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god & the fbi
god & the fbi

2000

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The Basics: Released March 21st,2000; features "Memphis" (a duet with Willie Nelson) and a solo by Chet Atkins.

Personnel: Musicians: Philip Clark, Jim Cregan, Janis Ian, Marc Moreau, Chet Atkins, Steve Gadd, Willie Weeks, Matt Rollings, David Liker. Vocalists: Philip Clark, Jim Cregan, Janis Ian, Marc Moreau, Willie Nelson, John Cowan.

Inside Scoop: Working title: In Dog Years I'm Dead. Janis realized that if album sales didn't pick up, this would be her last recording for a major label. "Nobody gets a fourth career, and I've gone through three." Since she had nothing to lose, she felt that "if I'm going down, I'm going down in flames." So she decided to act as though this were her last album, and stop worrying about what people would think. The first decision was to record the entire album in a house rather than a studio "so we could experiment without watching the clock". They lived there through the recording process. "The goal was to create a bunker mentality - us and them - we almost made it. Not quite, but almost." The second decision was to have the core group play everything. "What we couldn't play, we created". When Janis wanted a tuba part on "Boots Like Emmy Lou's", no one was willing to learn the instrument - so it's actually co-producer Jim Cregan singing a tuba part, which is then electronically dropped an octave lower. When she wanted a full choir for the Requiem at the end of "On the Other Side", everyone learned the parts in Latin and sang in various octaves, doubling and tripling until the effect was achieved. And when she wanted electric guitar solos, she was forced to take them herself! The only song to have outside musicians is "Memphis", which features the same band used on Revenge plus Marc and Philip. It's also, by the way, a duet with Willie Nelson, and features a guitar solo by the great Chet Atkins. "I lucked in and met Chet when I first came to Nashville; he's been a staunch friend ever since. And Willie… well, I didn't think he'd do it, not in a million years. I figured he wouldn't have heard of me. But he told me he loved the song, and he loved my work, so I jumped at the chance. He was everything I'd hoped he'd be; outside of Swami Satchitananda (her neighbor in New York during the '60's), Willie's the most there person I've ever met. A real gentleman, and an honest-to-goodness legend." The album's title is taken from the song "god & the fbi", about Janis' early life with her parents and the FBI's effect on her. "My dad was a chicken farmer who made the mistake of going to a meeting about the price of eggs; they picked him up for questioning the next day. We were on the watch list from then on. It took me nine years to get our FBI files. Mine was disappointingly thin - I'd hoped I was more of a threat than that! But it's scary to look at that period in our country's history, and discover that you were being watched by informers through binoculars while you played at summer camp. I hope that whole organization is more like The X-files portrays it than our experiences with them." Asked if she'll get into trouble for referring to "J. Edgar Hoover in a pink tutu, investigating anyone who thinks like you", she laughs and says "Trouble seems to find me, but it never gets a good grip."

Lyrics

god & the fbi

Janis Ian

Mama's making mimeos. Pete's on the stereo
singing 'bout freedom, bugs in the bedroom
Big investigation - danger to the nation
Search and seizure, better buy a lawyer
"We know you're a member
"Saw you under cover
"Are you hiding evidence?"
None of this makes any sense

They called the FBI
I had to disappear
Called the G-men, T-men, See-You-At-The-Scene men
Told 'em I was hiding here
They could fingerprint my heart
I knew it from the start
Ain't no place for a face to hide
from God and the FBI

Commies, Pinkos, reds at the windows
Foreign agitators running elevators
J. Edgar Hoover in a pink tutu
investigating anyone who thinks like you
Welcome to the fifties
You look a little shifty

They called the FBI
I had to disappear
Called the G-men, T-men, See-You-At-The-Scene men
Told 'em I was hiding here
They could fingerprint my heart
I knew it from the start
Ain't no hole for a soul to hide
From God and the FBI

Stay flat, don't rat, What's a proletariat?
Stalin was a democrat - Washington is where it's at
Every politician is a sewer of ambition
Hide me, hide you - better hide the baby too
"We demand an interview
"How long have you been a Jew?
"We can make you testify
"Freedom is no alibi"

They called the FBI
I had to disappear
Called the G-men, T-men, See-You-At-The-Scene men
Told 'em I was hiding here
They could fingerprint my heart
I knew it from the start
Ain't no place for a face to hide
From God and the FBI

© Rude Girl Pub. All rights reserved; international copyright secured.

