Ah, summertime…and the livin’ is easy… No firewood to hustle, no ice to pound off the side of the boat…if you could even row out to her.
The height of the sun at noon is now 69.5 degrees overhead at this latitude (44 north). That’s using the formula, 90 degrees minus local latitude, plus 23.5 degrees for the earth at full tilt (or full tilt boogie, a Joplinism. More on her later). The sun is more than three times its height at the winter solstice (90 minus 44 minus the tilt)!
Or, as Janis would say, “Sssssummertiiiiiiime, chiiiild, you’re livin’ eeeasy! Fish are…, fish are jumpin’ now-ow-ow, hey the cotton, oh, the cotton is hiiiiiiiiigh.”
I was on a trip with a bunch of guys from our church a few years back, and we pulled up at a stoplight next to a Mercedes. Spontaneously, some of us started singing, “LORD! Won’t you buy me a Mercedes Benz! My friends all drive Porsches; I must make amends!”
This led to a discussion about Janis Joplin and probably to whether she was a genius or merely on drugs. One of the guys said that he never really appreciated her style because it just sounded like she was screaming.
“Oh, but she screamed exquisitely,” I said, “Nobody could scream like Janis.” (My friend is a Baptist pastor. It’s in his job description not to like her music.)
Janis took this lullaby from Porgy and Bess and transformed it into an apocalyptic struggle between the forces of God and the forces of evil—a cry of despair from Dante’s lowest circles of hell—a kozmic clash of the Titans, and she would even spell it that way (as in Kozmic Blues). Notice the electric guitar giving a surreal quality too—almost like a calliope at a carnival. Where did that idea come from?
Normally I don’t like these mixing genres; I hated it when Dolly Parton took Pete Seeger’s “Where Have All the Flowers Gone?”—one of the songs that most contributed to ending the Vietnam War and possibly taking down Johnson and Nixon—and turned it into a purty little song about flowers. Makes me convulse when I hear Dolly do that.
Janis, on the other hand, pulled it off. Or at least I think she did, and fine art is whatever I like.
Enjoy the summer, whether you like this video or not. And wear a hat. The sun will get you more than three times as fast.