My friends all drive Porsches, I must make amends...
July 8, 2015 8:42 PM   Subscribe

 
But what about the story behind how “The Story Behind Janis Joplin's ‘Mercedes Benz’” was published in The Wall Street Journal?
posted by Going To Maine at 9:00 PM on July 8, 2015 [5 favorites]


I'm glad they didn't use Rip Torn's verse:

"Oh, Lord, I'm gonna stomp me
some Norm Mailer's ass..."
posted by CincyBlues at 9:15 PM on July 8, 2015 [3 favorites]


What, you didn't know that Rupert Murdoch sings that song unironically?
posted by oneswellfoop at 9:16 PM on July 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


But what about the story behind how “The Story Behind Janis Joplin's ‘Mercedes Benz’” was published in The Wall Street Journal?

Deemed not interesting enough, I suppose. However, you could always look into it and write it yourself.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 9:34 PM on July 8, 2015 [2 favorites]


However, you could always look into it and write it yourself.

Write it in reference to Jackie Jormp-Jomp just to be safe, though.
posted by rhizome at 9:36 PM on July 8, 2015 [5 favorites]


Things like this always make me wonder at the loss and what could be. Cause damn if she couldn't sing.
posted by drewbage1847 at 9:40 PM on July 8, 2015 [8 favorites]


re: coverage by WSJ, this song (or specifically its first stanza) is unironically quite popular amongst Wall St types; they usually associate primarily (or only) with its unironic use in Mercedes car ads in (at least) the 90s; there were multiple different such ads for different countries.
posted by Bwithh at 9:58 PM on July 8, 2015 [3 favorites]


I really liked this story. A couple of coincidences, a good time, a few minutes spare and the safety tape running, and voila! One of JJ's signature songs written in a short evening, sung that night and then recorded in a studio gap only days before she died. Thank doggness for the safety tape.
posted by Thella at 10:13 PM on July 8, 2015 [8 favorites]


But what about the story behind how “The Story Behind Janis Joplin's ‘Mercedes Benz’” was published in The Wall Street Journal?

Boomer nostalgia.
posted by MartinWisse at 10:51 PM on July 8, 2015 [6 favorites]


The WSJ has reverential pieces about sixties and seventies music all the time, alongside screeds from the ridiculous and irritating kvetcher Joe Queenan about (e.g.) how the Dead were purveyors of "plodding, limp, turgid, languid, unoriginal, inanimate, self-indulgent stoner music, an embarrassing relic from a bygone era." Not a mystery at all. Good cop, bad cop.
posted by blucevalo at 11:09 PM on July 8, 2015 [2 favorites]


Interesting story. I've always thought Joe Strummer's posthumous record Streetcore was kinda cobbled together from having lots of material of him fucking around on tape (or hard drive I suppose) and then a really great backing band and production team putting something together for the ages.

The point is, record everything and save it all because when your're dead and everyone realizes you were a genius, they'll put out epic records and everyone will be sorry they didn't give me the praise I deserved when I was alive.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 11:12 PM on July 8, 2015 [9 favorites]




the 45th anniversary of Joplin’s death

Fucking hell.

I loved Janis Joplin so much when I was a teenager. She wasn't some skinny model-type, but she was pure talent and charisma and aching cool. Her voice is just so full, of soul and pain and joy. I still find it hard to think of a better female role model for a kid who doesn't feel they measure up to what they're supposed to look like or be like. I liked to think that if we'd met she would have cackled and told me not to worry about that shit and gave me whiskey. One of a kind. Thanks for the post.
posted by billiebee at 4:15 AM on July 9, 2015 [17 favorites]


But what about the story behind how “The Story Behind Janis Joplin's ‘Mercedes Benz’” was published in The Wall Street Journal?

"Issued as a single in 1971 on the B-side of Joplin’s hit “Cry Baby,” “Mercedes Benz” has since been covered by more than 30 artists and used by Mercedes-Benz in its car ads."

Product placement?
posted by chavenet at 4:29 AM on July 9, 2015


Those Mercedes ads killed me. Didn't help that I first saw one during a commercial break in SNL, so naturally I assumed it was an ad parody of a clueless company adopting a clearly ironic song. Blew my mind when I discovered it was real. Would be like the California Tourist Board using the Dead Kennedy's Moon Over Marin or something.
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 5:23 AM on July 9, 2015 [9 favorites]


My Dad was from the pre-rock & roll generation, and generally hated any music he heard me playing in my teens and early twenties. Except this one song. For some reason, he really loved this one song.
posted by Paul Slade at 5:38 AM on July 9, 2015 [4 favorites]


I assumed it was an ad parody of a clueless company adopting a clearly ironic song. ... Would be like the California Tourist Board using the Dead Kennedy's Moon Over Marin or something.

As we've seen with Ronald Reagan's use of Springsteen's "Born In The USA" and Donald Trump's recent use of Neil Young's "Rocking in the Free World" and Nike's use of the Beatles' "Revolution", it doesn't really matter what original intent or message a pop song has. The co-opting of art and music by business interests, governments, corporations and politicians very often happens despite the user (company, politician, whatever) being quite aware of an artistic intent or message that actually runs counter to their ethos. "Hey, we bought it, we're gonna dress it up how we want to! Your song is anti-war, anti-class disparity? Fuck you, the chorus says U! S! A! really LOUD! It's gonna help me get elected!" Or, in this case, "So, your song is poking fun at blatant materialism? Good for you! But we sell status symbol cars and we're gonna use the song to sell EVEN MORE!"

