“Me and Bobby McGee” has been recorded by more artists than you can shake a stick at. The song was written by Kris Kristofferson and originally cut by Roger Moore. However, Janis Joplin made the song a hit. Many people consider it one of Joplin’s finest works. It was released on her posthumous 1971 album Pearl. Since Joplin made it a hit, dozens of artists have stepped up to deliver their own rendition of the classic song. One of those artists was Waylon Jennings.
Waylon released his cut of the song on Lonesome On’ry and Mean in 1973. However, he had been carrying the song in his pocket for quite some time. In fact, this video shows a young, clean-cut Waylon Jennings making “Me and Bobby McGee,” his own on a television show.
Waylon Jennings Crushes “Me and Bobby McGee”
Currently, country music fans know Waylon Jennings as an outlaw country legend. Albums like Lonesome On’ry and Mean and, especially, Honky Tonk Heroes solidified him as such. After breaking away from the strict control of label executives and producers, Waylon was able to control all aspects of his recordings. This was the heart and soul of outlaw country. His rugged individualism helped to define a subgenre of country music that led artists like Waylon, Willie Nelson, Tompall Glaser, and Billy Joe Shaver to prominence. The influence of that era still reverberates through the country music world today.
Before Waylon Jennings was an outlaw legend, though, he was a clean-cut country singer. In this video, we see both sides of Waylon. He looks the way Nashville wanted its stars to look. He wears the polished image and so does his band. However, we hear the beginnings of his hard-driving outlaw sound in the recording.
Like with any other song he played, Waylon Jennings made “Me and Bobby McGee,” his own. One great example of him owning the track comes in the last minute or so of the video. While Joplin’s version features a vocal solo of sorts that features nonsense lyrics with, “Bobby McGee,” thrown in from time to time, Waylon’s version leaves that out. Instead, Jennings and his band opt to swap solos until the end of the track. First, there’s a great pedal steel solo. Then, Waylon picks a guitar solo that puts the twang of his custom Telecaster front and center. Many listeners might know “Me and Bobby McGee,” as a 70s rock classic but Waylon’s version is pure country.