Songsplaining: Demystifying Janis Joplin’s Me and Bobby McGee

On January 11, 1971, Janis Joplin’s infamous Me and Bobby McGee was released as a single. Now, just in case this isn’t common knowledge, her song is a cover version of Kris Kristofferson and Fred Foster’s original song. It might actually come as a surprise to at least a few people. But what’s more notable – and tragic – about the song is that Joplin’s version came out just four months after she died, which was on October 4, 1970. She was only 27.


Photo by Crawley / Kobal / Shutterstock

Me and Bobby McGee went on to become Joplin’s only number-one single, which was released on her posthumous album Pearl. The album sold over four million copies, so yeah, I think it’s safe to say that this song is kind of a big deal. While Kristofferson does indeed get the credit he deserves for penning the original; it’s Joplin who stole his thunder.

But what is it that makes this song so epic? What’s the real story? Well, you’re about to find out…