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…
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”.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
Pat: Well, that seems simple enough.
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…
“I’m Still Standing”, the first single, is now available via your preferred music service.
Janis’ old website has been archived and can still be accessed.
Compare it all to Janis’ original 1999 website.
Stay tuned for 2022 tour dates and more information!