“Me and Bobby McGee” is one of the most iconic country-rock songs. Following the premise, we will know more about the man who brought it to the limelight first. Although the song was co-written by Kris Kristofferson and Fred Foster, and the well-known version was by Janis Joplin, it was Roger Miller who first recorded it. The lyrics speak of someone who reminisces about his old girlfriend, Bobby McGee. They traveled across the country together, and although they had no money, he recollects sad memories of the good times they shared.
“Me and Bobby McGee”, Origin and History
Let us start with the song’s origin, the Kris Kristofferson version. Kris Kristofferson, who has written hundreds of songs for a wide variety of artists, wrote “Me and Bobby McGee”. Just as he was struggling with his career and was about to leave Nashville for his helicopter pilot sideline job, Fred Foster, his label boss, called him. He said that he had a song title for him.
“You could make this thing about them traveling around; the hook is that he turns out to be a she.'”
Kristofferson was not sure at first. He already did try to write the song all the time he was flying around Baton Rouge and New Orleans. But, he hid this project from Fred. Fred used a secretary’s name as his inspiration for the title. He used the name of the character in the song “Bobby,” to make sure a female singer could also sing it without changing the name. The song’s final part came to Kristofferson as he was driving in heavy rain to the airport for his flight home. That was when he wents with the lines,
Windshield wipers slappin’ time, I was holdin’ Bobby’s hand in mine
We sang every song that driver knew.
In 1970, Kris Kristofferson released this on his first album, Kristofferson. Taking advantage of the song’s new popularity by becoming a hit for Janis Joplin, Kristofferson’s album was released again as Me And Bobby McGee a year later.
Roger Miller, First of Many Recordings
“Me and Bobby McGee” was first recorded in 1969 by Roger Miller, who is known for his hit “King Of The Road.” Miller’s earlier success was as a songwriter. Several of his songs became hits for artists such as Ray Price and Ernest Tubb. His hit songs were rather assorted. Some of those were “novelty” songs, often presenting fanciful lyrics, coupled with scat riffs filled with nonsense syllables. However, other songs he wrote were rather poignant ballads. His vocals are likable, and they clearly show off his Oklahoma origins.
In the late 60s, Roger Miller began covering songs from other writers. Thus, in 1969 he was the first to record Kris Kristofferson’s “Me and Bobby McGee”.
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