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On The Other Side

Janis Ian

They say there was a fire on the night I died
All I am is gone
Still the soul goes on
They tell me I'm a hero on the other side
Oh, but all that I remember
is the children were in danger

on the other side
Children laugh and sing
On the other side
angels earn their wings
On the other side

They say that you were with me
when the building fell
Strange to have you near
after all these years
They say I couldn't possibly
have done it by myself
Did you see our photograph
as it crumbled into ash?

On the other side
children laugh and sing
On the other side
angels earn their wings
on the other side

And I, who never could believe
Never saw the need
Wanted just to see your face again
With nothing to hold on to
Now I've found you...

On the other side
Children laugh and sing
on the other side
The angels earn their wings
On the other side

Requiem:
Vocatus atque non vocatus, deus aderit (seen and unseen, God is)
Sursum, Domini, sursum Domini (lift us Lord)
Ora pro nobis, in ora pro nobis pacem, (let there be peace on earth)
Kyrie (Lord)
in ora Kyrie eleison (on earth, Lord, peace)
Kyrie (Lord)

© Rude Girl Pub. All rights reserved; international copyright secured.

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Memphis

Janis Ian/Deana Carter

We were standing by the river,
staring into town
All the world was on his shoulders
The tears were raining down
All along the Southern skyline,
city lights began to bloom
He said -- if you only knew her
the way that I do, sir,
you would be crying too

If you could see Memphis the way that I do,
she would look different to you
Queen of the Delta, tip your tiara
Memphis, the belle of the blues

The streets were filled with cotton
and music filled the air
All the paddle boats came rolling
from east of everywhere
Now the streets are filled with silence
and songs no one can hear,
but her memory lingers
It slips through my fingers,
and into this river of tears

If you could see Memphis the way that I do,
she would look different to you
Queen of the Delta, tip your tiara
Memphis, the belle of the blues

So roll on -- roll on
My sweet magnolia, roll on
How the memory lingers
It slips through my fingers
and into this river of tears

If you could see Memphis the way that I do,
she would look different to you
Queen of the Delta, tip your tiara
Memphis, the belle of the blues
Memphis, the belle of the blues

© Rude Girl Pub. (50%)/EMI April Music Inc.
All rights reserved; international copyright secured.

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Jolene

Janis Ian/Jess Leary

Jimmy sits in his room 'til darkness
Then he steps on the street
and she watches and waits at the window,
aondering who he'll meet
It's a wasteland of TV dinners
It's a highway in heat
and there's nothing but time on the table
clocking the same old beat
Jolene steps out like the life of the party
High class heels and polka dot sleeves
Wears her hair like a girl in a hurry
Walking and talking and rocking
to the beat of the street

There's a crowd at the park on the corner
Jimmy rushes to see
On the ground is a lady in labor
Jimmy forgets how to breath
And it's coming too fast for a doctor
and the traffic's obscene
and the people are panicked and shouting
"somebody do something"
Jolene steps in like the life of the party
Kicks her heels off, rolls up her sleeves
Parts that crowd like a girl in a hurry
Walking and talking and rocking
to the beat of the street

And she's smiling, crying
Doctoring as neat as you please
People are laughing, clapping
She gets up off her knees,
rolling down her sleeves
Holding up the kid so everybody can see

Jimmy offers his arm in the silence
and the night comes alive
and he drowns in her smile as the sirens
finally arrive
There are forms to be filled say the medics
as they canvas the crowd
It was dangerous, foolish and reckless
This kind of thing shouldn't be allowed
Jolene struts off like the life of the party
High class heels and polka dot sleeves
Arm in arm. That's the end of the story
They're walking and talking
and they're rocking to the beat of the street

© Rude Girl Pub. All rights reserved; international copyright secured.

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When You Love Someone

Janis Ian

When you love someone – it's an arrow in the heart
When you love someone – it's a shot in the dark
When you love someone – it's a needle in the vein
When you love someone – it's a moth to the flame
When you love someone – it's love that makes a hero

When you love someone – it's a prayer for the damned
When you love someone – it's another helping hand
When you love someone – it's a crack inside the wall
When you love someone – and you don't have far to fall
When you love someone – it'll make a fool believe
When you love someone

When you love someone
We will come down from the mountains
When you love someone
We will rise up from the valleys, yeah
When you love someone
We will come from every corner
When you love someone
We will make this whole world over
Just you wait and see

