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.

Janis Joplin performing with passion

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…