Janis Ian is back in the news thanks to her provocative memoir "Society's Child" (Tarcher/Penguin, $26.95).
Ian, 57, recounts her life as a teenage prodigy and lets readers get a glimpse of how she came up with her hit songs ("At Seventeen," "Society's Child"), the sexual abuse she suffered as a child and her friendship with Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin.
Currently on tour to promote her new compilation album "Best of Janis Ian: The Autobiography Collection," Ian says that getting to travel the world is one of the perks of her job. When she first visited Japan, the list of sites she wanted to visit there made it into all the local newspapers. Here, she talks about why it's never good to discount a place just because you've been there before. Each visit can make for a new destination.
A MEMORABLE VACATION: Our trip to the Great Barrier Reef was so beautiful. Honestly, I didn't even know I wanted to go there at first. My partner (Pat Snyder) had always wanted to go to Australia and I was kind of like, "Eh." I'd been there for work before and always had a wonderful time in Australia, but I didn't think it would be that big of a deal. But it was. It was simply amazing. It was like being in a Jacques Cousteau film. All the colors were so vibrant and it just felt right to be there. I'm very grateful that I got to experience such a beautiful part of the world.
SOUVENIRS: I don't buy things for myself, but I bring back stuff for Pat. It's more fun to buy for her than for myself. I think that's why people like giving gifts. It makes you feel good to make someone else happy.
THINGS TO DO: I always liked the idea of living in Jurassic Park! Maybe just for a few days.
PACKING FOR TRIPS: I'm a one-bag traveler when I vacation. I hate carrying stuff. If it can't fit into that one bag, it doesn't come with me.
FAN RECOGNITION OVERSEAS: I am actually more recognized in other countries now than in the United States. But my fans have always been very respectful of me. I have friends in most of the countries where I tour, so I don't feel so much like a tourist when I go places now. I've traveled a lot and really enjoy seeing different places. Hanging out with people, it always shocks me, in a good way, how much the same we really are. We have the same basic needs and desires.
BEST THING ABOUT TRAVELING THE WORLD: One of the greatest highs about traveling is just seeing how other people live. It helps me as a songwriter as well. When I write a song, I thinking, "OK, I'm writing for people in Japan and Europe and the U.S. ... all over the place. So I try to write so that the songs have universal images. It's not like I will try to change a song to make it more relatable to other people, but it's something that does go through my head.
NEXT DESTINATION: I've been moving around so much that I really want to just stay at home for a bit (in Tennessee) before I pack my bags again.
THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT AUSTRALIA:
TIME ZONE: If it's 12 p.m. Monday in Chicago, it's 3 a.m. Tuesday in Canberra.
FACTOIDS: CNN considers the Great Barrier Reef to be one of the seven wonders of the natural world. It's larger than the Great Wall of China and is said to be the only living thing visible from space. The Great Barrier Reef is located off the coast of Queensland in northeast Australia.
To read more about Australia's Great Barrier Reef, visit www.great-barrier-reef.com. Learn more about Australia at www.australia.com. To get the latest news on Janis Ian and her tour, go to www.janisian.com.
(Jae-Ha Kim is a New York Times bestselling author and travel writer. You can respond to this column by visiting her Website at www.jaehakim.com. She welcomes your questions and comments.)Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun