Friday, May 1, 2009

"Piece of My Heart" times 3

I recently posted a blog about the song "Home Sweet Home" and how Carrie Underwood had covered it. Clarkster said in a comment that if she had "made it 100% country, rather than trying to keep the rock element to it, it would sound better; more her own." That got me thinking of other songs that have been covered and one song came to mind right away. This particular song has since been remade by several singers, including Janis Joplin in 1968, Sammy Hagar in 1981, Jenny Morris in 1990, Faith Hill in 1993, Melissa Etheridge/Joss Stone in 2005, Beverley Knight in 2006, and most recently by Pink on her "Live in Europe: Try This Tour [DVD]" The song is "Piece of my Heart" and I want to zero in on three different versions. The original, Janis Joplin's and Faith Hill's.

Text in blue is from
Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

"Piece of My Heart" is a song written by Jerry Ragovoy and Bert Berns and originally recorded by Erma Franklin in 1967. The song came to greater mainstream attention when Janis Joplin and Big Brother and the Holding Company covered the song in 1968 on their album Cheap Thrills and had a hit with it.

In 2004, the Big Brother and the Holding Company version of this song was ranked #344 on Rolling Stones list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. The song is also included among The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll.

Franklin said in an interview that when she first heard Joplin's version on the radio, she didn't recognize it because of the vocal arrangement.

Noted cultural writer Ellen Willis wrote of the difference: "When Franklin sings it, it is a challenge: no matter what you do to me, I will not let you destroy my ability to be human, to love.
Joplin seems rather to be saying, surely if I keep taking this, if I keep setting an example of love and forgiveness, surely he has to understand, change, give me back what I have given". In such a way, Joplin used blues conventions not to transcend pain, but "to scream it out of existence".

All three are different. Tell me which, if any, you like. :)

Erma Franklin's original recording: 1967

The original version of "Piece of My Heart" was recorded by Aretha Franklin's older sister Erma in 1967. The song was a top ten R&B hit in the U.S., and also peaked at number sixty-two on the U.S. Pop Singles chart. In the UK, the single was re-released in 1992, due to a successful Levi's jeans commercial, when it peaked inside the UK Singles Chart at number nine.

Janis Joplin version: 1968 - The one that is remembered.

The song became a bigger pop hit when recorded by Big Brother and the Holding Company in 1968, with lead singer Janis Joplin. The song was taken from the group's album Cheap Thrills, recorded in 1968 and released on Columbia Records. This rendition made it to number twelve on the U.S. pop chart.

Faith Hill version: 1993 - Her producers had it right (read below). This is definitely pop-country. No rock; no blues.

Country artist Faith Hill included the song on her debut album, Take Me as I Am (1993). Though it met criticism from rock listeners more familiar with Joplin's version, when released as the album's second single, it topped the U.S. Hot Country Singles & Tracks chart in the spring of 1994. During the recording of the song, her producers were shocked to learn that Hill had never heard Joplin's version. Her only exposure to the song was the country arrangement that had been sent in the form of a demo recording by the song's publisher. The producers ordered Hill not to listen to Joplin's version until recording was complete so that it would not influence the new artist's vocal interpretation. After hearing the Joplin version, the influence was immediate as live performances of the song became much more rock-influenced.

Hill has since re-recorded the track for the international pressing of her third album, Faith, released in 1998. This version can also be found on her 2001 international greatest hits album There You'll Be. Her original version was included in her 2007 greatest hits album The Hits.

Faith Hill

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