Poor Poor Pitiful Me

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"Poor Poor Pitiful Me"
Song by Warren Zevon
from the album Warren Zevon
GenreRock, Country rock
Songwriter(s)Warren Zevon
Producer(s)Jackson Browne

"Poor Poor Pitiful Me" is a rock song written and first recorded by American musician Warren Zevon in 1976.

With gender references reversed, it was made a hit twice: first as a top-40 hit for Linda Ronstadt, then over a decade later by Terri Clark, whose version topped the Canadian country charts and reached the country top five in the U.S.

Warren Zevon version[edit]


In keeping with Warren Zevon's sardonic lyrical style, the song's verses deal with a suicide attempt, domestic abuse, and a brush with sadomasochism. The song first appeared on Zevon's 1976 self-titled solo album. It is reputed to be a friendly swipe at Jackson Browne; Browne's own songwriting (such as "Here Come Those Tears Again" and "Sleep's Dark and Silent Gate" from The Pretender) could be quite depressing.

The song "Poor Poor Pitiful Me" was produced by Browne and was featured on Zevon's eponymous 1976 album Warren Zevon with backing vocals by Lindsey Buckingham. The track was later included on his greatest hits compilations A Quiet Normal Life (1986), I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead (1996), and Genius: The Best of Warren Zevon (2002). Live versions appeared on 1980s Stand in the Fire and 1993's Learning to Flinch. Alternate studio versions were included in the 2008 reissue of Warren Zevon, as well as the posthumous 2007 compilation Preludes: Rare and Unreleased Recordings.

Linda Ronstadt version[edit]

"Poor Poor Pitiful Me"
Poor Poor Pitiful Me - Linda Ronstadt.jpg
Single by Linda Ronstadt
from the album Simple Dreams
B-side"Simple Man Simple Dream" (or "Blue Bayou")
ReleasedJanuary 10, 1978
GenreRock, country rock
LabelAsylum 45462
Songwriter(s)Warren Zevon
Producer(s)Peter Asher
Linda Ronstadt singles chronology
"It's So Easy"
"Poor Poor Pitiful Me"
"Tumbling Dice"


Linda Ronstadt recorded a gender-altered version of the song during 1977. Ronstadt would recall Jackson Browne had pitched "Poor Poor Pitiful Me" to her, teaching it to her in the living room of her Malibu home.[1] "The verse in “Poor Pitiful Me” was “I met a girl on the Sunset Strip,” I think, “She asked me if I’d beat her / She took me up to her hotel room / And wrecked my mojo heater.” It was really funny, and I'm saying to Jackson, “I can’t sing those words, man! That’s not who I am. . . . I have to leave that part out.”[2]

With Zevon's blessing, Ronstadt replaced the verse with “Well I met a boy / In the Vieux Carré, down in Yokohama / He picked me up and he threw me down / Saying "Please don't hurt me Mama!".” This verse was also used in Clark's version of the song.

Ronstadt's interpretation was produced by Peter Asher for her multi-platinum album Simple Dreams. Ronstadt's live version appeared on the soundtrack album to the 1978 movie FM, while the studio version was included on her platinum-plus album Greatest Hits, Volume 2.


Released as a single (on the Asylum label at the beginning of 1978, Ronstadt's version was the week's highest debut on the Billboard Hot 100 chart the week of January 28, 1978. It reached number 26 on the Cash Box Top 100[3] and number 31 in Billboard.

Chart performance[edit]

Chart (1978) Peak
Canadian RPM Adult Contemporary Tracks 9
Canadian RPM Country Tracks 36
Canadian RPM Top Singles 31
US Hot Country Songs (Billboard)[4] 46
U.S. Billboard Easy Listening [5] 27
US Billboard Hot 100[6] 31
U.S. Cash Box Top 100[3] 26

Terri Clark version[edit]

"Poor Poor Pitiful Me"
Single by Terri Clark
from the album Just the Same
B-side"Something You Should've Said"[7]
ReleasedSeptember 23, 1996
Songwriter(s)Warren Zevon
Producer(s)Keith Stegall
Chris Waters
Terri Clark
Terri Clark singles chronology
"Suddenly Single"
"Poor Poor Pitiful Me"
"Emotional Girl"
Music video
"Poor Poor Pitiful Me" on YouTube


Another hit cover version of the song was recorded by Canadian country singer Terri Clark. It was released in September 1996 as the lead single from her second album, 1996's Just the Same. Clark told Billboard magazine that she heard Linda Ronstadt's version of the song in a local gymnasium while she was exercising. She said "and I thought, what a cool song. What a great country record that could make. I started doing it live, and it worked."[8]


"Poor Poor Pitiful Me" debuted at number 47 on the U.S. Billboard Hot Country Singles & Tracks for the week of October 12, 1996. Clark's version was a number one hit on the Canadian RPM country charts, and a number five hit on the country charts in the U.S.

Music video[edit]

The music video was directed by Deaton Flanigen and premiered in late 1996. It comprises black-and-white tour footage interspersed with Clark being approached by a series of men while her car is being fixed at a full service gas station. Eventually, she realizes the man fixing her car is the one for her. She starts to drive off, before calling him over to get in. The two drive off together, leaving the other two co-workers at the shop surprised.

Chart performance[edit]

Chart (1996) Peak
Canada Country Tracks (RPM)[9] 1
US Bubbling Under Hot 100 Singles (Billboard)[10] 109
US Hot Country Songs (Billboard)[11] 5

Year-end charts[edit]

Chart (1996) Position
Canada Country Tracks (RPM)[12] 43

Other versions[edit]


  1. ^ Ronstadt, Linda (2013). Simple Dreams: a musical memoir (1st hardcover ed.). New York: Simon & Schuster. p. 63. ISBN 978-1-4516-6872-8.
  2. ^ Maiscott, Mary Lyn. "Linda Ronstadt: I Know When Parkinson's Hit from Listening to My Own Singing". Vanity Fair. Retrieved 2018-03-26.
  3. ^ a b "Top 100 1978-03-18". Cashbox Magazine. Retrieved 2015-05-25.
  4. ^ "Linda Ronstadt Chart History (Hot Country Songs)". Billboard.
  5. ^ "Adult Contemporary: Linda Ronstadt". Billboard. 2019. Retrieved 9 May 2019.
  6. ^ "Linda Ronstadt Chart History (Hot 100)". Billboard.
  7. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2008). Hot Country Songs 1944 to 2008. Record Research, Inc. pp. 95–96. ISBN 978-0-89820-177-2.
  8. ^ Billboard, October 5, 1996
  9. ^ "Top RPM Country Tracks: Issue 9900." RPM. Library and Archives Canada. December 9, 1996. Retrieved July 20, 2013.
  10. ^ "Terri Clark Chart History (Bubbling Under Hot 100)". Billboard.
  11. ^ "Terri Clark Chart History (Hot Country Songs)". Billboard.
  12. ^ "RPM Top 100 Country Tracks of 1996". RPM. December 16, 1996. Retrieved July 20, 2013.