Society's Child (Baby I've Been Thinking)

Janis Ian
Language: English

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This is the song that put Janis Ian on the map. She composed it at age fifeteen, about observation she had made within her neighborhood. The original title was "Baby I've been Thinking". After the song had been turned down by twenty-two record companies, Verve/Folkaways rekeased it. Most radio stations found it too hot to handle, with its message about interracial romance. It took Leonard Bernstein's featuring Janis and the song on his show Inside Pop: A Rock Revolution for the song to take off and make its way up the Billboard charts. She remembers being a teenager and receiving numerous threats, "a lot of bomb threats, a lot of envelopes with razor blades. It was scary. I didn't understand people wanting to hurt me". It was years before she felt comfortable performing in the South.

(Jeff Place, liner notes from Classic Protest Songs from Smithsonian Folkways)
Come to my door, baby,
Face is clean and shining black as night.
My mother went to answer you know
That you looked so fine.
Now I could understand your tears and your shame,
She called you "boy" instead of your name.
When she wouldn't let you inside,
When she turned and said,
"But honey, he's not our kind."

She says, I can't see you any more, baby,
Can't see you anymore.

Walk me down to school, baby,
Everybody's acting deaf and blind.
Until they turn and say, "Why don't you stick to your own kind?"
My teachers all laugh, their smirking stares,
Cutting deep down in our affairs.
Preachers of equality,
Think they believe it, then why won't they just let us be?

They say I can't see you anymore baby,
Can't see you anymore.

One of these days I'm gonna stop my listening
Gonna raise my head up high.
One of these days I'm gonna raise up my glistening wings and fly.
But that day will have to wait for a while.
Baby I'm only society's child.
When we're older things may change,
But for now this is the way they must remain.

I say I can't see you anymore baby,
Can't see you anymore.
No, I don't want to see you anymore, baby.

Contributed by Riccardo Venturi - 2005/3/28 - 22:43

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