When you love someone – it's love that makes you brave
When you love someone – from the cradle to the grave
When you love someone – there's a song in every word
When you love someone – you are more than you deserve
When you love someone – there is magic in your hands
When you love someone – and there is peace upon the land

When you love someone
We will come down from the mountains
When you love someone
We will rise up from the valleys, yeah
When you love someone
We will come from every corner
When you love someone
We will make this whole world over
Just you wait and see

When you love someone – it's a shadow at high noon
When you love someone – it's a river on the moon
When you love someone – it's an ocean in a pond
When you love someone – it's the starlight at dawn
When you love someone – it's a never ending heat
When you love someone

When you love someone – it's an arrow in the heart
When you love someone – it's like a shot in the dark
When you love someone – from the cradle to the gave
When you love someone – from the master to the slave
When you love someone – it'll make you a hero
When you love someone

When you love someone – it's a prayer for the damned
When you love someone – it is another helping hand
When you love someone – it's a crack in the wall
When you love someone – and you don't have far to fall
When you love someone – there is magic in your hands
When you love someone – there is peace upon the land
There is peace upon the land
There is peace upon the land
There is peace upon the land

© Rude Girl Pub. All rights reserved; international copyright secured.

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Play Like A Girl

Janis Ian

I remember when boys told me --
You play like a girl
It's a matter of genetic history
You play like a girl
You can't be in our band
You don't play like a man
but there's one thing you can do
Teach us to play like you

Now all over this big wide world,
I play like a girl
From the California lights to the Serengetti nights
I play like a girl

When I was ten years old, I was told --
You can't play baseball
You've got to pitch underhand
You can't throw it like a man
It won't be any fun at all
Girls don't know how to have fun
Girls don't last in the long run
Girls give birth and stuff but
They're not really tough enough

Now all over this big wide world
I play like a girl
From the California lights to the Serengetti nights
I play like a girl

Don't want to be Elvis
Mickey Mantle or Babe
This isn't a contest
I just want to make some music
Have a good time while I do it

I don't need permission
to change this tradition
When they tell me "you can't play"
I just turn my back and say

Now all over this big wide world
I play like a girl
From the California lights to the Serengetti nights
I play like a girl
I play like a girl
I play like a girl

© Rude Girl Pub. All rights reserved; international copyright secured.

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Days Like These

Janis Ian

On days like these
when the rain won't fall
and the sky is so dry
that even birds can't call
I can feel your tears
disappearing in the air
Carried on the breeze
on days like these

It's years like these
that make a young man old
Bend his back against the promises
that life should hold
They can make him wise
They can drive him to his knees
Nothing comes for free
on days like these

But you can't reap what you don't sow
and you can't plant in fallow ground
so let us fill this empty earth with hope
until the rains come down

In lives like these
where every moment counts
I add up all the things
that i can live without
When the one thing left
is the blessing of my dreams
I can make my peace
with days like these

I can make my peace
with days like these

© Taosongs Two. All rights reserved; international copyright secured.

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Boots Like Emmy Lou's

Janis Ian

If I had boots like Emmy Lou's, I'd be a country star
Rhinestones on my BVD's, and a Hummingbird guitar
I'd buy myself the biggest bus that ever graced the track
with a loveseat for the two of us, and a swimming pool in back

If I had boots like Emmy Lou's
I'd wear my hair like Loretta used to do
I'd sing like Patsy Cline
and Kitty Wells combined
if I had boots like Emmy Lou's
I'd never need a shine

If I had boots like Emmy Lou's, I'd be so very rich
I'd hire a dog to scratch me every time I got an itch
I'd buy a thousand Cadallics, with longhorns on the front
Drive one 'til the ashtray filled, then haul it to the dump

CHORUS

I'd buy my clothes from Nudie
Have fingernails like Tammy
Tease my hair like Dolly
and measure ten feet tall
I'd teach those boots to talk
They'd lecture in New Yawk
If I had boots like Emmy Lou's,
I'd never need to walk

If I had boots like Emmy Lou's, I'd die without a care
Fly straight up to heaven's gate and shove my way in there
And when Saint Peter asked me What I'd done to be so bold
I'd point down to my boots and say - "They're recently re-soled"

So fit me for a robe. Wings and halo too
But I cannot stay if you take away my boots like Emmy Lou's
No I cannot stay if you take away my boots like Emmy Lou's

If I had boots like Emmy Lou's
I'd wear my hair like Loretta used to do
I'd sing like Patsy Cline
and Kitty Wells combined
if I had boots like Emmy Lou's
I'd never need a shine

© Rude Girl Pub. All rights reserved; international copyright secured.

