I was late and in a real big hurry to get my BOTB posted on May 1, so I didn't give you any information or background on the song or artists. Today, I'm still pretty late getting this 'Results' post up, but I'm gonna take my time and give you some history.
First, the song itself:
"Me and Bobby McGee
" is a song written by Kris Kristofferson
and Fred Foster
, originally performed by Roger Miller
. Others performed the song later, including the Grateful Dead, Kristofferson himself,
and Janis Joplin
who topped the U.S. singles chart
with the song in 1971 after her death, making the song the second posthumous number-one single in U.S. chart history after "(Sittin' On) The Dock of the Bay
" by Otis Redding
ranked Joplin's version as the No. 11 song for 1971.
In the original version of the song, Bobby is a woman. Joplin, who
was allegedly a lover (but also a good friend and mentor) of
Kristofferson's from the beginning of her career to her death, changed
the sex and a few of the lyrics in her cover. Kristofferson stated he
did not write this song for her, but the song is associated with her,
especially in the line "Somewhere near Salinas
, Lord, I let her slip away."
In a conversation with director Monte Hellman
called "Somewhere Near Salinas" (available in the supplements to the Criterion Collection
DVD release of Two-Lane Blacktop
, a film in which Kristofferson's version is used on the soundtrack), Kristofferson stated that the film La Strada
was an inspiration for the song and remarked on the irony of how a song inspired by a classic road movie
should come to be used in another.
The title came from [producer and Monument Records founder] Fred
Foster. He called one night and said, "I've got a song title for you.
It's 'Me and Bobby McKee'." I thought he said "McGee". Bobby McKee was
the secretary of Boudleaux Bryant, who was in the same building with
Fred. Then Fred says, "The hook is that Bobby McKee is a she. How does
that grab you?" (Laughs) I said, "Uh, I'll try to write it, but I've
never written a song on assignment." So it took me a while to think
about. - Kris Kristofferson
The original song is essentially a road story about two drifters, the
narrator and his girlfriend Bobby McGee (boyfriend in Joplin's
version). He speaks about thumbing a diesel truck and singing with the
driver all the way. The couple travels to California, as they grow more
intimate and help each other through the hardships of life, but by the
final verse, Bobby gets tired of the road life and decides to settle
She parts ways with the narrator who still continues his lifestyle,
though he may never be happy again without her, as he would trade his
life just to be with her again for just one day.
Recordings and notable performances
Roger Miller was the first artist to have a hit with the song, peaking with it at No. 12 on the US country chart in 1969.
version hit No. 13 on the pop chart and No. 1 country in his native
Canada in 1970, and was also a top 10 hit in South Africa in 1971.
Lightfoot sang the song after a detailed tribute to Kris Kristofferson
in a CBC broadcast from the summer 1969 Charlottetown Festival
In a 2008 autobiography, Don Reid
and Harold Reid
of the Statler Brothers
say Kristofferson promised it to them, but when they later inquired
about recording it, they learned Miller had already cut the song. The
Reids say there were no hard feelings, and were happy about Miller's
success with the song. The song was later included on a Statler Brothers
album, and was not released as a single.
Joplin also covered the song for inclusion on her Pearl
album only a few days before her death in October 1970. Kristofferson had sung the song for her, and singer Bob Neuwirth
taught it to her. Kristofferson did not know she had covered it until
after her death. The first time he heard her recording of it was the day
after she died.
Joplin's version topped the charts to become her only number one
single and in 2004, her version of this song was ranked No. 148 on Rolling Stone
's list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time
. She also had heard Bob Weir of The Grateful Dead
accelerated ending and liked it so much she added her much more
energetic "rap" to the end of the song. The Dead regularly covered the
song between 1971 and 1974.
Kristofferson performed the song live at the Isle of Wight Festival 1970
and a CD and DVD of the event were issued 30 years later as Message to Love: The Isle of Wight Festival 1970
The Joplin version was used prominently in the epilogue of Rainer Werner Fassbinder
's epic film of Berlin Alexanderplatz
I knew Kristofferson (Sorry Kris, I been misspelling yer name.) is credited with writing the song (I admit, I never head of Fred Foster. Hope he got the royalties.) But I had no idea how it came to be (an assignment, that's exciting, NOT) or that Roger Miller was the first to record it. I knew it was on the concert play list of the Grateful Dead, and even heard them preform it live at Red rocks Amphitheatre in Colorado. Janis's version is probably the most 'famous', but I didn't know until this BOTB that it was her only number one hit.
