I was determined to see Amy Berg‘s Janis: Little Girl Blue, her American Masters doc about the great Janis Joplin a day or two ago, mainly because I wanted to hear that great legendary voice booming out of large theatre speakers. And I did that. Sat in a full house in a big, 45-degree-angle arena theatre, and we all sank in and went back to Joplinland. I can listen to her any old time with earphones, but this was almost a concert-like experience, I didn’t care if a certain portion of the footage is accessible on YouTube (such as the below clip from Joplin’s break-out performance at the 1967 Monterey Pop Festival), and I wouldn’t have minded if Berg had served up a middling, good-enough portrait. But it’s better than that. And sadder than I expected. It reminded me that her run with Big Brother and the Holding Company was the most exuberant period of her life and career, and that the successful, big-time portion of that alliance lasted only from the Monterey Pop Festival to the very end of ’68 — 18 months. Then came her association with the Kozmic Blues Band (’68 and ’69) and the Full Tilt Boogie Band (’70) — a period not devoid of hits or highs but generally spotty. (Rock critic Ralph J. Gleason wrote that the Kozmic guys were a “drag” and that Joplin should “go right back to being a member of Big Brother.”) And then on 10.4.70 she was gone, dead in a Hollywood hotel room, a victim of too-strong heroin. Heavy drugs were so pervasive back then, so dominant and destructive. But the ’60s needed them as much drugs needed the ’60s, and everybody rode the train until it all turned banal with quaaludes and cocaine in the ’70s and early ’80s. And now it’s all back to alcohol, if that. Among your devil-may-care nocturnal types, I mean.