Get It While You Can

Album: Pearl (1971)
Charted: 78
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Songfacts®:

  • "Get It While You Can" was written by the songwriting team of Jerry Ragovoy and Mort Shuman, and originally recorded by the soul singer Howard Tate. The song was the title track to Tate's debut album, which was produced by Ragovoy. His version made just #134 in the US, and Tate struggled on the chitlin circuit before giving up music in the mid-'70s.

    In 2002, Tate once again teamed up with Ragovoy to record a new album called Rediscovered, on which they included a new version of this song. Speaking with Record Collector about the new version, Tate said, "The words mean much more to me now than they did back then, then they were just the words of a song someone had wrote for me. Now they have all the meaning in the world, I can relate to them. You have to Get It While You Can because you may not get it tomorrow, you may not get another chance."
  • The most popular version of this song was recorded by Janis Joplin and the Full Tilt Boogie Band and included as the last track on her 1971 posthumous album Pearl. So if you listen to her primary studio albums in order of release, this is the last song you hear from her.
  • This song is about not passing up the opportunity for love and comfort, because life's too mean and short. Isn't that just about the cornerstone of Joplin's philosophy? In the book Love, Janis by Janis' sister Laura Joplin, Full Tilt Boogie Band guitarist John Till shares this moment of Janis' free-wheeling spirit: "She'd come boogeying up to me and our faces would come right together like that, and then she'd give me a great big kiss. And I wouldn't remember nothing except big asterisks and f***ing exclamation points over my head... It was an experience, taking a guitar solo in front of forty thousand people and getting this kiss from Janis."

    Also from Love, Janis, a glimpse into her application of the counter-culture philosophy right towards her last year: "In private, she was changing in small but important ways. When someone who latched onto her group was grumbling angrily about the 'pigs' abusing their power, Janis cut him short. 'They're cops, just people doing their job, honey. Don't call them pigs, it just makes it worse.' When she first started touring with Big Brother, if a waitress was rude to them because of their attire and style, they often left without tipping. On the Full Tilt tour, a rude waitress might be left a $100 bill, as a way to change her attitude about hippies."
  • From the same book, a quote from Janis offering a take on her life's work: "My whole purpose is to communicate. What I sing is my own reality. But just the fact that people come up to me and say, 'Hey, that's my reality too,' proves to me that it's not just mine."
  • This song reached its peak position of #78 US in September 1971, nearly a year after Joplin died.

Comments: 2

  • Mike from Not HereHoward motha f--kin' Tate originally recorded this song! One of the most underrated soul singers of all time.
  • Bill from Pensacola, FlOne oh Janis' most popular songs (aren't they all?)
    this song is featured in the Anne Beattie Book and Movie Chilly Scenes Of Winter.
    Charles who is madly in love with Laura asks the radio, "Janis How can I get it if she won't come out of her A Frame! "
    Charles also gives a copy of the album to his boss who had asked him to give him some advice for his son who was having trouble with college and women!
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