Me and Bobby McGee

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"Me and Bobby McGee"
Me and Bobby McGee - Roger Miller.jpg
Single by Roger Miller
from the album Roger Miller 1970
ReleasedJuly 1969
RecordedMay 16, 1969
LabelSmash S-2230
Songwriter(s)Kris Kristofferson
Fred Foster
Producer(s)Jerry Kennedy
Roger Miller singles chronology
"Me and Bobby McGee"
"Where Have All the Average People Gone"

"Me and Bobby McGee" is a song written by American singer-songwriter Kris Kristofferson and originally performed by Roger Miller. Fred Foster shares the writing credit, as Kristofferson intended. A posthumously released version by Janis Joplin topped the U.S. singles chart in 1971, making the song the second posthumously released No. 1 single in U.S. chart history after "(Sittin' On) The Dock of the Bay" by Otis Redding. Jerry Lee Lewis also released a version reaching number 1 on the country charts in 1971. Billboard ranked Joplin's version as the No. 11 song for 1971.

Other recordings of the song include those by Waylon Jennings, Grateful Dead, Loretta Lynn, Kristofferson himself,[1] Kenny Rogers and The First Edition, Gordon Lightfoot, Dolly Parton, Miranda Lambert, Olivia Newton-John, Vicki Britton and Johnny Cash.


The suggestion for the title came from producer and Monument Records founder Fred Foster.[1] Kristofferson explained that in the song he was trying to convey the despair of the last scene of Frederico Fellini’s ‘’La Strada’’.[2]


The song is the story of two drifters, the narrator and Bobby McGee. The couple hitch a ride from a truck driver and sing as they drive through the American south. They visit California and then part ways, with the song's narrator expressing sadness afterwards. Due to the singer's name never being mentioned and the name "Bobby" being easily identifiable to both sexes, the song has been recorded by both male and female singers with only minor changes needed to the lyrical content.

Recordings and notable performances[edit]

"Me and Bobby McGee"
Me and Bobby McGee - Janis Joplin.jpg
Single by Janis Joplin
from the album Pearl
B-side"Half Moon"
ReleasedJanuary 12, 1971[3]
RecordedSeptember 5 – October 1, 1970
GenreBlues rock, country rock
Songwriter(s)Kris Kristofferson, Fred Foster
Producer(s)Paul A. Rothchild

Roger Miller was the first artist to record the song and it appeared at No. 12 on the U.S. country chart in 1969.[4] Gordon Lightfoot's version hit No. 13 on the pop music chart and No. 1 country music chart in his native country of Canada in 1970. The song was included on a Statler Brothers album but was not released as a single.

Kenny Rogers and The First Edition recorded the song (with Rogers on lead vocals) and released it on their album Ruby, Don't Take Your Love To Town in 1969.

Kristofferson recorded his own version of the song on his debut album Kristofferson in 1970. Later that year, his version of the song appeared in Monte Hellman's psychedelic road movie Two-Lane Blacktop. Kristofferson also appears briefly singing the song in the 1971 Dennis Hopper film The Last Movie.

Joplin recorded the song for inclusion on her Pearl album only a few days before her death in October 1970. Kristofferson had sung the song for her, and singer Bob Neuwirth taught it to her. Kristofferson did not know she had recorded it until after her death. The first time he heard her recording of it was the day after she died.[5] Joplin's version topped the charts to become her only number one single and in 2004, her version of this song was ranked No. 148 on Rolling Stone's list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.

Chart performance[edit]

Weekly singles charts[edit]

Roger Miller version[edit]

Chart (1969) Peak
U.S. Billboard Hot Country Singles[6] 12
U.S. Billboard Bubbling Under Hot 100[7] 22
Canadian RPM Country Tracks 3

Gordon Lightfoot version[edit]

Chart (1970) Peak
Canada RPM Country Tracks 1
Canada RPM Top Singles 13
South Africa (Springbok)[8] 7

Janis Joplin version[edit]

Selected list of recorded versions[edit]

Other artists


  1. ^ a b Lydia Hutchinson (June 22, 2013). "Kris Kristofferson's "Me and Bobby McGee"".
  2. ^ Campbell, Courtney. "'Me and Bobby McGee': The Story Behind the Song". Wide Open Country. Retrieved September 23, 2019.
  3. ^
  4. ^ Whitburn, Joel, Joel Whitburn’s Top Country Songs: 1944-2005, Billboard, Record Research Inc., Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin 2005 p. 252
  5. ^ Hawke, Ethan (April 16, 2009). "The Last Outlaw Poet". Rolling Stone (1076): 57. Archived from the original on April 10, 2009. Retrieved April 10, 2009.
  6. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). The Billboard Book Of Top 40 Country Hits: 1944-2006, Second edition. Record Research. p. 232.
  7. ^ Joel Whitburn's Bubbling Under the Billboard Hot 100 1959-2004
  8. ^ "SA Charts 1965–March 1989". August 13, 1971. Retrieved January 12, 2020.
  9. ^ Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970-1992. St Ives, N.S.W.: Australian Chart Book. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.
  10. ^ Canada, Library and Archives (July 17, 2013). "Image : RPM Weekly". Retrieved October 2, 2016.
  11. ^ "flavour of new zealand - search listener". Retrieved October 2, 2016.
  12. ^ Joel Whitburn's Top Pop Singles 1955-1990 - ISBN 0-89820-089-X
  13. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on June 24, 2016. Retrieved June 4, 2016.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  14. ^ "Item Display - RPM - Library and Archives Canada". January 22, 1972. Retrieved January 12, 2020.
  15. ^ Joel Whitburn's Top Pop Singles 1955–1990 - ISBN 0-89820-089-X
  16. ^ Cash Box Top 100 Singles, January 15, 1972
  17. ^ "Australian Chart Book". Archived from the original on March 5, 2016. Retrieved October 2, 2016.
  18. ^ "Item Display - RPM - Library and Archives Canada".
  19. ^ "Top 100 Hits of 1971/Top 100 Songs of 1971". Retrieved October 2, 2016.
  20. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on June 26, 2015. Retrieved May 30, 2016.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  21. ^ "Lalla Hansson - Anna & Mej (Vinyl)". Retrieved October 2, 2016.
  22. ^ "Upp till Ragvaldsträsk! | Svensk mediedatabas". Retrieved October 2, 2016.
  23. ^ "John Doe — Me and Bobby McGee". Retrieved October 2, 2016.

External links[edit]