Guitar lesson for
Me and Bobby McGee
by Janis Joplin • Lesson #114
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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.
- 0:00 Playthrough (partial)
- 0:57 Greeting
- 1:38 Chords needed
- 4:49 Strumming pattern
- 6:07 Changing keys from G to A
- 9:33 Playthrough (complete)
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
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
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