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Wow. UD’s beloved Janis Ian is still at it.

Put her in high heels, so she can’t run
Carve out between her legs so she can’t come
Get her a dress, for easy access
Tell everybody that she’s just like all the rest

How long? How long, how long, how long
How long? How long, how long, how long

Tell me I’m ugly so I’ll buy your crap
Tell me you want me ’cause I don’t talk back
Tell me I carry the original sin
Tell me I’m holy when I cover up my skin


Pushing all the buttons there, eh? We’ve got FGM; we’ve got burqas. “[S]ome radio stations have told her they won’t play it,” and good for her! Who gets to be seventy and still get banned? “I will not disappear,” she sings.

Her voice is still remarkably strong, and her guitar work has held up well.

For UD, the Ian song that’s held up beautifully over decades and decades is Jesse, which I love to sing and play at the piano.

‘All the blues and the greens

Have been recently cleaned

And are seemingly new

Hey Jess me and you’

The song has a drifty sad pace which really grows in dramatic focus and intensity; more than that, the poetry of the thing is remarkable: All of its details are banal and domestic – the bed, the hearth, the light on the stairs, the floors and the boards, the pictures, the table – but they heighten until we feel the pathos of her material as well as emotional isolation (she still sets the table at noon).

And then we have at the end this amazing image: ‘We’ll swallow the light on the stairs.” Come back, and we’ll become the light. We’ll become all the light we need.

Margaret Soltan, January 17, 2022 4:13PM
Posted in: great writing

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