Janis Joplin (January 19, 1943 – October 4, 1970) was one of the most popular musical artists of her time. She belted out rock, blues, and soul music through the ’60s, and appeared at the iconic Woodstock rock festival in August of 1969. Sales of her music total 18.5 million albums, making her one of the top-selling artists in the United States. Posthumously, she was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1995.
Joplin’s unique voice and electrifying stage presence made her unbelievably popular to the alternative culture of the American 1960s.
Unfortunately, she struggled throughout her adult life with drug and alcohol problems and she died young in an accidental heroin overdose in 1970 at the age of 27. Loved for her music and her quirky personality, Joplin was a hero of the ’60s.
Janis Joplin Quotes
Here are the top 40 quirky Janis Joplin quotes, to remind us all to be unflinchingly ourselves.
- “You are what you settle for. You are only as much as you settle for.”
- “At least we know we tend to be afraid. If you object to my plural noun, I’ll retract it.”
- “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.”
- “On stage, I make love to twenty-five thousand people; and then I go home alone.”
- “Being an intellectual creates a lot of questions and no answers. You can fill your life up with ideas and still go home lonely. All you really have that really matters are feelings. That’s what music is to me.”
- “There isn’t going to be any turning point. There isn’t going to be any next-month-it’ll-be-better, next *** year, next *** life. You don’t have any time to wait for. You just got to look around you and say, ‘So this is it. This is really all there is to it. This little thing.’ Everybody needing such little things and they can’t get them. Everybody needing just a little…confidence from somebody else and they can’t get it. Everybody, everybody fighting to protect their little feelings. Everybody, you know, like reaching out tentatively but drawing back. It’s so shallow and seems so…***…it seems like such a shame. It’s so close to being like really right and good and open and amorphous and giving and everything. But it’s not. And it ain’t gonna be.”
- “You can destroy your now by worrying about tomorrow.”
- “Don’t compromise yourself. You’re all you’ve got.”
- “I always wanted to be an artist, whatever that was, like other chicks want to be stewardesses. I read. I painted. I thought.”
- “If you can get them once, man, get them standing up when they should be sitting down, sweaty when they should be decorous, smile when they should be applauding politely-and I think you sort of switch on their brain, man, so that makes them say: ‘Wait a minute, maybe I can do anything.’ Whoooooo! It’s life. That’s what rock and roll is for, turn that switch on, and man, it can all be.”
- “I’m a victim of my own insides. There was a time when I wanted to know everything. I read a lot. I guess you’d say I was pretty intellectual. It’s odd, I can’t remember when it changed. 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 how to make feeling work for me. I’m full of emotion and I want a release, and if you’re on stage and if it’s really working and you’ve got the audience with you, it’s a oneness you feel. I’m into me, plus they’re into me, and everything comes together. You’re full of it. I don’t know, I just want to feel as much as I can, it’s what ‘soul’ is all about.”
- “The more you live, the less you die.”
- “To be true to myself, to be the person that was on the inside of me, and not play games. That’s what I’m trying to do mostly in the whole world, is not bullshit myself and not bullshit anybody else.”
- “I gotta go on doin’ it the way I see it…I got no choice but to take it like I see it. I’m here to have a party while I’m on this earth…I’m gettin’ it now, today. I don’t even know where I’m gonna be twenty years from now, so I’m just gonna keep on rockin’, cause if I start saving up bits and pieces of me…man, there ain’t gonna be nothing left for Janis.”
- “When you hold somebody, you gotta hold them like it’s the last minute of your life.”
- “Singing, it’s like it’s like loving somebody, it’s a supreme emotional and physical experience.”
- “All my life I just wanted to be a beatnik. Meet all the heavies, get stoned, get laid, have a good time. That’s all I ever wanted. Except I knew I had a good voice and I could always get a couple of beers off of it. All of a sudden someone threw me in this rock ‘n’ roll band. They threw these musicians at me, man, and the sound was coming from behind. The bass was charging me. And I decided then and there that that was it. I never wanted to do anything else. It was better than it had been with any man, you know. Maybe that’s the trouble.”
