♫ Me & Bobby McGee ♫

Me_and_Bobby_McGee_-_Janis_JoplinA few nights ago I played a song, Summertime, and the version I played was by Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong — two of my favourites.  A couple of readers noted that Janis Joplin had also covered the song, and they liked her version.  I listened, but still prefer the Ella/Louis one.  However, while Janis Joplin was not among my favourites growing up, but she had a few songs that I really liked and that have stuck with me through the years.  Me & Bobby McGee is at the top of that list.  Coincidentally, our friend John Howell mentioned this one in a comment yesterday, and thus it seemed to be kismet that I play this here tonight!

Written by Kris Kristofferson and songwriter Fred Foster, it was originally sung by Roger Miller.  Often misinterpreted as a love song for Janis Joplin, the real inspiration behind Kris Kristofferson’s ‘Me and Bobby McGee’ was his producer and co-writer Fred Foster and a young secretary named Barbara McKee. Joplin’s version was released after her death from a heroin overdose in 1970.  The song has been recorded by many since, including Waylon Jennings, Grateful Dead, Kristofferson himself, Kenny Rogers and The First Edition, Gordon Lightfoot, and Miranda Lambert.  But in my mind, none do it justice so well as Janis Joplin.

Me and Bobby McGee
Janis Joplin

Busted flat in Baton Rouge, waitin’ for a train
And I’s feelin’ near as faded as my jeans
Bobby thumbed a diesel down, just before it rained
It rode us all the way to New Orleans

I pulled my harpoon out of my dirty red bandanna
I was playin’ soft while Bobby sang the blues, yeah
Windshield wipers slappin’ time, I was holdin’ Bobby’s hand in mine
We sang every song that driver knew

Freedom’s just another word for nothin’ left to lose
Nothin’, don’t mean nothin’ hon’ if it ain’t free, no no
And, feelin’ good was easy, Lord, when he sang the blues
You know, feelin’ good was good enough for me
Good enough for me and my Bobby McGee

From the Kentucky coal mine to the California sun
There Bobby shared the secrets of my soul
Through all kinds of weather, through everything we done
Yeah, Bobby baby kept me from the cold

One day up near Salinas, Lord, I let him slip away
He’s lookin’ for that home, and I hope he finds it
But, I’d trade all of my tomorrows, for a single yesterday
To be holdin’ Bobby’s body next to mine

Freedom’s just another word for nothin’ left to lose
Nothin’, that’s all that Bobby left me, yeah
But, feelin’ good was easy, Lord, when he sang the blues
Hey, feelin’ good was good enough for me, mm-hmm
Good enough for me and my Bobby McGee

La da da
La da da da
La da da da da da da da
La da da da da da da da
Bobby McGee, yeah

La da da da da da da
La da da da da da da
La da da da da da da
Bobby McGee, yeah

La da La la da da la da da la da da
La da da da da da da da da
Hey, my Bobby
Oh, my Bobby McGee, yeah

La la la la la la la la
La la la la la la la la la la la la la la la
Hey, my Bobby
Oh, my Bobby McGee, yeah

Well, I call him my lover, call him my man
I said, I call him my lover did the best I can, c’mon
Hey now, Bobby now
Hey now, Bobby McGee, yeah

Woo
La da, la da, la da, la da, la da, la da, la da, la la
Hey, hey, hey Bobby McGee, yeah
La da, la da, la da, la da, la da, la da, la da, la
Hey, hey, hey, Bobby McGee, yeah

Songwriters: Fred L Foster / Kris Kristofferson
Me and Bobby McGee lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

38 thoughts on “♫ Me & Bobby McGee ♫

  1. Janis made the quintessential recording of the song, with a reflective nuance that fits the lyrics and the era. I’ve listened to many versions but none touch me like her version. Maybe, again, it’s because it came out when I was fourteen, and there was a girl who sat behind me in science class, and this was one of the songs we talked about when she ventured to ask me if I wanted to come over to her house to listen to music. Hugs and cheers

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    • I have to agree with you on this one … this song BELONGS to Janis Joplin and while others may cover it, it will never be theirs. And did you? Go over to her house and listen to music, that is? 😉 Hugs ‘n cheers, dear friend!

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  2. Janis….my home girl. Such a brilliantly tragic short life story. I love her rendition; but as a young Kristofferson number one and diehard fan I do love his version of his song. It has a personal aspect to it. Speaking of Kris, his Jodi and the Kid and Darby’s Castle are true ballads.

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  3. This is a song that I have used dozens of times over the years for listening comprehension and discussion in my English classes for adults here in Germany. But I most often used the Kris Kristofferson studio recording, as it was easier for learners to understand.

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    • Until a few years ago, the Joplin version was the only one I had heard, and I didn’t know Kristofferson had written the song! That’s why I love doing these music posts … I learn so much about songs I’ve loved for decades!

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    • Really??? I thought this one played well all across Europe! It is a song filled with sadness and passion … I’m glad you liked it. Ah … I haven’t yet visited John’s Sunday tour yet, but I shall do so in just a few minutes! Thanks, Michael! xx

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  4. Janis was a talent that left us too soon. Few sang like her. She was influenced by folks like Nina Simone, Aretha, Bessie Smith and others who could belt out a tune. In the traveling Broadway show of her life, the actress (and dead ringer for Joplin) noted her mother would also clean house to show tunes on the turntable, so Janis would sing loudly as she cleaned. Kristofferson wrote a great song here that she made her own. Keith

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    • Indeed she did! While never a big fan of her music apart from a select few songs, I definitely admired her voice, her passion. She had good influences among those you named. Who is the actress you mention???

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      • Jill, here is an excerpt:
        Who is the actress in a night with Janis Joplin?
        MARY BRIDGET DAVIES(Janis Joplin) is an American singer and actress who performs with her own band, Mary Bridget Davies, and is also an interpreter of Janis Joplin’s music. She received a Tony Award nomination for Best Lead Actress in a Musical for her performance as Janis for the Broadway production of A Night With Janis Joplin.
        Keith

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  5. With you all the way on this. The best version, by miles. It wasn’t a hit here but the album, Pearl, was and this got a lot of airplay. You can feel the pain in her voice.

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  6. Aw, Thanks for the mention, Jill. I have always liked Janis from her early days. Her Pearl album is the best of her work for sure. Me and Bobby McGee was also a special song between me and someone who I let slip away up near Salinas.

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  7. Pingback: Me And Bobby Mcgee. | Ramblings of an Occupy Liberal

  8. The best and greatest studio version of this song ever recorded, but then, I love Janis, there is no one like her, as per previous comments on your music blog. The song started out as Country&Western, but it found its home in Rock, driving Rock. Thanks for bringing Janis back to the masses. Maybe someone is discovering, or rediscovering, Janis right now, thanks to you. Her music can never die.

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    • ‘Twas my pleasure to play this one … my favourite of all Janis’ songs. But thank John … he’s the one who planted the thought in my head! And you, of course.

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