Tuesday, March 20, 2012

This day in music - March 20, 1971: Janice Joplin's version of "Me and Bobby McGee" hits #1

By Richard K. Barry

I guess most people know that "Me and Bobby McGee" was written by Kris Kristofferson and Fred Foster. Interesting to note that it was originally performed by Roger Miller. You know, the guy who did "King of the Road," "Dang Me," and "England Swings." I'm a big fan of ol' Roger Miller, but I can't quite imagine him doing this one. Could be great.

Janice Joplin hit No. 1 with the song in 1971 on the U.S. singles chart, after her death, which made the song the second posthumous No. 1 single in U.S. chart history after "Sittin' On the Dock at the Bay" by Otis Redding.

As you can imagine, "Me and Bobby McGee" has been recorded many times. The wiki entry on this has a list of almost 40 performers who have turned their attention to it including Gordon Lightfoot, the Grateful Dead, Jerry Jeff Walker, Joan Baez, Arlo Guthrie, and Johnny Cash. On the weirder side, I see that Olivia Newton-John, Jennifer Love Hewitt, and Anne Murray have also taken a shot. Okay. 

Yeah, Joplin's version is kind of the one for me.

I don't know whether it's worth mentioning, but the song comes in at No. 148 on Rolling Stone's list of the 500 greatest songs of all time, not that there is anything subjective about this kind of ranking. No, it's entirely scientific.

(Cross-posted at Lippmann's Ghost.)

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