- “It’s not what isn’t, it’s what you wish was that makes unhappiness.”
- “As good as you’ve been to this world is as good as it’s gonna be right back to you.”
- “I read a story about some old opera singer once, and when a guy asked her to marry him, she took him backstage after she had sung a real triumph, with all the people calling for her, asked, ‘Do you think you could give me that?’ That story hit me right, man. I know no guy ever made me feel as good as an audience. I’m really far into this now, really committed. Like, I don’t think I’d go off the road for long now, for life with a guy no matter how good. Yeah, it’s the truth. Scary thing to say though, isn’t it?”
- ““Life is too damn short and [screwed] up to go through it silently loving someone and never telling them how you feel. [Screw] the consequences, [screw] the implications of the actions, to hell with it all… whatever happens as a result is better than the nothingness that is inevitable with silence.”
- “Like most girls I’m always really self-conscious about do I look fat, if my legs are short, if I’m weird shaped, but when I go on stage, man, it never occurs to me. I think I look beautiful.”
- “I’m just doing what I wanted to and what feels right and not settling for bullshit and it worked. How can they be mad at that?”
- “In my insides, it really hurts if someone doesn’t like me. It’s silly.”
- “Why should I hold back now and sound mediocre, just so I can sound mediocre twenty years from now?”
- “I had a lot of hurts and confusions. You know, it’s hard when you’re a kid to be different. You’re all full of things, and you don’t know that it’s about.”
- “I’d rather not sing than sing quiet.”
- “You can’t stay in your home town and play because the two people will get tired of seeing you.”
- “I love being a star more than life itself.”
- “They asked me, How did you learn to sing the blues like that? How did you learn to sing that heavy? I just opened my mouth and that’s what I sounded like. You can’t make up something that you don’t feel. I didn’t make it up. I just opened my mouth and it existed.”
- “Texas is OK if you want to settle down and do your own thing quietly, but it’s not for outrageous people, and I was always outrageous.”
- “Guess what, I might be the first hippie pinup girl.”
- “I talk to the audience, look into their eyes. I need them and they need me.”
- “I don’t know what happened. I just exploded. I’d never sung like that before. I used to stand still and sing simple, but you can’t sing like that in front of a rock band. You have to sing loud and move wild with all that in back of you. Now, I don’t know how to perform any other way.”
- “At my concerts most of the chicks are looking for liberation, they think I’m gonna show ’em how to do it.”
- “My business is to enjoy and have fun. And why not, if in the end everything will end, right?”
- “You know why we’re stuck with the myth that only black people have soul? Because white people don’t let themselves feel things.”
- “What we’ve had to do is learn to control success, put it in perspective, and not lose the essence of what we’re doing – the music.”
- “Freedom is just another word for when you have NOTHING left to lose.”
- “If you’ve got a today, don’t wear it tomorrow. Tomorrow never happens. It’s all the same day.”
Cher started her career around the same time as Janis, but they had very different career paths. Check out our collection of Cher’s Best Quotes.
Janis Joplin Video – “To Love Somebody”
This is an amazing performance from the Dick Cavett Show on July 18, 1969. At the time this was one of the most popular talkshows in the world and exposed viewers to a lot of people they might not otherwise know about. This performance really capture’s the essence of Janis and why so many fans LOVE her!
Janis Joplin never had an easy life; it was never easy to be Janis Joplin. She nonetheless loved life and performing, and she was honored by the Rolling Stones as number 28 on their 2008 list of the 100 Greatest Singers of All Time.
An amazing vocalist and a brave and tenacious individual, Janis Joplin was an iconic ’60s singer who lives on in our collective memory. These quotes inspire us all to be courageous enough to be truly ourselves.
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