Janis Joplin - What Good Can Drinkin' Do

by candy47

Written and performed by Janis Joplin, What Good Can Drinkin' Do reveals the pain and sadness of this talented woman.

This is one of the songs that Janis Joplin wrote herself. It was recorded in 1962 at the apartment of her college classmate, John Riney in Austin, Texas on a home tape recorder. This was also the first time that Janis heard her voice played back, and she loved it! I have been a fan of Janis Joplin since the first time I heard her sing, and What Good Can Drinkin’ Do takes my breath away, I can almost feel her pain and insecurities. It makes the hair on the back of my neck stand on end!
Listen to What Good Can Drinkin’ Do on the video below and you’ll hear for yourself how talented and troubled that woman was.  This song showcases her sultry, smoky, boozy voice, the lyrics speak to her lifelong sadness and inability to fit in. Can you believe that she was only 19 years old when she recorded this song? What Good Can Dinkin’ Do defines Janis Joplin.

Style and Influence

Influenced by rhythm & blues, gospel, folk and Delta blues, Janis listened to the sounds of Bessie Smith, Lead Belly, Big Mama Thornton, Billie Holiday, and more.  She said that listening to those singers is what formed her decision to become a singer. Janis didn’t write too may songs of her own, she sang mostly covers of old blues tunes.  Janis certainly gave each and every song her own style and sang with a deep down passion that has not been matched since.  She wanted to sound like those black ladies of the early 1900′s and I think she accomplished that in a lot of her songs, the most prominently obvious is ‘What Good Can Drinkin’ Do’. Janis is raspy, throaty and singing from way deep down in her heart and gut.

Janis Joplin - What Good Can Drinkin' Do

Recorded 1962

Janis Joplin - The Little Girl

She just wanted to be liked

Born on January 19, 1943 in Port Arthur, Texas to Dorothy and Seth Joplin, Janis never managed to fit in with her family or classmates. Her mother once stated that Janis was unhappy and needed more attention than her brother and sister. They were a church going family and attended the Church of Christ where Janis began singing in the choir.

In her high school years, Janis was overweight, had acne, wasn’t popular with the ‘cool’ kids and wasn’t considered pretty. She was taunted and insulted by her classmates. I guess you could say she was bullied! A misfit and non-conformist, Janis chose to ‘do her own thing’.

Janis - Little Girl Blue - Director's Edition

DVD - BluRay - Amazon video
Janis: Little Girl Blue - Special Director's Edition
$10.49  $9.5


The Box-Set

What Good Can Drinkin’ Do is on this Janis Box Set along with so many other of her well known tunes, some with The Kozmic Blues Band, Big Brother and the Holding Company and Full Tilt Boogie.  I have the CD set but it’s also available in other formats.  The CD set comes with a book giving some background, history and pictures.

If you’re a Janis fan, you’ll want this box set and if you aren’t already a fan you will be after hearing this song.

Available at Amazon in various formats


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Updated: 08/21/2016, candy47
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candy47 on 09/19/2017

It was recorded in her friends apartment on his home tape recorder.

DerdriuMarriner on 09/06/2017

candy47, Do you know anything about the context or venue of the 1962 live performance? It's interesting that with the power channeled into her voice that she also had energy for strings and tambourines.

candy47 on 05/11/2015

You're quite welcome CruiseReady, it was my pleasure!!

CruiseReady on 05/11/2015

That's one her songs I don't remember having heard before, but it is SO Joplin! Thanks for bringing it to my attention.

davestone13 on 10/23/2014

Janis really was tragic, extremely sensitive beneath the tough exterior. Booze and drugs might have been the immediate cause, but in my opinion a heart broken too many times was her killer.

Linda Hahn on 09/11/2014

I never heard this before, but I like it. It's good to hear Janis again.

candy47 on 09/09/2014

I just recently discovered this song, and I too have been a fan for decades!

Mira on 09/08/2014

And welcome to Wizzley!

Mira on 09/08/2014

I've been a Janis Joplin fan since my teenage years but this is the first time I hear this song, so thank you! What a nice surprise!

davestone13 on 08/30/2014

This is the kind of thoughtful reflection on Joplin that doesn't get lost in the sensationalism. Janis had a lot more to her than is often realized.

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