Bobby never did slip away completely

Janis Joplin, let’s face it, owns “Me and Bobby McGee”; a few folks know that Kris Kristofferson wrote it, and a small fraction thereof know that Fred Foster, perhaps better known as the producer of all Roy Orbison’s hits for Monument Records, cowrote it; hardly anyone knows that Roger Miller (!) cut it first. I suspect the reason for this has something to do with the fact that the story of Bobby, who vanished somewhere around Salinas, wasn’t particularly funny, and Miller, even then, was still doing stuff like “My Uncle Used to Love Me But She Died.”

There would be other versions before Janis cut hers, by the likes of Gordon Lightfoot, Ramblin’ Jack Elliott, and Sam the Sham. (Sam’s track, the B-side to the flop single “Key to the Highway,” is punctuated with tasty Duane Allman-esque slide-guitar licks; it’s reported by some that Allman himself played them.)

Still, you can’t touch Janis on the subject of Bobby McGee. And I have a feeling that the feeling is mutual:

It would be nice if we had more of this footage, shot in Canada on the road with, among others, the Grateful Dead. But then, it would be nice if we’d had more of Janis, period.

3 comments

  1. Mark Alger »

    30 August 2018 · 4:33 pm

    Also: Gordon Lightfoot recorded it. It’s on the same album as “If You Could Read My Mind.”

    M

  2. CGHill »

    30 August 2018 · 5:28 pm

    Yep. And few were Lightfoot’s equal in describing the life of the wanderer.

  3. Roger O Green »

    31 August 2018 · 10:12 am

    Things I had forgotten:

    1. Someone gave me a bootleg version of that Festival. I’ve never watched it in its entirety.

    2. I HAVE a Roger Miller version of Me and Bobby McGee

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