The reunion, although fruitful in that it provided a much needed perspective, didn't fare well: her classmates were less happy to see her as she was, focusing instead on the circus-like appeal of a rock-star strutting like a peacock with its feathers full spread. They awarded her with a tongue-in-cheek award, a rubber tire, for the sheer amount of distance she'd traveled. Janis accepted the award, but inside the disappointment must have been soul-wrenching. Couldn't they have been complimentary for once?
You can't go home anymore, not if you've far outgrown its perimeters spiritually and mentally. Janis went on to record in Los Angeles for her new album titled Pearl, and become engaged. Once and for all it seemed she had gotten her literal shit together, as the old Janis was now DOA and gone forever.
But that lonely ache, that unending need to be understood, and more than anything loved, must have burned inside of Janis. The reunion, insecurities about her career, and hints of trouble with her fiance, perhaps created an unstable mix. On October 4, 1970, she missed a recording session to lay down vocals for the ironically titled song Buried Alive in the Blues. Tour manager John Cooke went to the Landmark Motel only to find her lying face down between the nightstand and the bed. Alcohol and heroin were the culprits, but sadly things had been made worse by a dealer who had sold her untested heroin, a batch which turned out to be lethal to a small group of others in the Los Angeles area that weekend.
No one will ever know what compelled Janis to succumb to her addiction when everything seemed to be going so right. Depression wasn't directly obvious to those around her, indeed many felt she had stepped into a prime apex of her vocal talents, her fame, and the proverbial ability to get her shit together as a grown ass woman in this world.
The heart is a lonely hunter. It swims deep, and sometimes when confronted with loneliness even a star as brilliant and tenacious as Janis Joplin fails to survive. But her legend has carried on, despite her physical absence.
Did the reunion contribute to her death? It's impossible to judge as we've all had to make that decision before: going home and facing that old part of ourselves that is vulnerable and like a child. What we do know is the legacy of her talent is astounding, and that is all that should count in this world.
I wish you a wonderful day. Thank you for reading!