Song: “From Me To You”
Artist: Janis Ian
Album: Between The Lines (1975)
Janis Ian’s cozy, folk-pop specialty, an audible comfort delivered with the spinning of any LP from the ’70s singer-songwriter’s poignant collection, wasn’t recognized in a mainstream way until the release of her seventh album, Between the Lines. And today, she’s still considered fairly obscure.
The 11-track compilation, bristled with Ian’s lonely and lovelorn mutterings, occasionally tries to let some light in–but prioritizes the bitter vent of emotions through misty-eyed ballads (“Bright Lights and Promises”, “Water Colors”) and delicate, sympathetic verses penned for the perennial misfit (“At Seventeen”)–making for a soft-rock supply of heartbreak decorated in flowered, acoustic musings.
Ian’s vocal quality–and general sound–falls in a rare category of the 70s singer-songwriter batch; something more subdued than the throaty, soul-powered Carly Simons and Carole Kings of the era, and realer, more rustic than the radio-favored Olivia Newton-Johns and Karen Carpenters; sort of a later-generation Joni Mitchell, without as strong a hippie presence.
“From Me To You” nestles its tough-love, spirited melody between two otherwise sulky tracks; it’s an empowering moment of resilience between Ian’s lonely, adolescent flashbacks and fawning love-weakness. In the song, self-recuperation occurs from shrugging off an unreciprocated love (“I would not beg for me, as I would not beg for you/ Though I’d like to be the one to see you through”), her advisory against settling and chasing anyone/thing an ardent one. Taking a sagacious tone about people and the potentially flaky ones, Ian warns: “Those people who surround you, only want to see you weak enough to crawl/ They’ll lie for you, decide for you…and they’ll try to stop your singing in the middle of your song…”. The sunnily acoustic track worships progression and disdains self-doubt–while capturing Ian in an unusually sanguine state of mind.