Poor Poor Pitiful Me

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"Poor Poor Pitiful Me"
Song by Warren Zevon
Released 1976
Genre Rock
Length 3:04
Label Asylum
Writer Warren Zevon
Producer Jackson Browne

"Poor Poor Pitiful Me" is a rock song written and originally recorded by Warren Zevon in 1976. It is best known as one of Linda Ronstadt's signature hits from 1978. Country music singer Terri Clark scored a hit in 1996 with her own cover of the song. There have also been many other versions of this song.

Warren Zevon version[edit]


In keeping with Warren Zevon's sardonic lyrical style, the song's verses deal with a failed suicide, 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, whose songs (such as "Here Come Those Tears Again" and "Sleeps Dark and Silent Gate" from The Pretender) could be quite dark.

The song "Poor Poor Pitiful Me" was produced by Jackson 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 1980’s 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"
Single by Linda Ronstadt
from the album Simple Dreams
B-side Simple Man Simple Dream or Blue Bayou
Released January 10, 1978
Format 7" vinyl
Genre Rock, country rock
Length 3:42
Label Asylum
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 that Jackson Browne had pitched "Poor Poor Pitiful Me" to her, teaching it to her in the living room of her Malibu home.[1] Ronstadt's interpretation was produced by Peter Asher for her multi-platinum album Simple Dreams. It had already been a hugely popular radio hit as an album cut. Simple Dreams also contained another Zevon song, "Carmelita." Ronstadt’s live version appeared on the soundtrack album to the smash 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, #45462) at the beginning of 1978, Linda Ronstadt's rocking version of the song was the week's highest debut on the Hot 100 chart the week of January 28, 1978. It reached number 26 on Cash Box Top 100 and number 31 in Billboard.

Chart performance[edit]

Chart (1978) Peak
U.S. Billboard Hot Country Singles 46
U.S. Billboard Easy Listening 27
U.S. Billboard Hot 100 31
Canadian RPM Adult Contemporary Tracks 9
Canadian RPM Country Tracks 36
Canadian RPM Top Singles 31

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"[2]
Released September 23, 1996
Format CD single
Genre Country
Length 3:10
Label Mercury
Producer(s) Keith Stegall
Chris Waters
Terri Clark
Terri Clark singles chronology
"Suddenly Single"
"Poor Poor Pitiful Me"
"Emotional Girl"


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."[3]


"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.

Chart performance[edit]

Chart (1996) Peak
Canada Country Tracks (RPM)[4] 1
US Bubbling Under Hot 100 Singles (Billboard)[5] 9
US Hot Country Songs (Billboard)[6] 5

Year-end charts[edit]

Chart (1996) Position
Canada Country Tracks (RPM)[7] 43
Preceded by
"The Fear of Being Alone"
by Reba McEntire
RPM Country Tracks
number-one single

December 9, 1996
Succeeded by
"Crank My Tractor"
by Michelle Wright

Other versions[edit]

  • In 1986, SNFU did a hardcore punk cover of the song on the compilation It Came from the Pit.
  • Country Kickers covered it in 1997 on The Best of Country ’96.
  • Also in 1997, Mick Lloyd’s Nashville Sound Machine did it on The Best of Country Line Dancing.
  • In 2003 Anne Louise Blythe covered it for Nashville Star: The Finalists.
  • Vitamin String Quartet recorded a instrumental version of the song on Dad Get Me Out of This: The String Quartet Tribute to Warren Zevon in 2003.
  • In 2003 The Lonestar Ladies did the song on A Tribute to Terri Clark.
  • In 2004 Jackson Browne and Bonnie Raitt covered it on Enjoy Every Sandwich: The Songs of Warren Zevon.
  • In 2005 Tim Crouch, Randy Kohrs, Larry Richardson, Kurt Mason and Bo Baseman covered it for Pickin’ to Kill: Pickin’ On Terri Clark: A Bluegrass Tribute.
  • Also in 2005, Roots 66 did the song on Play Back.
  • In 2009, Patty Stone covered it for The Cowgirls of Country.
  • Trudy Andes did it on World Tour Live in 2009.
  • In 2010, Tamra Hayden covered the song on I Believe in the Fire.
  • In 2011 Kellie Witham did the song for Gone Country Part 2.


  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. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2008). Hot Country Songs 1944 to 2008. Record Research, Inc. pp. 95–96. ISBN 0-89820-177-2. 
  3. ^ Billboard, October 5, 1996
  4. ^ "Top RPM Country Tracks: Issue 9900." RPM. Library and Archives Canada. December 9, 1996. Retrieved July 20, 2013.
  5. ^ "Terri Clark – Chart history" Billboard Bubbling Under Hot 100 for Terri Clark.
  6. ^ "Terri Clark – Chart history" Billboard Hot Country Songs for Terri Clark.
  7. ^ "RPM Top 100 Country Tracks of 1996". RPM. December 16, 1996. Retrieved July 20, 2013.