Ms Ian's Official Website is HERE LAST FM is HERE
Society's Child was a really radical song in the 1960's It's lyrics were written by a 13 year old girl for one and she talks openly about an interracila love affair between a white girl and an African American boy. The subject of the song ultimately gives in to the pressure of her family not allowing her to date outside her (kind).
In the 1960's interracial dating was a huge taboo and often ruined the lives of both parties. Parents hated it on both sides and often the kids were labeled for their entire high school tenure. Growing up in a automotive factory town definitely put fear into a young girl who considered interracial dating. You would never know if you would be verbally or physically be assaulted by eith side of the equation.
Now 4o years later interracial dating is common place on TV, in the Movies, and in public places everywhere in the US. Janis Ian was very brave to write this song let alone record it herself at such a young age.
Here is a bit of Bio Society's Child and Ms Ian:
This song is about an interracial romance. Janis was living in an all-black neighborhood in East Orange, NJ, where she was one of 5 white kids in the school. She explains: "I saw it from both ends. I was seeing it from the end of all the civil rights stuff on the television and radio, of white parents being incensed when their daughters would date black men, and I saw it around me when black parents were worried about their sons or daughters dating white girls or boys. I don't think I knew where I was going when I started it, but when I hit the second line, 'face is clean and shining black as night,' it was obvious where the song was going."
Janis: "I don't think I made a conscious decision to have the girl cop out in the end, it just seemed like that would be the logical thing at my age, because how can you buck school and society and your parents, and make yourself an outcast forever."
Janis didn't write this about a particular person: "My parents were the complete opposite of the parents in the song. They wouldn't have cared if I married a Martian, as long as I was happy... I felt bad for my Dad because everyone assumed he was a racist."
This was about the 10th song Janis wrote. Her first was a song called "Hair Of Spun Gold," which was published in Broadside when she turned 13. Broadside was an underground magazine that published Folk songs by artists like Bob Dylan and Pete Seeger before they hit the mainstream. They invited her to sing it at one of their periodic shows they put on in Greenwich Village, where it got a huge reaction. Broadside kept asking Janis back, and "Society's Child" became one of the songs that became part of these performances.
Janis Ian's initiation into rock 'n' roll was early and dramatic. In 1966, at the age of 15, she recorded Society's Child, a song she'd written about an interracial romance. It raced up the charts and caused an immediate firestorm. Ian soon became pals with some of the era's greatest musical stars, including Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix.
While she was fortunate not to meet their fates — both died of drug overdoses — Ian had her own tumultuous life. She attempted suicide, went broke, survived an abusive marriage, wrote and performed another megahit, At Seventeen, and became a lesbian activist. Ian, 57, recounts this and more in her new memoir, Society's Child