Janis Lyn Joplin would have turned 67 years old today.
Her classmate in Port Arthur, Texas recalled that as a little girl the future Queen of the Blues, "had been cute, then all of a sudden she got ugly. Her total self-respect took a broadside."
Janis's parents -- Seth, a Texaco engineer, and Dorothy, a college registrar -- knew this all too well. Their eldest daughter had seemed happy in her early years, then in high school, "She just changed totally, overnight," recalled Dorothy.
Wounded by her classmates' mockery, Janis became a fighter, a foul-mouth, and a hell-raiser.
(Steve, you've outdone yourself with this exhaustive, yet informative list. I trust our readers have enjoyed it as much as I.)
51. Death Cab for Cutie: Transatlanticism (Barsuk, 2003)
Ben Gibbard's twee voice delivers some of the most poignant lyrics in indie-rock (though after this album, the band inevitably made the leap to the majors and has been on Atlantic ever since). All of Death Cab's albums are wonderful, but this one's where their production values and songwriting intersected with the zeitgeist for maximum impact.
Vampire Weekend: Contra (Beggars Group/Rough Trade) On Vampire Weekend's second album, gone is the occasional pseudo-intellectualism of Ezra Koenig's lyrics, replaced with a literary style reminiscent of J.D. Salinger. Musically, the album is a departure from and an expansion of their previous effort. The production values are much better than their self-titled debut, and the risks they take in terms of instrumentation are much greater.