Society's Child

Society's Child (Janis Ian)

  • 18 Aug 13:25
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"Society's Child (Baby I've Been Thinking)" was a song written in 1965 by Janis Ian. It centered around the then-taboo subject of interracial romance. Ian was 13 years old when she was motivated to write the song and completed it when she was 14.

The lyrics of the song center around the feelings of a young girl who witnesses the humiliation that her African American boyfriend receives from the girl's mother and the taunts that she herself endures from classmates and teachers. It closes with her decision to end her relationship with the boyfriend because of her inability to deal with the social pressure.

In 1964, Ian lived in East Orange, New Jersey. Her neighborhood was predominantly populated by African-Americans and she was one of very few whites in her school. "I saw it from both ends. I was seeing it from the end of all the civil rights stuff on the television and radio, of white parents being incensed when their daughters would date black men, and I saw it around me when black parents were worried about their sons or daughters dating white girls or boys. I don't think I knew where I was going when I started it, but when I hit the second line, 'face is clean and shining black...

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