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.

 

Happy Birthday “Killer”

Starting this wordpress site on rock music got me thinking about the timeline of rock music. You know the proverbial “where did it all start?”
I’m not going back to the “Crossroads” with Robert Johnson although I want to because blues is the foundation of so much great music. I am also not buying “Rock around the Clock” with Bill Haley and the Comets. That song is just a little too processed to be the beginning. 1957 and “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On” by the conflicted Wildman of Louisiana-Jerry Lee Lewis, born today in 1935-is where it all starts. The story is well known about the marriage to his 13 year old cousin that burned out his rise to fame very quickly. He was the first great character, kicking his chair across stage, playing piano with his feet. The “Killer” (that is his nickname) put on a show. The “Killer” is still putting on shows….he has outlived countless equally possessed souls who followed him down that path to stardom. From Buddy Holly to Lynyrd Skynyrd in plane crashes. Overdoses of Jimi Hendrix to Amy Whinehouse. Suicides of Kurt Cobain and Michael Hutchence…the list of the fallen goes on and on (This blog plans to get to a lot of these).  Jerry Lee survives to celebrate his 77th birthday and that says something about how the fire in your soul can keep you burning. “Great balls of fire” must keep you burning even longer…Rock on Jerry!