Janis Joplin and Martin Luther
Listening to Janis Joplin the other day, I was struck by two things. First, my eleven year old son (who had never, to my knowledge, heard Joplin) commented as he heard the first bars of `Me and Bobby McGee' that he didn't know I had a Joplin album. To recognise the voice like that at 11 must make him a blues-rock prodigy.Second, I suddenly realised why I liked her (and, remember, she did win `The Ugliest Man of the Year' contest at her High School). It's the Lutheran lyrics of Bobby McGee: `Freedom's just another word for nothin' left to lose.' Surely this captures the Lutheran notion of the freedom we have in Christ. OK, she may not have seen it (or Kristofferson who, I think, wrote the lyric); but I'm sure Luther would have approved and downed a good German beer in her honour. Only when we realise we have nothing to lose because we are in Christ can we truly give ourselves in service to others. That's why Lutheran (and Protestant) ethics are really so demanding.
And, dare I say it, she too had a voice which could have done justice to the pain and the deperate hopes of the psalter.