Bobby McGee Deconstructed

Bobby McGee deconstructed-


We start with nothing:

“Busted flat in Baton Rouge, waitin’ for a train”

We end with nothing:

“Nothing and that’s all that Bobby left me”

We’d give anything to do it all over again:

“I’d trade all my tomorrows for a single yesterday”

This is deeper than just a typical little folk/country/rock song- Kris Kristofferson has hit on something profound.

An adventure starts in Louisiana rain and goes through “Kentucky coal mines to the California sun”. This is a song that can be appreciated by the broke majority in “all kinds of weather”.

“I pulled my harpoon from my dirty red bandana”

The Bandana: The symbol of the outlaw, cowboy or counter culture.

Harpoon: slang for harmonica …this is groovy man….the good ol’ harmonica and echoes of first person blues sung on the road. This goes all the way back to the origins of rock music and fitting that it starts on the edge of the Mississippi delta.

Pink can’t mess this song up- it is that good.

“Freedom is just another word for nothing left to lose.”


There are iconic lines in rock music, I don’t know how many (maybe a future post?) but I do know this one gets thrown on the rough draft and makes it through all revisions with no argument.

Freedom is a cool thing but this has me thinking a different way.

Freedom is the last option for the desperate among us.

Freedom is a benefit that remains when all else has been lost in America.

Or…whatever interpretation of this line you want to add based on your own life and experience….go ahead- try one-this line can take it. As in all great art—it holds up under all kinds of light and still shines in any darkness.

The Voice

Janis Joplin sings like a tiger escaped from a circus

Dangerous but beautiful- Sad but truthful. Tamed enough to perform, but still wild. I hear echoes of those Kentucky coalmines. I hear the brooding downpours of the Louisiana rain. I feel the California sun burning in that voice.

The combination of great song writing with this vocal instrument makes this an essential work. Without this song -Janis Joplin could easily be remembered like Mama Cass as just another casualty of the 60’s-

With this song she becomes a legend.

And speaking of legends-here is “The Killer” Jerry Lee Lewis with a version

And finally- I am hanging on to the hope that Bobby McGee actually did find that elusive “home’ when he/she (or both, whatever works for you today, we don’t judge at the cave) slipped away near Salinas.


12 thoughts on “Bobby McGee Deconstructed

  1. Thanks for the like, may I ask why?
    Your geezer rock category interested me. My music decade (ages 15-25, the 10 years when you lock into what you like for life) was 1963-73 so I qualify as a geezer. I can’t imagine a better decade to be trapped in. but I would say that wouldn’t I?
    Bobby McGee was right in the middle of that time and it seem to me that Bobby was not a person but all that was good about that decade; feeling poor but good, having loyal friends and occasionally lovers is good enough.
    Then it was over, coworkers and wives aren’t quit the same.

    1. Thanks for the comment and totally agree on that “coming of age” time as the music that you carry with you.
      The illustrations on your site are fun, funny and extremely well rendered so that is why I gave them a like. I have just started with illustrator and have a ways to go to approach a pro level.
      And thanks for dropping by the cave!

      1. Thanks (again) for liking my efforts. You mention illustrator for drawing; consider photoshop,too. My drawings are sketched and scanned, then “inked” and colored there. But illustrator works too, I teach a digital drawing class where both are worked with and students are as successful with one as the other, but they prefer photoshop 2 to 1.
        And I will stop back by for more music lessons.

    1. Yes and like “Paradise Lost” you are pulled right in that story. And…it even holds up to the most hideous recording device of all time-THE EIGHT TRACK.:)

All replies welcome (be nice)

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s