The Great Saturday Night Swindle

Posted by ESC on April 10, 2005

GREAT SATURDAY NIGHT SWINDLE, THE - "She (Janis Joplin) liked to tell a story about herself, explaining how she came to understand the world and her place in it. It started with her father, Seth Joplin, the only person in Port Arthur who 'made her think.' When she was twenty years old and still struggling with her desire to become a singer, she wrote him a long letter about her frustrations and unmet expections:

'(You) always told me it was going to get better, and I always thought it was an incline up, that one day would level off. And you know, you motherf**ker, it ain't leveling off.People used to tell me, when you grow up, it'll be okay, or when you get the right man, it'll be okay. I did all those things and it wasn't okay.I felt burned.'

She mailed her father the letter. Seth Joplin had a best friend, 'the only other intellectual in town,' she explained. 'This guy also dug me a lot and thought a lot of me. And my father showed him the letter.' The next time she returned home to Port Arthur, her father's best friend walked in, 'with a sly smile on his face and he reached out his hand and said, 'Well, Janis, I hear ya heard about the Great Saturday Night Swindle.' She had never heard the phrase before, but she understood it immediately - this was the root of the Kosmic Blues."

From "A Bad Woman Feeling Good: Blues and the Women Who Sing Them" by Buzzy Jackson (W.W. Norton & Co., New York, 2005). Page 231.