That's just the way it is.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 5:39 AM on July 9, 2015 [10 favorites]


For some reason, he really loved this one song.

Well, it was a cappella. No distorted electric guitars or bashing drums. That might've been part of the appeal for him.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 5:40 AM on July 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


Apropos of my comment concerning the use of pop songs in political campaigns, there's this from NPR:

Playlist: Campaign Songs That Made Musicians Mad
posted by flapjax at midnite at 5:53 AM on July 9, 2015 [4 favorites]


We used to sing this at our pre-teen slumber parties in the late 60s, hoping to bring Janis back from the dead.
posted by maggiemaggie at 5:53 AM on July 9, 2015 [3 favorites]


that reminds me of my dad and the time that california jam was on in the mid-seventies - i think it was aerosmith that was winding up their set and like anyone who grew up in the swing era, he thought they were awful

next up, black sabbath, who started to play war pigs

i got up to change the channel and he said, "wait a minute - these guys are good!"
posted by pyramid termite at 5:55 AM on July 9, 2015 [13 favorites]


pt's dad liked Sabbath! That explains a lot!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 6:00 AM on July 9, 2015 [1 favorite]



Janis sings M-B live in Boston at her last live show.

Goose Creek Symphony's mountain-fiddle-with-a-horn-section cover came out not so long after Pearl was released and actually got more airplay than the original. (' fact, it also got more airplay than the rest of their oerve combined, which is a damn shame).

S'good.
 
posted by Herodios at 7:03 AM on July 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


Everybody who listened to one of the first four Black Sabbath albums liked them.
posted by bukvich at 7:05 AM on July 9, 2015 [3 favorites]


But what about the story behind how “The Story Behind Janis Joplin's ‘Mercedes Benz’” was published in The Wall Street Journal?

Boomer nostalgia.


This kind of comment adds nothing.

Also, once again: The Wall Street Journal editorial page is not the Wall Street Journal.
 
posted by Herodios at 7:11 AM on July 9, 2015 [5 favorites]


War Pigs has a solid, swinging, danceable groove.
posted by Cookiebastard at 7:51 AM on July 9, 2015 [2 favorites]


My Dad was from the pre-rock & roll generation, and generally hated any music he heard me playing in my teens and early twenties. Except this one song.

My Dad was pre-rock & roll, too, but he loved Joplin. For him, she just fit right in to the great female blues singer tradition.

If you like Janis and haven't seen Festival Express yet, do yourself a favor and get hold of it.
posted by yoink at 9:32 AM on July 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


I guess the WSJ has a series of these and they're quite good.

Joni Mitchell on the Muse Behind ‘Carey’
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 9:58 AM on July 9, 2015 [2 favorites]


Oh good, a place for me to say this, even though it contributes nothing to the conversation:

That song will still be played in a hundred years and people will still love it. It's one of my top ten - no, top five - ok maybe top three - favorite songs ever and it's because of her.

There. I've said it. Now it's on the internet for all time. For All Time.
posted by merelyglib at 10:06 AM on July 9, 2015 [2 favorites]


Her version of Trouble in Mind (with typewriter) is wonderful.
posted by monopas at 10:06 AM on July 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


Royal Caribbean, "Lust For Life."

The 20 Most Inappropriate Songs Ever Used in Commercials #1: Pepsi, “Brown Sugar”
posted by kirkaracha at 11:22 AM on July 9, 2015


War Pigs has a solid, swinging, danceable groove.

This is absolutely true, and was a surprise to me (on drums) last year at Open Mike Night in the bar when the ex-metal band guitar guy shifted into it during a free-form medley, and we really took off.

"What was that?" I asked at the end, and he looked at me, amazed I was so clueless. 40+ years after the fact, I had no idea I liked Black Sabbath, but War Pigs has become just about my favorite song to play these days.
posted by LeLiLo at 11:55 AM on July 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


Fox once used "I Don't Like Mondays" for a promo in which House was moving to Mondays. It's not that network and advertising types don't Get It, it's just that they don't care anymore.
posted by Spatch at 12:45 PM on July 9, 2015


Well, it was a cappella. No distorted electric guitars or bashing drums. That might've been part of the appeal for him.

Could be, though Joplin's voice was pretty raw even on its own.

That's just the way it is.

That's the way it is now, but it's not so long ago that selling your songs for use in ads was universally agreed to be Sucking Satan's Dick. The only big name musician I can think of who holds the line these days is Nick Cave. He said in an interview once that fans have used his songs to marry their true loves or bury their best friends, and as long as that was the case selling them to advertisers would be an unforgivable cheapening of that memory. Call me a sentimental old fool, but I rather liked him for that.
posted by Paul Slade at 12:47 PM on July 9, 2015 [5 favorites]


That's the way it is now, but it's not so long ago that selling your songs for use in ads was universally agreed to be Sucking Satan's Dick.

Hey, at 58 years old, I am An Old Fart Who Knows That. :)

But fact is, there's still plenty of artists who refuse to have their work used in advertising. And often when a song is used in advertising, it's because the artist doesn't control the licensing of it.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 11:29 PM on July 9, 2015


Mr Myers writes a rather good blog, which also contains his Wall Street Journal articles.
posted by On the Corner at 12:05 AM on July 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


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