'Me & Bobby McGee' has been covered by numerous artists. I had an old boyfriend who was partial to Jerry Jeff Walker and I've listened to his recording of it many, Many, MANY times. I'm not sure where or when I first heard the cover by Waylon, but I do know that when I heard it, I was reminded of Kristoffersons recording; only a whole lot better. (I always kinda liked ole Kris, but he really didn't do the songs he wrote justice. I think it was STMc who said he was 'boring' and that rang a bell for me. I couldn't quite call Kris monotone, but close. There just was no pizazz ). Anyway, it was at this point that I decided I like the 'country influence' brought to the number by Waylon, better 'an the gut wrenching, bluesy' Janis Joplin version.
Now, before I get onto the final tally and my vote, I want to talk a little bit about each of these artists.
Waylon Arnold Jennings
(pronounced / /
June 15, 1937 – February 13, 2002) was an American singer, songwriter,
musician, and actor. Jennings began playing guitar at 8 and began
performing at 12 on KVOW
radio. His first band was The Texas Longhorns
. Jennings worked as a D.J. on KVOW, KDAV
, and KLLL
. In 1958, Buddy Holly
arranged Jennings's first recording session, of "Jole Blon
" and "When Sin Stops (Love Begins)". Holly hired him to play bass. In Clear Lake, Iowa
, Jennings gave up his seat on the ill-fated flight that crashed and killed Holly, J. P. Richardson
, and others. The day of the flight was later known as The Day the Music Died
. Jennings then worked as a D.J. in Coolidge, Arizona
, and Phoenix
. He formed a rockabilly
club band, The Waylors
. He recorded for independent label Trend Records and A&M Records
, before succeeding with RCA Victor
after achieving creative control.
During the 1970s, Jennings joined the Outlaw movement
. He released critically acclaimed albums Lonesome, On'ry and Mean
and Honky Tonk Heroes
, followed by hit albums Dreaming My Dreams
and Are You Ready for the Country
. In 1976 he released the album Wanted! The Outlaws
with Willie Nelson
, Tompall Glaser
, and Jessi Colter
, the first platinum country music album. That success was followed by Ol' Waylon
, and the hit song "Luckenbach, Texas
". By the early 1980s, Jennings was struggling with a cocaine
addiction, which he quit in 1984. Later he joined the country supergroup The Highwaymen
with Nelson, Kris Kristofferson
, and Johnny Cash
. During that period, Jennings released the successful album Will the Wolf Survive
He toured less after 1997, to spend more time with his family. Between
1999 and 2001, his appearances were limited by health problems. On
February 13, 2002, Jennings died from complications of diabetes
Jennings also appeared in movies and television series. He was the balladeer
for The Dukes of Hazzard
; composing and singing the show's theme song
. In 2001 he was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame
, which he chose not to attend. In 2007 he was posthumously awarded the Cliffie Stone Pioneer Award by the Academy of Country Music
Y'all know that came straight outta 'Wacky Watchee' and there is a whole lot more there. So if you have a few minutes goon over and check it out. BUT, just in cast you skimmed that article take note of two things. Ole Waylon was on that ill fated tour with Buddy Holly. It's said he felt guilty for not being on that plane and dying with his buddies and yet he was being the 'good guy' giving up his seat on the plane. ALSO, note that in 1976 he released along with a few other notables, the FIRST PLATINUM COUNTRY MUSIC ALBUM. No small feat, I'll guess.
Janis Lyn Joplin
; January 19, 1943 – October 4, 1970) was an American singer-songwriter
who first rose to fame in the late 1960s as the lead singer of the psychedelic acid-rock
band Big Brother and the Holding Company
, and later as a solo artist with her own backing groups, The Kozmic Blues Band
and The Full Tilt Boogie Band
. Her first ever large scale public performance was at the Monterey Pop Festival
; this led her to becoming very popular and one of the major attractions at the Woodstock
festival and the Festival Express
train tour. Joplin charted five singles; other popular songs include: "Down on Me
"; "Piece of My Heart
"; "Ball 'n' Chain
"; "To Love Somebody
"; "Kozmic Blues
"; "Work Me, Lord
"; "Cry Baby
"; "Mercedes Benz
"; and her only number one hit, "Me and Bobby McGee
Joplin was well known for her performing ability and was a multi
instrumentalist. Her fans referred to her stage presence as "electric";
at the height of her career, she was known as "The Queen of Psychedelic
Soul". Known as "Pearl" among her friends, she was also a painter,
dancer and music arranger. Rolling Stone
ranked Joplin number 46 on its list of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time in 2004,
and number 28 on its 2008 list of 100 Greatest Singers of All Time. She was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
Janis Joplin was born in Port Arthur, Texas
, on January 19, 1943,
to Dorothy Bonita East (February 15, 1913 – December 13, 1998), a registrar
at a business college, and her husband, Seth Ward Joplin (April 19, 1910 – May 10, 1987), an engineer at Texaco
. She had two younger siblings, Michael and Laura. The family attended the Church of Christ
The Joplins felt that Janis always needed more attention than their
other children, with her mother stating, "She was unhappy and
unsatisfied without [receiving a lot of attention]. The normal rapport
As a teenager, she befriended a group of outcasts, one of whom had albums by blues
artists Bessie Smith
, Ma Rainey
and Lead Belly
, whom Joplin later credited with influencing her decision to become a singer.
