Janis Ian.

In high school I had the album Between the Lines. I don't think I knew much about the record or Janis Ian before I chose it as one of the pile of free records you used to get for joining the Columbia record club in the 70s. I pretty much wore it out. It's such a cliche now that it makes me smile a little queasily, but I really would listen to At Seventeen and cry and think, "that's me, that's my life." Way before I knew I was homosexual. (This is also around the time of the beginning of my Judy Garland obsession.)

In our first year performing together in New York, Y'all played in the gay pride day rally in Union Square. We played 3 or 4 songs in front of thousands of people -- it was a huge thrill, one of the highlights of our career. Janis Ian was the headliner of that show. We met her backstage, and she said something funny about J's dress, I can't remember what it was now. I remember being thrilled and honored to be there performing on the same stage with her.

When J and I lived in Nashville in the late 90s, Janis lived there with her partner and had a thriving career as a country songwriter (belying Nashville's hyper-conservative image). They lived in an old house with some kind of neon sign, like a vintage beer sign or something, in the window. I'm pretty sure she still lives and works there.

The clip I think is from the Smothers Brothers show.