BootLeg Betty

Janis Ian Talks About Her Song, “Some People’s Lives”

You have said that Some People’s Lives is the best song you’ve ever been involved with.

It’s a faultless song. It is now hopefully on its way to becoming somewhat of a standard. We wrote it in ’86 and pitched it to everyone in the music biz and nobody would touch it. We had some really nice reactions and as a songwriter it’s so rare that you get reactions like that. I remember Anita Baker actually called MCA to thank us and to say that it was one of the best songs she’d ever heard but it didn’t work for her album. And I thought “what a class act.” People never do that. Nobody cut it until Michael Johnson in 1988. I did an NAS show in L.A. and Bette Midler was there. I found out later that she requested a video of it, and learned it, and we didn’t find out she was intending to cut it until the middle of 90. So it was over four years until Bette cut it.

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