Saturday, March 20, 1971

Janis Joplin “Me and Bobby McGee” hit #1

Me and Bobby McGee

Janis Joplin

Writer(s): Kris Krisofferson, Fred Foster (see lyrics here)

Released: January 12, 1971

First Charted: January 29, 1971

Peak: 12 BB, 3 CB, 3 GR, 11 HR, 1 CL, 6 CN, 12 AU, 1 DF (Click for codes to charts.)

Sales (in millions): 1.0 US

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 40.4 video, 241.0 streaming


Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

Janis Joplin “was a bawdy, hard-drinking Texas mama who swore like the boys and savaged her white vocal chords to sing the blues.” FB She was born on January 19, 1943, in Port Arthur, Texas. She said she was a sensitive child who was different and “they don’t treta beatniks too good in Texas.” FB She was originally interested in painting and poetry before, at age 17, she turned to music via jazz, Leadbelly, and Odetta. She briefly went to college before landing in the middle of the San Francisco hippie culture in 1966. She joined the group Big Brother & the Holding Company that year, made a name for herself at the Monterey Pop Festival the next year, and released her first solo album in 1969.

She was working on her second solo album, Pearl, when she died at 27 years old from a heroin overdose on October 4, 1970, in Hollywood’s Landmark Hotel. A day before her death, she recorded “Me and Bobby McGee,” which in March 1971 became the second posthumous #1 on the Billboard Hot 100. Otis Redding was first with “Sittin’ on the Dock of the Bay.”

The song was co-written by ex-lover Kris Krisotfferson, a country singer/songwriter, actor, and Rhodes scholar. Kristofferson said Fred Foster, his music publisher, came up with the title and then Kris wrote “a superb narrative of a cross-country journey with a restless spirit constantly in search of new experiences, a doomed but unforgettable relationship.” SS The story was inspired by Fellini’s La Strada movie and set to the rhythm of Mickey Newbury’s “Why You Been Gone So Long.” DT

He said some of his songwriting friends wanted him to omit the line “Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose,” which became “one of the indelible song lyrics of a generation.” SS His friends said, “You got these great concrete images and then you change to the philosophical statement in the chorus.” TB

Country singer Johnny Cash, however, believed in the song and convinced Roger Miller to record it. Cash also gave Krisofferson a slot at the 1969 Newport Folk Festival which kicked off his career. By 1970, he was a successful recording artist and Joplin recorded in one take what is now considered the definitive version of “Me and Bobby McGee” TB and her “career-defining song.” SS


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First posted 9/19/2023.

Derek and the Dominos charted with "Layla"


Derek and the Dominos

Writer(s): Eric Clapton, Jim Gordon (see lyrics here)

First Charted: March 20, 1971

Peak: 10 US, 14 CB, 12 HR, 8 AC, 9 AR, 4 UK, 9 CN, AU 100, 1 DF (Click for codes to singles charts.)

Sales (in millions): -- US, 0.4 UK, 0.4 world (includes US + UK)

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): 6.0 radio, 225.11 video, 236.32 streaming

Layla (Unplugged)

Eric Clapton

Released: September 14, 1992

First Charted: September 5, 1992

Peak: 12 US, 7 CB, 7 RR, 8 AC, 9 AR, 45 UK, 11 CN, 7 AU, 2 DF (Click for codes to singles charts.)

Sales (in millions): 0.23 US

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): 9.0 radio, 6.2 video, 238.95 streaming

Awards (Derek and the Dominos):

Click on award for more details.

Awards (Clapton Unplugged Version):

About the Song:

One of the great classic rock songs was inspired by Nizami, a twelfth-century Persian poet, who told the story of a love affair gone wrong in The Story of Layla and Majnun. HL In Eric Clapton’s version of the tale, the source of unrequited love was Patti Boyd, the wife of his best friend, George Harrison. Clapton never again sounded as tortured as he does here, even on 1992’s “Tears in Heaven,” which Clapton wrote about the death of his four-year-old son. AMG Oh, and Nizami’s version missed a key ingredient of its musical counterpart — “the most recognizable guitar riff in history.” BBC

Derek and the Dominos was a short-lived ensemble comprised of Clapton, members of Delaney and Bonnie’s band, and guitarist Duane Allman, who adapted the “incendiary, fiery riff that fuels the first section” AMG from Albert King’s “The Years Go Passing By.” TC

Also notable was Jim Gordon’s “serene, piano-based coda.” RS500 He was a multi-instrumentalist, but was best known for his drumming. This, however, was a piece he’d been working on for years, finally finding its way into “Layla” two months after the recording was supposedly finished. TC

The original U.S. single peaked at #51 in 1971. The next year, a longer version went to #10 in the U.S. and #7 on the UK charts. A decade later, it hit the UK charts again, going to #4. In 1992, the song emerged in a slower, live version from Clapton’s Unplugged album and hit AC and album rock. “It was an admirable reworking, but...[the] original recording remains one of the towering moments in rock & roll history.” AMG


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Last updated 10/28/2022.