Society's Child

Album: Janis Ian (1966)
Charted: 14
  • Come to my door, baby,
    Face is clean and shining black as night.
    My mother went to answer you know
    That you looked so fine.
    Now I could understand your tears and your shame,
    She called you "boy" instead of your name.
    When she wouldn't let you inside,
    When she turned and said,
    "But honey, he's not our kind."

    She says, I can't see you any more, baby,
    Can't see you anymore.

    Walk me down to school, baby,
    Everybody's acting deaf and blind.
    Until they turn and say, "Why don't you stick to your own kind?"
    My teachers all laugh, their smirking stares,
    Cutting deep down in our affairs.
    Preachers of equality,
    Think they believe it, then why won't they just let us be?

    They say I can't see you anymore baby,
    Can't see you anymore.

    One of these days I'm gonna stop my listening
    Gonna raise my head up high.
    One of these days I'm gonna raise up my glistening wings and fly.
    But that day will have to wait for a while.
    Baby I'm only society's child.
    When we're older things may change,
    But for now this is the way they must remain.
    I say I can't see you anymore baby,
    Can't see you anymore.
    No, I don't want to see you anymore, baby.

Comments: 20

  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn July 16th 1967, sixteen year old Janis Ian performed at the famed Newport Folk Festival in Newport, Rhode Island...
    At the time her "Society's Child (Baby I've Been Thinking)" was in its second of two weeks at #14 on Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart and that was also its peak position on the chart...
    {See next post below}.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn April 26th 1967, Janis Ian performed "Society's Child" on the CBS News TV documentary 'Inside Pop: The Rock Revolution'...
    A little less than a month later on May 21st, 1967 "Society's Child" would enter Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart at position #81; seven weeks later on July 9th, 1967 it would peak at #14 {for 2 weeks} and spent 12 weeks on the Top 100...
    The song was released in September 1966 but only after her appearance on the TV documentary did it gain popularity and enter the national Billboard chart...
    She had two more records make the Top 100 chart; "At Seventeen" {#3 in 1975} and "Under the Covers" {#71 in 1981}...
    Ms. Ian, born Janis Eddy Fink, celebrated her 64th birthday earlier this month on April 7th {2015}.
  • Martin from Fresno, CaI like the organ sound at the end too.A song that stays with you forever.
  • Esskayess from Dallas, TxTed, if you're going to hide behind the race card, at least have your facts straight (and the bug out of your ear). I, too, don't give a rip what color a man or woman is. Too bad that far too many of those who claim to be Dr. King's followers are the first ones to scream about the color of one's skin instead of the content of their character.
  • Esskayess from Dallas, TxDon't kid yourself, Ted. The vast majority opposing his attempted takeover of medicine don't give a **** what color he is. He could be black, white, yellow, red or green with purple polka-dots and it would make no difference. As MLK said, the CONTENT OF HIS CHARACTER and not the color of his skin.

    Little progress will be made in racial relations until both sides stop brandishing the race card every time the hit an obstacle and learn how to be colorblind. Stop assuming the worst in people.
  • Chris from Independence, MoTed, the guy that showed up with a rifle that was shown on CNN and other moronic media, was a black man, NOT a white man.
  • Ted from Phoenix, AzThis is a very powerful song lyrically speaking and one of my favorites. As we now live in a time where we have the first African-american U.S. President and some whites who oppose him on his health care reform proposals showing up at his speeches brandishing guns, I'm afraid that not much has changed vis-a-vis the attitudes between the races. Thank you, Janis, for telling it like it really was and is. And you were only 13 at the time! Wow!
  • Guy from Woodinville, WaThe fact that she ends up going along with society'e racism despite her open mind speaks volumes!! She is--as each of us are--society's child.
  • Valerie from Eureka, CaThis is one of the most powerful songs ever written. It shows a very typical attitude that somehow is hanging in the shadows today. I lived 3 miserable years in Florida when I was a the mid to late 50's. I was told not to talk to black people because it's not nice...hmmm, I wonder if the people who told me that are racists?
  • Reed from New Ulm, MnI like the two seperate tempos, one for the verses and the other slower one for the chorus------makes it all that much more thought provoking and interesting to listen to.
    Great song.
  • Jeff from Long Island, NyArtie Butler was responsible for the very nice harpsichord and organ work, including the famous organ coda (the producer, Shadow Morton, asked him to come up with something catchy for the end, and he made it up on the spot). He used a slightly extended version five years later as the coda to "Indian Reservation" by The Raiders.
  • Cooper from Dc, MdActually she was on NPR and said she wrote in after on public bus she saw two people one black and one white holding hands and kissing an everyone was starring at them in disgust - even herself at first. She started to think about it and went home and wrote the song.
  • Alan from Venice, CaI was 12yo. When Society's Child hit the air and on the beach in the Venice/L.A. area, where I was from, It was #1 and to this day still is with me. - Alan, Honolulu, Hawai'i
  • Denise from Upland, CaThis song is unbeliveable for a 13 year old to write this and put it down the way she did. This is my most favorite Janis Ian song, and I wish the ending would have been different like she said but in those times it just wouldn't have flyed. I truly love it!
    Denise, California
  • Donna from Banning, CaThis is absolutely one of the best songs ever recorded in our times. Banned from many LA stations, I still love everything about it. It should be re-released for the masses. =^^=
  • Ekristheh from Halath, United StatesIf you want to know what Janis is doing today and how she feels about music downloading, go to and read "The Internet Debacle".
  • Howard from St. Louis Park, MnA number of radio stations banned the song due to its racial content.
  • Stefanie Magura from Rock Hill, ScI've never heard the song, but I just read the lurics and for a 13-year-old that's some deep stuff. It was an especially controversial issue in the 60's.
  • Stefanie Magura from Rock Hill, ScShe wrote that when she was a teenager? Wow!!!
  • Rick from San Juan, United StatesThe organ ending in "Society's Child" was very peculiar and innovative, perhaps the final statement for its highly controversial theme.
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