Guitar lesson for

Me and Bobby McGee

by Janis Joplin  •  Lesson #114

Video lesson

Sheet music for this song will be returning shortly!

  • The sheet music for this song is temporarily unavailable while I move it over to Musicnotes.com, a sheet music service that is providing licensing for my "song" arrangements.
  • Want me to priortize this song, so the sheet music is ready sooner? Click the button below and let me know – this helps me know which songs to work on next!
Request This Song

To learn more about my library of song sheets & instructional PDFs, click here.

Editor’s notes

In this lesson, I’ll teach you how to play “Me and Bobby McGee” on guitar. Originally written by Kris Kristofferson, this lesson is more influenced by the Janis Joplin version of the song. This is one of the first songs I learned on guitar! I’ll show you the chords needed, the strumming pattern, and explain how to change keys midway through the song.

Video timestamps:

Chords needed

Note, the Janis Joplin version of this song changes key halfway through the song (from G to A). Chords for both keys are shown below.

E –––3––––1––––0––––2–––– ––3––    E –––0––––0––––2––––0––––
B –––0––––0––––1––––1–––– ––1––    B –––2––––2––––3––––3––––
G –––0––––0––––0––––2–––– ––0––    G –––2––––0––––2––––1––––
D –––0––––0––––2––––0–––– ––2––    D –––2––––2––––0––––2––––
A –––2––––2––––3––––––––– ––x––    A –––0––––0–––––––––2––––
E –––3––––3–––––––––––––– ––3––    E ––––––––––––––––––0––––
     G    G7   C    D7     C/G           A    A7   D    E7   

Strumming pattern

Here’s the strum pattern I use for this song. On the first down strum I’ll emphasize the bassiest string of the chord (or, if not the single bass-most string, the bassiest 2-3 strings).

1  +  2  +  3  +  4  +  
D     D        U  D  U

Lyrics w/ Chords

G
Busted flap in Baton Rouge, waiting for a train
           G                           D7
When I was feelin’ near as faded as my jeans
D7                       
Bobby thumbed a diesel down just before it rained
     D7                         G    C/G  G
That rode us all the way to New Orleans

  G   
I pulled my harpoon out of my dirty red bandana
      G                  G7             C
I was playing soft while Bobby sang the blues, yeah
C                                  G
Windshield wipers flappin' time, I... was holding Bobby’s hand in mine
D7
We sang every song that driver knew

C                               G
Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose
    D7                                        G      G7
And nothing, I mean nothing, hon, if it ain’t free
    C                            G
And feeling good when was easy, lord, when he sang the blues
         D7                              
You know feeling good was good enough for me...
   D7                                G
...Good enough for me and my Bobby McGee

         A
From the Kentucky coal mines to the California sun
      A                              E7
Yeah, Bobby shared the secrets of my soul
        E7
Through all kinds of weather to everything we’ve done
     E7                            A
Yeah Bobby, baby, kept me from the cold

    A
One day up near Salinas, lord, I let him slip away
     A                A7                 D
He’s looking for that home and I hope he finds it
        D                              A
But I’d trade all my tomorrows for one single yesterday
      E7
To be holdin’ Bobby’s body next to mine

D                               A
Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose
    E7                                  A    A7
And nothing, that’s all that Bobby left me
    D                                 A
And feeling good when was easy, lord, when he sang the blues
    E7   
And feeling good was good enough for me... hmmm...
   E7                                A
...Good enough for me and my Bobby McGee

Good luck!

Let me know if you have questions. I hope this was helpful.

Get my lessons in your inbox!

Every couple weeks I send out an email newsletter with links to whatever new lessons I've made. Sign up here and stay in the loop!


Enjoy my lessons? Buy me a beer!

If this and my other lessons have proven helpful to you, please consider making a one-time donation to my tip jar. Contributions of any amount help make this project possible (including the many, many hours I put into it).

You can also support me on Patreon. For only $3/month you'll get access to a print-friendly PDF of my notes for each new lesson (view free sample).

Thanks!


Subscribe to my YouTube channel

Be sure to never miss a lesson by subscribing on YouTube. I put out 2-3 new videos every week. These include full song lessons, as well as covers, practice tips, behind-the-scenes updates. Thanks!


Recent video lessons:

📝 My "song" PDFs are now individually purcasheable! I've arranged a licensing agreement with Musicnotes, a service that lets you buy sheet music. Patreon suppoters get 50% off each purchase. Get the latest info here »   (last updated July 1, 2021)

October 14, 2021

How to Tune Half-Step Down (E-Flat Tuning)

Tips & Techniques  •  Lesson #394

A quick guide to tuning all your strings down 1/2 step (E-flat tuning), which is a very common alternate tuning used in many songs.

Patreon PDF

October 2, 2021

F Chord Cheat Sheet! 7 Easier Ways to Play It

Tips & Techniques  •  Lesson #392

A quick inventory of 8 different ways to play the dreaded F chord, 7 of which are easier than the dreaded six-string barred version.

Patreon PDF

September 28, 2021

Beginner Riffs with Major 7th Arpeggios

Warm-Up Exercise  •  Lesson #390

A quick exercise where I share over 10 riffs based on a single arpeggio shape, using major 7th chord tones. Backing track included!

Patreon PDF

September 19, 2021

Key of C Major Cheat Sheet!

Tips & Techniques  •  Lesson #388

A deep dive into everything you need to know when playing in the Key of C: notes, chords, fretboard map, tips & tricks, easier ways to play the F chord, and plenty more.

Patreon PDF

September 12, 2021

Major Scale Positions & CAGED Chord Shapes

Tips & Techniques  •  Lesson #384

A deep-dive into the common positions of the major scale, and how they each relate to the CAGED chord shapes... which makes it all easier to understand!

Patreon PDF

August 29, 2021

First Electric! 8 Things I Didn't Expect

Tips & Techniques  •  Lesson #386

I recently got my 1st electric guitar, and was surprised how many things immediately confused me. Here's a quick inventory, in case it helps anyone else starting out!

Patreon PDF

Browse my all lessons

By lesson type

By song decade

By musical genre

By guitar technique

By musical key

By popular artist


← back to lesson list