Guitar lesson for

Me and Bobby McGee

by Janis Joplin  •  Lesson #114

Video lesson

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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

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

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
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
You know feeling good was good enough for me...
   D7                                G
...Good enough for me and my Bobby McGee

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

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
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
And feeling good was good enough for me... hmmm...
   E7                                A
...Good enough for me and my Bobby McGee

Good luck!

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