JANIS IAN IS MY MUSE

Almost four decades ago, she brought
“Tea and Sympathy” to my apartment
And stayed long after midnight
Because we were both too tired to ride the
Milk train anymore
– I knew then that
There was another soul inhabiting
Space on the planet with whom I felt
Truly sympatico, and it would not matter
If we ever met, as long as I had her
Writing to see me through, and through

As happens with muses, mine would flit
In and out of consciousness; sometimes her
Writing often mirrored my life patterns
So closely I could not stand to listen
And would stack her vinyl out of sight

Until I could not bear its absence – then pull
Out “Stars” and “Hunger” and put them on
The turntable, letting both tears and empathy
Help my aching heart expose itself to
The light, listening again and again to
“Getting Over You” and “Jesse” and of course
Sharing “Tea and Sympathy” once again,
A song that seemed to be our anthem.

Just recently, my muse came to the town
Which I now call home and performed
In a smallish theatre with some cafe-style
Seating down near the stage – which is where
I was fortunate enough to sit.

Oh my, Janis Ian is every bit as wonderful
As I had hoped—in addition to playing
One of the meanest blues guitars you’re
Likely to hear anywhere, and I do mean
Anywhere and from anyone, including
slow-hand Clapton, Jonny Lang, Buddy Guy,
and Jeff Beck …

In person – she is as gifted a story-teller
As one could wish for; a natural raconteur,
With a self-deprecating way of recounting
Anecdotes that fill in bits of her history
That never seems rehearsed or boring …
I was entranced; and imagine, in her fifties
Her voice is clearer, more resonant, strong
And pitch-perfect than ever …

I purchased her autobiography that night
—customs wouldn’t allow her to bring her CD’s
Across the border for some reason but the
Book was already being sold here —go figure;
I began reading the book that night and could not
Put it down, “Society’s Child” is mesmerizing
And held me in its thrall completely

Now, not only is she my muse, she
Has vaulted into heroine status as well
As I join her legion of fans that work
Within her organization for freedom and
Social Justice – in fact parts of her activist life
Ring so familiar, I’m not sure she and I haven’t
Been leading somewhat parallel lives at times;
It’s almost eerie – but in a good way.

The capper to my enthusiastic and continued
Embracing of my muse as one of the best,
In all senses of the word was this – when she
Realized how disheartened we were that we’d
Be unable to buy any of her CD’s at her show,
She made this offer – if we ordered any of her
Stuff off her website, all we needed to do was
Scrawl “Canada” anywhere on the order form,
And she would see that we got a free
DVD of one of her recent performances –

Buying anything from Ian is a win-win proposition
Since a portion of every sale goes to her
Foundation, Pearl, named for her late mother
Well, I did – and she did; not only did she include
The free DVD, she also sent along two signed
Guitar picks, a nice touch, I thought – tokens
I carry everywhere – ready inspiration.

Yeah, Janis Ian is definitely my muse
More than once I’ve tried to deconstruct
One of her songs and rewrite it as a poem
And realized her true brilliance when I
Discover just how difficult that task is …
Right now the song in question is “Shadow”
For she is just someone standing closer to
The sun and I am just the shadow by her side

Yeah – I wish

S.E.Ingraham©

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7 thoughts on “JANIS IAN IS MY MUSE

  1. wow… this is so cool Sharon… to have felt that connection all these years and to have a sense of her “realness” as a kind person who kept her word and more…

  2. very cool to see her live after being a fan for so many years already.. music surely is inspirational and there are people that just sing and play their way right into our souls..nice

  3. Love tears and empathy/ tea and sympathy… and especially the second stanza. I do remember this, Sharon, but not sure from where. Maybe our BD days?

  4. i actually know a few songs….at seventeen…sounds like a cool chance to get to see her as well…smiles….felt similar when i saw U2…ha, i like the i wish at the end as well…

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