Society's Child- "I don't wanna see you any more baby"

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by varispeed, Oct 12, 2017.

  1. varispeed

    varispeed what if? Thread Starter

    Los Angeles Ca
    I always thought the last line was "Eyeeee won't see you any more, baby", which as a fading-into-reverb thing was okay enough for this little masterpiece record. Sort of a whimper, disappearing into a faint cop-out to the boy.

    But five minutes ago, I found out that what Janis really sings at the end there is "I DON'T WANNA see you any more baby".

    Which to me is WAY POWERFUL. Much MUCH more powerful. At least in hindsight to my 1967 brain that was hearing the line the other way.

    She caves. Majorly caves. The girl doesn't just moan to the boy that she won't see him any more there... she adopts the COMPLETE CAVING IN to the April-May 1967 suburbia mom-dad, fat cops, LBJ (not with my daughter you won't even though I'm for racial equality), underage-stuck-living-at-home, pounced-on-by-everyone-in-town...and, well........I don't WANT to see you any more".

    She doesn't just cop out like a little girl.... she looks into the boy's face and SHATTERS HIM with those words. While probably going completely numb and cold inside that will affect her interactions for the rest of her life and.... my senses are reeling a little.

    50 years late with this observation......hits me in a weird way. I love everything about that song and the way the record was made. Strange to almost hear it as if it were now a completely new song.

    With my newfound understanding of that last line, I NOW understand the label of the record where under the printed words "Society's Child", are the parenthesis "Baby, I've Been Thinking". The dreaded "we have to talk" thing.


    What an incredible record.
    cwitt1980, chacha, ajsmith and 4 others like this.
  2. rene smalldridge

    rene smalldridge Senior Member

    We STILL do.
  3. bRETT

    bRETT Forum Resident

    Boston MA
    The whole last verse really-- "When we're older things may chance, but for now this is the way they must remain." She's telling the boyfriend that she's "only society's child" and as such, has to send him packing. To me it sounds like she softens a bit in the "I don't wanna.." part, like the decision is painful to her but has no choice. Great record.
    Jarleboy and jamesmaya like this.
  4. kwadguy

    kwadguy Forum Resident

    Cambridge, MA
    And watch that video of Janis Ian singing the song on her own in the Leonard Bernstein special...amazing...

  5. Michael

    Michael I LOVE WIDE S-T-E-R-E-O!

    LOL...yea times are so much safer, better, today...mass murder in public places, THE PC POLICE, corrupt media, you name it...yea life is good.
    were you there in 67? I was...
    billnunan and Jarleboy like this.
  6. varispeed

    varispeed what if? Thread Starter

    Los Angeles Ca
    Yes, I was firmly entrenched in life and the music biz by 1967. Life surrounding the year 1967/before/after... in no particular order of severely affecting many (including me).....

    Medgar shot/murdered, Marilyn and others od and die on sleeping pills, the Herbert Clutter family mass murder 8 years earlier still rattles people, not to mention psycho Richard Speck murdering those 8 nurses in the summer of 1966, the rag-tag coup we try to pull off in Cuba fails (so much for our shining white knight image)...Kim Jong-un Nikita Kruschev is banging his shoe on a table, screaming "we will bury you".... which I take seriously. I try to take in the news of Diem and his brother being murdered, while not completely understanding the big bad picture and then 5 weeks later or whatever....Nov 22 1963 I'm in disbelief at 12:30pm as tv kicks in with news from Dallas..and then two days later, I'm watching tv and watch Oswald shot/murdered in real-time (bearing in mind that tv shows like Leave It To Beaver had been highly rated and had just stopped production....a sensory overload crash of eras separating at the tectonic plates), the cops are bashing random kids every day over on Sunset in 1965 for no good reason that I can see.

    I'm following the 1968 Buffalo Springfield tour when MLK shot/murdered that late afternoon..... I'm watching tv that hot June night in 68 as RFK shot/murdered, I'm just back from Chicago two days before all the kids heads start getting bashed in by the cops at the Democratic Convention, the three tv networks are ironclad tight in what can/will/won't go on air..... except for the increasing non-stop too-late-to-hit-the-on-air-kill-switch violence, murder on tv, increasing kids getting their draft numbers picked and shipping off because they aren't in college that summer.

    And on and on. When it gets down to it, no era is safe. Ever.

