No. 71: Janis Joplin, ‘Piece Of My Heart’ – Top 100 Classic Rock Songs
‘Piece Of My Heart’ was originally written and recorded in 1967, but it wasn’t a mainstream hit until Big Brother And The Holding Company (featuring Joplin) covered it in 1968. Taken from the band’s album ‘Cheap Thrills,’ their version peaked at No. 12 on the U.S. pop chart.
Allegedly, Erma Franklin — Aretha’s older sister — who recorded it first, didn’t even recognize Joplin’s rendition of the song when she originally heard it on the radio. Joplin’s vocal arrangement was very different than the original, with Joplin leaning on her blues conventions to belt out her sorrows.
This little twenty-something white girl from Texas was daring her listeners to “take it, break it and have another piece” of her heart while her San Francisco band electrified a sound that would later get coined “acid rock.” Joplin proved she meant serious business when she followed up the “you know you got it” lyric with one of the most historic “waaaaaahhhh” howls a woman has ever recorded.
Though many artists have covered this number (including Sammy Hagar), ‘Piece Of My Heart’ has become synonymous with Joplin and clearly ranks as one of her most memorable and loved songs.