One-hit wonders have been around forever. Sometimes they take the form of novelty songs (Rick Dees' monster 70s hit "Disco Duck") or a novelty act ("Sugar, Sugar" by The Archies).

More often than not, however, it's an act that actually recorded numerous songs, only one of which reached the top 10 of the Billboard pop singles chart. Think Toni Basil's "Mickey" or "Come on, Eileen" by Dexys Midnight Runners.

But, perhaps the more difficult feat is to hit the charts twice, several years apart. That's just what folk singer-songwriter Janis Ian did with 1967's "Society's Child (Baby I've Been Thinking", which reached No. 14, and then her 1975 classic "At Seventeen," which made it all the way to No. 3.

Ian, who comes to the Bull Run in Shirley on Sunday, Nov. 11, kept writing and recording, even though she's never charted again. I talked to Ian recently about her career, what keeps her going these days, and what fans who come to the show next weekend should expect.

She compares herself to perhaps Arlo Guthrie, a contemporary singer-songwriter. "We both like to sing songs and tell stories, but I'm funnier than he is," the 61-year-old Ian said with a laugh.

This is Ian's first trip to the Bull Run, to the best of her knowledge, but she's familiar with the legendary local venue. "Everybody gave it a good review, which is always promising," Ian said.


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Ian is a constant presence on the road and had been a regular recording artist as well, although about eight years ago, she decided to stop putting out new albums every two years.

Expect to hear a combination of old songs and new songs, with perhaps a few yet-to-be-recorded songs sprinkled in. "I've started to write toward a new album, so you'll probably hear some of those, but you'll hear 'At Seventeen' and 'Society's Child,' too. I don't believe in ripping people off by not playing stuff," Ian said.

She enjoys telling stories during her shows and considering she's recently worked with Bette Midler, expect some of those tales to work their way into the Bull Run concert.

If you are a fan of hers, or you go to the show and like what you hear, feel free to stick around after the show for an impromptu meet-and-greet with her. "You don't need to buy something to get it signed, either," Ian added.

Janis Ian performs at The Bull Run Restaurant in Shirley on Sunday, Nov. 11, at 7 p.m. Tickets are $30 and can be purchased at www.bullrunrestaurant.com.

Ed Hannan can be reached at edhannan@gmail.com or through his For the Record blog at blogs.lowellsun.com/fortherecord.