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Genesis Publications (Hardcover)

5 Stars

By Gillian G. Gaar

The centerpieces of this gorgeous book are the re-creations of two scrapbooks Janis Joplin put together: one while in high school (the “Days & Summers” part), and the other as a rising music star in San Francisco (the “Scrapbook 1966-68” part). The book also serves as a Joplin biography, featuring interviews from family and friends: Joplin’s siblings, Big Brother’s Peter Albin, Grace Slick, Kris Kristofferson and poster artist Stanley Mouse, to mention a few.

For all her reputation as one of rock’s great rebels, Days & Summers reveals Joplin’s very conventional upbringing. There’s a copy of the very first article about her, as a teenage volunteer at the local library, posing by one of her drawings. The high school scrapbook has copies of the school football team schedule, a “Certificate of Award” for accomplishments in “English — Journalism,” and the program for a meeting of the Future Teachers of America club of which Joplin was a member. It’s a nostalgic look at 1950s American culture.

The “1966-68” scrapbook charts Joplin’s rise to fame. Among the many articles and artifacts, there’s an early article from the Austin Statesman, heralding her as the “best blues singer in the country.” A handbill for the January 1966 “Trips Festival,” with a handwritten notation underneath: “Ken Kesey’s Trips Festival started it all.” Her astrological chart. A poem from a fan, “shyly handed to me after a gig.” There’s even part of an admonishing letter from her father, asking if she’ll confirm that she won’t be returning to college in Texas. Suspecting the answer, he offers grudging support: “All we can do, I guess, is to wish you the very best of luck and all success you hope for.” It’s great fun to browse through, and the excitement that Joplin clearly had in charting her own career is palpable.

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The book’s final section features quotes and more memorabilia. It doesn’t have as much of a personal touch, but is still a nice addendum to the main event. It’s especially heartwarming to read how much she’s still missed; “I’ll never forget that woman,” says Powell St. John, who played with Joplin in Austin.

Days & Summers is available in Collector and Deluxe editions, each also including a 7-inch single with 1964 recordings of Joplin and Jorma Kaukonen. They’re not cheap, but as Joplin might have said, “If you’ve got the bread — dig it!”



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