You Better Not Compromise Yourself. It’s All You Got

Janis Joplin? Apocryphal?

Dear Quote Investigator: Janis Joplin was an American rock star of the late 1960s and early 1970s who tragically died when she was only 27. Her vocalizations and emotional delivery were distinctive. Apparently she said:

Don’t compromise yourself. You’re all you’ve got.

Would you please help me to find a citation?

Quote Investigator: The earliest evidence located by QI appeared in the Sunday newspaper supplement “Parade” magazine which published a short profile of Janis Joplin in April 1969: 1

Last year, Janis earned over $50,000. Her album, Cheap Thrills, was a big hit. Now, with a new band, a comfortable apartment in San Francisco and a multicolored Porsche, Janis is big-time and rising.

Her message: “You better not compromise yourself. It’s all you got.”

The quotation above differed slightly from the popular modern version. The text was not part of an interview; hence, it was possible that the journalist Derek Norcross lifted the quotation from some earlier article that QI has not yet seen.

Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading You Better Not Compromise Yourself. It’s All You Got


  1. 1969 April 6, The Orlando Sentinel, Section: Parade (Sunday Supplement), Article: Youth Notes: The Little Girl Can Sing, Author: Derek Norcross, Quote Page 15, Column 3, Orlando, Florida. (Newspapers_com)