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THE INSIDE SCOOP
1980 was amazing. I had my first international hit with “Fly Too High”, courtesy of Giorgio Moroder’s thumping rhythm track and my lyrics. I dueted with Mel Torme on a song I’d written, “Silly Habits”, which brought us a Grammy nomination for “Best Jazz Duet” one year later. Netherlands icon Conny v.d. Bos recorded “Don’t Leave Tonight”, written especially for her, and our duet crossed over in Holland, going platinum with the help of both Dutch and English-language radio stations. In the midst of it all, I toured, and toured, and toured.
I’d been to Japan before and was thrilled to go again; my first single there, “Love Is Blind”, had stayed #1 spot for an amazing 12 months. The follow up, “Will You Dance”, still lingered after 6. At some point, arrangements were made to film me “live at the forum” during the tour there.
I don't remember much about the show, and I don't have a manufacturing quality copy of the Laserdisc release. I don’t even have a copy of the laserdisc, much less anything to play it on. The only release was in Japan, circa 1990; it’s been out of print ever since. So you’re not going to get great quality when you watch this, because it’s a copy of a copy of a copy. Sorry… but what you will get is a look at my shows as they were during the 1980 world tour, when I was trying to ride the fine line between “At Seventeen” and a monster disco hit. There were solo spots where I’d sing “Jesse” to a hushed audience, with a single spotlight shining down from above. There were other moments when I’d go flying across the stage with guitarist Scott Zito, wearing thick pants to hide the knee-pads underneath. Fantastic trips all over Japan, Australia, New Zealand, the UK, Europe, and the United States, with audiences that seemed to grow bigger and friendlier every month.
I don’t recall the actual filming. I know the band were great – even now, listening to Arti Dixson’s “drum solo”, Scott's incredible playing, and John Crowder’s beautiful high-end vocals, I feel privileged to have worked with such talent. In my memory, there are snapshots of myself living the daily life I lived that year – getting a backstage visit to an Australian zoo, attending Noh theater in Japan, a Dutch street vendor who grinned and handed me a flower. But as to the actual shoot? I think we all tried to regard it as “just another show”, so it would stay real, instead of perfect-for-camera.
In retrospect, I’ve come to realize that the hardest thing about having a hit record is how little time you get to enjoy it – you keep working and working, grabbing for the next brass ring, afraid you’re going to lose it all and wind up with nothing. And of course, everyone around you is invested in working you as hard as possible, so it becomes the norm. At that time in my life, I would tour the world for 8 or 9 months, then take the remaining time to write and record an album, do any press or publicity necessary to support that machinery, and try to fit in a few “outside projects” with people like Torme. I did that for more than ten years, over and over again. I’ve never regretted it, because it took me to places and people I’d never dreamed of meeting or seeing. From the vantage point of forty years later, I’m grateful for all of it, and happy to catch a glimpse of the live performer I was then.
SONGS IN ORDER OF APPEARANCE
- Night Rains
- I Would Like to Dance
- Have Mercy, Love
- The Other Side of the Sun
- In the Winter
- Silly Habits
- Lay Low
- At Seventeen
John Crowder (bass guitar, vocals)
Arti Dixson (drums, percussion, vocals)
Scott Zito (guitars, keyboards, vocals)
Janis Ian (guitars, piano, vocals)
2020 DIGITAL EDITION:
Re-mastering and assembly by Jeff Evans
Source material provided by Kathleen Brogan
Cover photograph: Paul Natkin
All songs by Janis Ian © Mine Music Ltd/Sony ATV except Jesse by Janis Ian, © Taosongs (BMI) and The Other Side of the Sun by Albert Hammond & Janis Ian, © Mine Music Ltd/Sony ATV (50%)/Hammond Music (50%). All rights reserved; reproduced with permission. Special thanks to Sony ATV Japan for permission to post this! Janis Ian: Live at the Forum 1980 © ℗ Rude Girl Records, Inc. All rights reserved; reproduced with permission.
For more information, visit https://janisian.com
ORIGINAL 1990 LASERDISC EDITION:
A Wilks and Close Production
Producer: Ilona Herzberg
Executive Producers: R. David Close, Wendell G. Wilks
Director: Barrie McLean
Associate Director: Moira Dexter
Technical Producer: Jim Corston
Post Production Supervisor: Jack McAndrew
Production Manager: Rick Baker
Production Coordinator: Carolyn Bohm
Technical Director: Fred Augerman
Lighting Directors: Tom Swartz, Adrien Goldberg
Cameras: Rick Mason, John Crampton, Robin Periana, Vic Newman, Rick McVicar
Audio: Eric Gordon, Eric Posner, Rod Ellis
Editors: Jim Corston, Norbert von der Heidt
Engineers: Stanley Wan, Andy Chow
Video: Denis Paul
VTR: Steve Robinson
Floor director: Yvonne Taylor
Technical assistants: John Schmidt, John Stewart, Jan maciejowski
Crew Coordinator: Anita Moore
Makeup: The Face Designers
Videotape Supervisor: Stuart Gough
Production Assistant: Allyn Terry
Technical facilities provided by HUCHM Productions