Mercedes Benz (song)

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"Mercedes Benz"
Single by Janis Joplin
from the album Pearl
Recorded October 1, 1970
Writer(s) Janis Joplin
Michael McClure
Bob Neuwirth

"Mercedes Benz" is an a cappella song written by singer Janis Joplin with the poets Michael McClure and Bob Neuwirth, and originally recorded by Joplin.[1] In the song, the singer asks the Lord to buy her a Mercedes-Benz, a color TV, and a "night on the town". According to Bobby Womack, Joplin was inspired to come up with the lyrics after going for a ride with him in his Mercedes-Benz.[2] It was recorded in one take[3] on October 1, 1970, along with a couple of rowdy verses of "Happy Birthday" sung for John Lennon. These were the last tracks Joplin ever recorded; she died three days later, on October 4. The song appeared on the album Pearl, released in 1971.

The song title, as listed on that album, contains no hyphen although the actual automobile brand name is hyphenated. In the lyrics of the song is a reference to Dialing for Dollars, a franchised format local television program, which required one to be watching the show in order to win. The song is considered a hippy-era rejection of consumerism.[1]

In 2003, Joplin's recording was remixed, adding a beat and a background melody. The remixed version was included on collections of Joplin's greatest hits.

A Porsche 356 driven by Janis Joplin, customized with psychedelic art

Cover versions[edit]

  • 1971Elton John covered the song briefly on his American tour
  • early 1970sDave Clark & Friends recorded a version of this song, which remained unreleased until 2010
  • 1972 – the song was covered by the Goose Creek Symphony, becoming their best-known recording
  • 1976 – the song was covered by the British folk group Swan Arcade
  • 1980 – German singer-songwriter Klaus Lage recorded a version in German language
  • 1990 – American blues artist Taj Mahal covered the song on the album Blue Light Boogie
  • 1992 – French-Canadian pop star Mitsou recorded a dance-pop version of the song on her EP Heading West
  • 1994Bob Rivers released a parody titled "Honda Accord"
  • 1994 – a cover version was made by a Dutch pop/dance band T-Spoon
  • 1996 – a live cover version was included on the Concrete Blonde compilation Recollection: The Best of Concrete Blonde.
  • 1997 – a cover version was made by the Italian pop/dance singer Spagna, and included as a ghost track on her album Indivisibili
  • 1998 – former Guns N' Roses rhythm guitarist Gilby Clarke included a version of the song on his album Rubber
  • 1999 – the EP Humppaorgiat by the Finnish comedy group Eläkeläiset featured a cover titled KELA, the lyrics requesting for a moped, a submachinegun, a blow-up doll, a stocked medicine cabinet and for "many things truly awesome" from the Social Insurance Institution.
  • 1999 – the Japanese adult video star Miki Sawaguchi included a cover version of the song on her album Big Boobs/Watashi no Mune de Onemurinasai. Her version is also a capella, and sung in thickly-accented English
  • 1999 – the Portuguese Star Mafalda Cruz Gomes covered the song in the portuguese version of "the Idols"
  • 2000 – a re-make by Hubert von Goisern on his album 'Fön' (2000)
  • 2001 – the key line was interpolated into the opera Jeppe: The Cruel Comedy
  • 2006Pink covered the song on her I'm Not Dead Tour
  • 2009 – a cover version was made by Kendel Carson and released on her album Alright Dynamite
  • 2010 – the song was covered by Jon Boden as part of his A Folk Song A Day project.
  • 2010 – a cover version by Jackyl on the When Moonshine and Dynamite Collide album
  • 2011 – a cover version by Chimène Badi on the Gospel & Soul album
  • 2011 – hip-hop artist G-Eazy samples the song in "Mercedes Benz (The American Dream)"
  • 2012 – the song was covered and translated into Ukrainian by singer-songwriter Yuriy Veres for the album 60/70
  • 2012 – Singer Masha covered the song on her popular YouTube channel on September 22, 2012 [4]

In popular culture[edit]

The song has been used several times in car advertisements. Mercedes-Benz used it in television commercials for their cars as early as 1995. The song appeared in additional advertisements in 2007 and again in an advertisement which aired on February 6, 2011 during a Super Bowl commercial. Another commercial, for the BMW Z3, had the driver listening to a cassette tape of the song, frowning after Mercedes-Benz was mentioned, and throwing the tape out of the car after the Porsche is mentioned.

The pianist Glenn Gould used the song prominently in the third and final radio documentary he made for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation in 1977. The documentary, titled The Quiet In The Land, is part of what is often referred to as Gould's Solitude Trilogy.

The song was used in the opening of the German movie Der Baader Meinhof Komplex and the film Bangkok Hilton.

In 2011, on the initiative of the British music and lifestyle magazine BLAG, singer and songwriter Estelle, rapper and producer David Banner and the musician Daley composed the new song "Benz", inspired by Joplin's "Mercedes Benz".[5][6][7]

References[edit]

Notes

  1. ^ a b Neal, Chris. "Janis Joplin’s Mercedes Benz". Performing Songwriter. Retrieved March 27, 2013. 
  2. ^ Bobby Womack with Robert Ashton (2006). "Midnight Mover: Autobiography". John Blake Publishing. We rode a couple of blocks while she fixed a tune in her head and then started singing. A line just spilled out. 'Oh Lord, won't you buy me a Mercedes Benz. 'My friends all drive Porsches, I must make amends.'  
  3. ^ Pearl album by Janis Joplin, Superseventies.com
  4. ^ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-IVladJEWZ0
  5. ^ Estelle x David Banner x Daley – Making Of The New "Benz" Song | Behind The Scene Video
  6. ^ Music project by the magazine BLAG – inspired by Janis Joplin: Estelle, David Banner and Daley create a new Mercedes song
  7. ^ Artists Estelle, David Banner and Daley with BLAG Magazine Create "Benz" Inspired by Janis Joplin