’s your reaction to my first album of new songs in fifteen years? Jeez, I’m really living up to my reputation for depression. Pat: No, I just listened to the title song. You know, “The Light at the End of the Line.” Janis: Yes, I know that one… Pat: And then there was “Better Times Will Come”. Which really shocked me, I have to tell you. Honestly, it shocked me almost as much as when you decided to put “Baby Shark” in your live shows. <silence> Pat: I mean, it’s a FOLK song. Why is there a Dixieland Band? Why is a country artist like Vince Gill on it? And could we not afford to give Diane Schuur some lyrics? Janis: That’s called “scatting”. There are no lyrics. Pat <sitting down>: Honey, we need to have a family meeting. <Janis sits down.> Pat: Sweetheart. I know the past couple of years have been hard. I know you’ve been feeling isolated and cut off from other artists, and I know you’ve been depressed. But we have savings. We could afford a color photograph. <long silence> Janis: <sigh> Okay, I’m going to explain it in depth this one time, because I love you and I don’t want you to worry. The black and white exterior represents the monochromatic world we’ve been forced to live in as a result of Covid isolation and the political maneuvering social media has created and magnified. The front cover, of me at seventy, represents the wisdom age and hindsight bring, as reflected by the daring use of first takes and empty space on many of the album cuts. The back cover, of me at sixteen, represents youth reflecting upon itself and its place in the world – Pat: – or just being a whiney 16-year-old – Janis: – while the inside artwork, in full color, represents the possibility of change, the hope of recovery, and the certainty that there are, indeed, better times ahead. The use of artists who practice in different genres indicates my willingness to accept and embrace global unity, while at the same time remaining true to my own inner and outer voices, which speak clearly through a backdrop of equal parts illusion and definition. The album as a whole is an arc, not just of almost 60 years as a professional songwriter and musician, but of the world at large as we encounter the unknown, dissolve into fear, despair, begin to hope, feel triumphant, are knocked down by the unknown again, dissolve into fear and despair, and on and on. The end of the album assumes that the universe is circular, entropy continues, and things will forever be falling apart, then rising, only to fall again. Much like the phoenix of old. <pause> Pat: Well, that seems simple enough. <longer pause> Pat: I still think you could have given Deedles some lyrics instead of forcing her to make them up. That’s just not right. Janis: Well, I cut corners where I could…