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She Must Be Beautiful

Janis Ian/Kye Fleming

The seagulls of summer have flown
The sailors have wintered their boats
Come sit by the fire
and tell me your secrets
Love isn't kept easily

The windows are shuttered and closed
Blankets to keep out the cold
but you are still restless
Your heart is enchanted,
drifting away from me

And is she beautiful?
She must be pretty, or worse,
to ride the high seas
She must be beautiful
White linen sails that have
captured your vagrant breeze
Singing her siren song
Luring you far from the harbor,
and into the gales
She must be beautiful,
so beautiful,
to have stolen the wind from my sails

Casting your dreams out to sea
Will you remember me?
As years go by,
slipped away with the tide --
It was I who set you free

And is she beautiful?
She must be pretty, or worse,
to ride the high seas
She must be beautiful
White linen sails that have
captured your vagrant breeze
Singing her siren song
Luring you far from the harbor,
and into the gales
She must be beautiful,
so beautiful,
... so beautiful
To have stolen the wind from my sails

© Taosongs Two (50%)/Irving Music/Eaglewood Music.
All rights reserved; international copyright secured.

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The Last Comeback

Philip Clark/Janis Ian

Roll out the red carpet, let me in
Here I am knocking down the door again
Broken dreams - broken lives
In the end, only hope survives
Only hope survives

These are the songs nobody wanted
This is the voice that no one heard
This is the show that no one came to
The lights are down - the stage is black
I'm ready now for the last comeback

I fear the anger and the greed
Shallow as the heart I let you see
Frightened by the hunger and the shame
Selling out a soul for a well-known name
Just a well known name

These are the nights no one remembers
These are the stages time forgets
These are the shows that no one came to
The lights are down - the stage is black
I'm ready for the last comeback

It's what I want
It's what I need
It's only make believe

What'cha gonna do when time runs out?
Nobody remembers your name now
It's in the heart - it's in the eyes
but you know the fire never dies
The fire never dies

These are the songs nobody wanted
This is the voice that no one heard
This is the show that no one came to
The lights are down - the stage is black
I'm ready for the last comeback
The lights are down - the stage is black
I'm ready for the last comeback

© Rude Girl Pub. (50%)/Oh Me Oh My Songs.
All rights reserved; international copyright secured.

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Murdering Stravinsky

Philip Clark/Janis Ian

We're murdering Stravinsky
Shooting at Ravel
Burying Picasso, slaughtering Caetano
at the gates of hell
We're bringing down the Beatles
Dylan and his pals
We're working very hard to be the avante-garde
Murdering Stravinsky

We're bathing in the ashes
Dancing in the coals
Dressing up as fascists
and bankrupting our souls
Beauty is ugly
and ugliness is king
Pretty is useless
Drop dead fruitless
Murdering Stravinsky

We're burning down the bible
Tearing down the cross
Drinking holy water, spitting in the gutter
Watch your sons and daughters
You'll be put upon the guillotine
under blood blue skies
We're killing off the past to make the future fast
Murdering Stravinsky

We're bathing in the ashes
Dancing in the coals
Dressing up as fascists
and bankrupting our souls
Beauty is ugly
and ugliness is king
Pretty is useless
Drop dead fruitless
Murdering Stravinsky

All gone
All gone
All gone

And when the feast is over
We'll dine upon each other
You can be my sweetheart now
You can be my sweetheart now
You can be my sweetheart now

© Rude Girl Pub. (50%)/Oh Me Oh My Songs.
All rights reserved; international copyright secured.

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Tour Dates

click on any date for full information
click again to close that date

All tour dates updated on September 12, 2017

  • Saturday, April 28th, 2018

    The Birchmere, Alexandria, VA,

    The Birchmere

    Alexandria, VA,

    Phone: 703-549-7500

    Visit the venue's website

    Janis returns to the legendary venue with a show full of new songs and new ideas - one appearance only! See venue closer to the date for more information.

[full tour dates list]

In The Store
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Remember: Live 1977 Australia & Japan CD

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Best Of Janis Ian:
The Autobiography Collection
CD

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Society's Child: My Autobiography Paperback now available

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A PBS Special

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Society's Child Signed 1st Ed. Hardback Book

Society's Child: My Autobiography
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Folk Is The New Black CD

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