She began singing in the local choir
and expanded her listening to blues singers such as Odetta
, Billie Holiday
and Big Mama Thornton
Primarily a painter while still in school, she first began singing blues and folk music
with friends. While at Thomas Jefferson High School
, she stated that she was mostly shunned.
Joplin was quoted as saying, "I was a misfit. I read, I painted, I didn't hate niggers
As a teen, she became overweight and her skin broke out so badly she was left with deep scars which required dermabrasion
Other kids at high school would routinely taunt her and call her names like "pig", "freak", "nigger lover" or "creep".
Among her classmates were G. W. Bailey
and Jimmy Johnson
. Joplin graduated from high school in 1960 and attended Lamar State College of Technology
in Beaumont, Texas
, during the summer
and later the University of Texas at Austin
, though she did not complete her studies.
The campus newspaper The Daily Texan
ran a profile of her in the issue dated July 27, 1962, headlined "She Dares to Be Different".
The article began, "She goes barefooted when she feels like it, wears
Levis to class because they're more comfortable, and carries her Autoharp
with her everywhere she goes so that in case she gets the urge to break into song, it will be handy. Her name is Janis Joplin."
Among her last public appearances were two broadcasts of The Dick Cavett Show
In a June 25, 1970 appearance, she announced that she would attend her
ten-year high-school class reunion. When asked if she had been popular
in school, she admitted that when in high school, her schoolmates
"laughed me out of class, out of town and out of the state."
(Joplin had been voted "Ugliest Man on Campus" by frat boys during her university years.
) In a subsequent Cavett broadcast on August 3, 1970, Joplin discussed her upcoming performance at the Festival for Peace
to be held at Shea Stadium
, New York, three days later.
On August 7, 1970, a tombstone - paid for by both Joplin and Juanita Green, who as a child had done housework for Bessie Smith
—was erected at Smith's previously-unmarked grave.
Joplin's last public performance, with the Full Tilt Boogie Band, took place on August 12, 1970, at the Harvard Stadium
in Boston. The Harvard Crimson
gave the performance a positive, front-page review, despite the fact
that Full Tilt Boogie had performed with makeshift sound amplifiers
after their regular equipment was stolen in Boston.
Joplin attended her high-school reunion on August 14, accompanied by fellow musician and friend Bob Neuwirth
, road manager John Cooke, and her sister Laura, but it was reportedly an unhappy experience for her.
Joplin held a press conference in Port Arthur during her reunion visit. Rolling Stone
journalist Chet Flippo reported that she wore enough jewelry for a "Babylonian whore".
When asked by a reporter if she ever entertained at Thomas Jefferson High School
when she was a student there, Joplin replied, "Only when I walked down the aisles."
Joplin denigrated Port Arthur and the classmates who had humiliated her a decade earlier.
There are pages and pages about Janis at 'Wacky Watchee', I chose to excerpt only the part about her early life. In Today's world we hear a lot about bullying and the affect it is having on the young people of the world. When I read these things I thought, perhaps Janis' outlandish behavior was a direct result of how she had been treated. You know the old self-deprecating trick of making yourself into the caricature everyone else is trying to before they have the opportunity. I dunno, just a thought. At any rate, after delving into her past somewhat, I came away with a different picture of a tortured woman who found a way to 'get back' at the world. Again, I encourage you to take the time to read it ALL for yourself and make your own decision about Janis Joplin.
For quite a few votes things were 'neck 'n neck' in this BATTLE and that really surprised me. I know a lot of you don't like country. Janis had the edge of familiarity on her side. And with the A to Z in full swing, my voting numbers were a bit down. At the very end things took a decided turn and the final tally, including my vote (I don't have to spell it out for you who I voted for, do I?) is:
Waylon Jennings 11 votes (including my vote)
Janis Joplin 8 votes
An interesting BATTLE from my perspective. I learned some things, particularly about Janis. I don't think I shall ever look at her extreme behavior in the same way again.
This has been a grueling week for me. Two blog posts back to back (YIKES! I do not know how some of you blog every day, or more than once a week, for that matter.) I'll be back on the 15th with another BATTLE 'The Good Lord willin' and the creek don't rise.' Until that time...Happy Trails to you!