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Janis Joplin Sings The Cannabis Blues

Iconic 60s singer Janis Joplin - who was born 74 years ago today - is best known for rollicking blues-rock songs like Piece of My Heart and soulful ballads like Me and Bobby McGee. But in her early career, she mixed things up by paying homage to the jazz age during live sets. And nothing captures her blending of the old with the new like her ode to marijuana in "Mary Jane."

The song was recorded in San Francisco in 1965, but it sounds like it might've echoed through the halls of speakeasies during the Roaring Twenties. Joplin's vocals were backed by the Dick Oxtot Jazz Band who added woozy clarinets and a ragged piano to the track. 

But the lyrics are all 60s. "Mary Jane" tells the tale of a down-and-out hippie who's always in need of some green. So she spends her days gathering change and looking for dealers in the street. But she doesn't mind because cannabis offers the sort of pick-me-up she needs to get by in her cold, unfeeling world. Here's a sampling:

Oh when I'm feeling lonesome and I'm feelin' blue
there's only one way to change
Now I walk down the street now lookin' for a man
one that knows my Mary Jane
Mary Jane, Mary Jane it's my Mary Jane.

Check out the full track, which was released posthumously in the double album Janis in 1975.


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