Poster from the Fillmore circa 1966
On Sunday we were invited to the Geary Theatre in downtown San Francisco to see A Night With Janis Joplin. Had it been any other play we probably would have said no. You see, over a million people were expected to descend on downtown San Francisco on that same day for one of the largest Pride Parades in the world. If you’ve ever been to downtown SF you know it’s a densely populated area, particularly down Market Street (the parade route). An extra million people during the middle of the day would definitely impact our ability to get to the theater, even on mass transit. But Janis Joplin is San Francisco. And so we went.
We arose from the bowels of the Powell Street station into the heart of the parade which we were unable to see but heard. It was so disorienting to be in the churn of revelers that I had to pause and check the iPhone to get our bearings. But finally we shuffled through the glitter, the rainbow balloons and the confetti and made to our destination.
The “play” got off to a raucous start with the actress playing Joplin belting out Piece of My Heart with such ferocity that I began to wonder how the poor gal was going to make it through the next 90 minutes without doing irreparable damage her throat. But luckily the playwright had a plan. “Joplin” pauses every now and then to tell her audience about her life and each of the jazz and blues legends who inspired her, then summons their ghosts to take over the stage while she rests her vocal chords. Later she returns to demonstrate how she took their songs and interpreted them for the rock genre. One of the songs was Summertime from Porgy and Bess.
Here’s Joplin’s interpretation:
Another was Odetta’s Down on Me, an old Spiritual or Freedom Song:
For this song, Joplin actually changed the lyrics, deleting the Bible references.
Our friends were split as to which versions they preferred but I loved them all. Books can inspire movies, plays and even other books but in the end they always belong to the writer, whereas a song always belongs to the heart of a singer.
Do you have favorite interpretations of songs that veer wildly from first renditions? If so, I’d love to hear about them. It’s kind of an obsession of mine.
Doors leading to the outdoor sculpture garden.
This week for ThursdayDoors I cheated bigly. I hopped on BART and took a ride to downtown San Francisco, where if you can’t find an interesting door to snap, there’s absolutely no hope for you. However the purpose of my trip was not to take pictures but to see the Matisse/Diebenkorn exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art.
For those who don’t know San Francisco, the MOMA is about three blocks south of Market Street which is about as close to a main drag as you’ll find in the City. Above is the Lotta Crabtree Fountain where every year on April 18th the survivors of the 1906 Earthquake and Fire are honored.
There are a many fine old doors in this area but to get good photos of them you’d have to have a death wish. Traffic is ridiculous. Above is the Hearst building which maintained its original doors although the building has obviously been modernized.
Next to the MOMA are the Yerba Buena gardens “the cultural center of San Francisco.” Many of the gardens and restaurants in this two block complex are actually on the guarded second level and thus free of the homeless population known to panhandle in this area.
The Martin Luther King Memorial on a gray day. I like the solemnity of this memorial more that the rather grandiose one in Washington DC..
Across the street from the gardens is St. Patrick Cathedral originally built in 1851. Although it’s dwarfed by the other buildings and hotels in the South of Market or SOMA area, it remains as they say “an island of calm and tranquility amidst chaos.”
And they do have a lovely door. Hop on over to Norm Frampton’s Thursday Doors event to see other doors from around the world.
Oh – the exhibit was great. If it comes to your town, do try to see it.
Since it’s such a lovely day here in California and the cat has once again taken over my chair, I’ve decided to write out on the patio, listening to the jays and chickadees bicker over the seed which Hubby has left out for them.
This part of the world generally has what I call a “False Spring” sometime in January or February, two or three weeks of spectacular, springlike weather. The blossoms blossom, the daffodils sprout and the camellias show their pretty faces.
Traditionally, and I really hope it happens soon because we are in a severe drought, the cold and rain returns. Because I live close to San Francisco, the cold and fog can last until September. We’re not famous for warm summers.
Speaking of birds, I’m always amazed by people who can get a good photo of one. I must have taken 500 shots of the fellow to the left. This is the best one and you can see it’s a little fuzzy. By the way, can any of you bird bloggers out there tell me what kind of bird he is?