Saturday, June 23, 2012

Story Songs: Me and Bobby McGee

"Me and Bobby McGee" is one of the few songs that truly captures the carefree spirit of the 1960s. Written by the great Kris Kristofferson and Fred Foster, it tells the story of two lovers as they move from one place to another, sharing songs and simply being free.

In Kristofferson's original lyrics, Bobby McGee is a woman. In Janis Joplin's hit version, Bobby McGee is a man. That certainly makes sense, at least in the time frame in which the song was written.

The song opens with the pair hitching a ride from Baton Rouge to New Orleans, setting the tone and mood for the story.

"Took my harpoon out of my dirty red bandana
And was blowin' sad while Bobby sang the blues,
With them windshield wipers slappin' time and
Bobby clappin' hands we finally sang up every song
That driver knew."

After traveling from "the coalmines of Kentucky to the California sun," they finally part ways in Salinas, and the storyteller yearns to be with her again.

"She was lookin' for the home I hope she'll find,
Well I'd trade all my tomorrows for a single yesterday,
Holdin' Bobby's body close to mine."

The song closes with words about their simple relationship, a comfort zone that many of us feel with special people in our lives.

"Feelin' good was easy, Lord, when Bobby sang the blues,
And buddy, that was good enough for me.
Good enough for me and Bobby McGee."

Roger Miller first recorded the song in 1969, topping at No. 12 on the country charts. But it was the legendary Janis Joplin's heartfelt version that brought worldwide audience and acclaim to "Me and Bobby McGee" in 1971, taking it to No. 1, several months after her untimely death It was her only chart-topping song.

"Me and Bobby McGee" lyrics

I'm including Joplin and Kristofferson videos of the song:


  1. This was one of the first songs I learned to play on my acoustic guitar. I love it to this day (both my guitar and the song.)

    1. A great song to learn, Socorro. Watching Kristofferson play, it doesn't look very difficult.

    2. I'll have to see how it sounds on my strat now

  2. Always loved both renditions of this song. Thanks for posting the videos, Mike. :)

    1. I agree, Devon. I always like to hear how the composer approaches his/her song and how the singer interprets it.