    I was around a lot of Black Panther activity at the general moment "Society's Child" was enjoying its brief chart run. Not that those two things correlate, but I don't equate the Panthers or "Society's Child" with the violence of the time..... just the unfairness of that time. Which was just another entire problem to deal with along with every other at those moments. Including the tv guide article that exposed the Harvey Weinstein the "Monkees don't play their own instruments" story where Mike says, "I don't care, I'll just head to a desert island and let everyone sue me for the next ten years".

    That general story seems to dwarf many of the other things I mention above. Or at least, it still gets some press now and then.

    All that aside, I'll say again that "Society's Child" is a masterpiece song and record. I was just watching the 1967 Leonard Bernstein tv special and listening to him praise the structure of the tune, the fact that a 15-year old came up with it.. and then beaming with respect as he introduces Janis to sing the tune.

  7. Michael

    Michael I LOVE WIDE S-T-E-R-E-O!

    I love the song and I bought the single...
    Jarleboy likes this.
  8. Jarleboy

    Jarleboy Forum Resident

    And to think Janis was so young. Impressive.
    John B Good likes this.
  9. CliffL

    CliffL Forum Resident

    Sacramento CA USA
    I was 11 in 1967 and don't recall hearing the song then, first heard it in 1978 on an excellent station that played older music. I was immediately stunned by the record and really impressed by its realism and emotional depth. And written and sung by a teenager, no less! I'm Black myself and before hearing Society's Child the only song I was familiar with that tackled the interracial dating issue was Does Your Mama Know About Me by Bobby Taylor and the Vancouvers. Janis' song was definitely a bold statement for the era in which it was released, and I understand some stations refused to play it.
    Jarleboy likes this.
  10. Chris DeVoe

    Chris DeVoe Forum Resident

    The reaction was far more extreme than that. People spat in her food at restaurants, she received death threats, people shouting "N***er lover!" and someone burned a radio station in Atlanta down according to her autobiography, also called Society's Child.

    You can read the pages in question at Google Books
    Last edited: Oct 13, 2017
    krock2009, CliffL and Jarleboy like this.
  11. chacha

    chacha Forum Resident

    mill valley CA USA
    It’s an amazing song and record.
    Brings tears to my eyes. Brilliantly powerful. The original mono 45 sounds the best to me. One of my favorite records ever.
    jamesmaya and Jarleboy like this.
  12. John54

    John54 Forum Resident

    Great song, another one I missed until the year-end roundup of '67.
  13. Mylene

    Mylene Forum Resident

    She wrote Hair Spun Gold when she was even younger and it's even more depressing.

    Chris DeVoe likes this.
  14. Chris DeVoe

    Chris DeVoe Forum Resident

    She said she wrote it when she was 12, and played it for her parents in the car as they drove from their home in New Jersey to her grandmother's house in the Bronx.

    Interestingly, she picked up the guitar as a rebellion against eight years of classical piano instruction (much as Kate Bush taught herself the piano as a rebellion against formal violin instruction at school.)
    Last edited: Oct 13, 2017
    Mylene likes this.
  15. First time I heard Societys Child was on the debut album from Spooky Tooth and I still associate the song with them rather than the writer.
    jwoverho likes this.
  16. Urban Spaceman

    Urban Spaceman Forum Goofy-Footer

    Brilliant song - love her version and the Spooky Tooth version too.
  17. kronning

    kronning Forum Resident

    This is a great video. This kind of reminds me of a Twilight Zone episode with Leonard channeling Rod for the prolog and epilog.
    Also, amazing a 13 year old could have such insight to write such a song. It was a big radio hit in L.A.
  18. varispeed

    varispeed what if? Thread Starter

    Los Angeles Ca
    There was a point around the last week of July 67, when I could hear Society's Child on the local radio in fairly heavy rotation with Baby You're A Rich Man, All You Need Is Love, Light My Fire, I was Made to Love Her, Ain't No Mountain High Enough, Windy, Groovin', the Monkees' surprisingly cool re-recording of "Words" + the surprisingly strong (imo) Pleasant Valley Sunday, and a host of other hourly records that kept me in a somewhat wonderful state of mind. I was so in love with pop music and record making and things had come so far since, say Lloyd Price's "Personality" or "Teen Angel" (both records that I loved in their own time).

    Society's Child was also in radio rotation during Monterey. imo, if Janis Ian had appeared at Monterey with that song, it would've been so perfect... maybe.

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