The True Story Behind Janis Joplin’s ‘Me and Bobby McGee’ listen to Janis Joplin singing the song, and as a sweet lolipop, as you know how much I like lyrics: you got them too

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The True Story Behind Janis Joplin’s ‘Me and Bobby McGee’
by Jeff Giles October 25, 2016 10:01 AM

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Forty-five years after Janis Joplin posthumously took the song to No. 1, the producer who hired Kris Kristofferson to write “Me and Bobby McGee” has been inducted to the Country Music Hall of Fame — and the former Music Row secretary who inspired the song was in the audience to see it happen.

Newswire reports that producer Fred Foster has confirmed the story behind the song, which started when Foster’s friend, songwriter Boudleaux Bryant, teased him that he only visited Bryant’s offices to see his secretary, Barbara “Bobby” McKee. Inspired by the wisecrack, Foster approached Kristofferson, then a young songwriter on his roster. As Performing Songwriter detailed in a 2008 article, Foster pitched the idea for a song he titled “Me and Bobby McKee” — with the twist in the hook, of course, being that the “Bobby” in question was female.

Although he had doubts he’d be able to put together a song on assignment, Kristofferson delivered, adding a few touches of his own (including softening “McKee” to “McGee”), and the rest was history.

Originally released by Roger Miller in 1969, “Me and Bobby McGee” proved a popular cover choice for a number of artists — including Joplin, who cut a version for her Pearl LP shortly before her death in late 1970. Foster admitted to Performing Songwriter that he had doubts as to whether Joplin would be able to sing anything outside the rock genre, but he said her version proved him wrong; in fact, after her death, “I couldn’t listen to the song without really breaking up.”

An array of country luminaries were on hand to witness Foster’s Country Music Hall of Fame induction on Oct. 17 — including Kristofferson, who performed their signature song in front of a crowd that numbered Barbara McKee Eden among them. Foster was welcomed into the Hall by singer Vince Gill, who offered a tribute to the beloved producer and label founder with a combination of humor and respect.

“I think he liked the way I sing because I sing like a girl, and he was fond of girl singers,” Gill told the audience. “Fred Foster is a man who has been a champion of great artists all these years. He champions great songwriters, champions great singers and great musicians.”

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Me and Bobby McGee lyrics:

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

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