A story my mother used to tell me was that in the early years of her marriage with my father, he wanted to go out partying with his friends. And she had to explain that he was married now; he had children and responsibility. He felt trapped and wanted his freedom. And she used to repeat the refrain from the song, “Me and Bobby McGee”: freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose. As I’ve written before, my mother didn’t think there was a problem that couldn’t be fixed with the appropriate application of a song lyric.
There’s just one problem with that story: the timing is off. My parents had been married for over ten years when Janis Joplin had her megahit with it. But maybe my mother was referring to the Roger Miller version of the song, but that only gains us a year and a half. I’m not doubting my mother. I’m sure she did mention this to my father at some point. But for all my parents problems, I don’t recall my father’s lack of commitment to the family being one of them. So I’m going to give him a pass on this one. Anyway, maybe I have the story all wrong and it wasn’t even about my father. I’ve got a lousy memory for that kind of stuff.
Anyway, here is what I still think is the best version of the song off by far Joplin’s best album, Pearl: