‘Me and Bobby McGee’ renditions, ranked

Kris Kristofferson, who wrote the song, explains the freedom line in the lyrics: “The two-edged sword that freedom is. He was free when he left the girl, but it destroyed him. That’s where the line ‘Freedom’s just another name for nothing left to lose’ came from.”

On to the rankings! I ranked only individual performances.

1. Johnny Cash:

2. Kris Kristofferson:

3. Reba McEntire (Kris Kristofferson sings a couple lines):

4. Roger Miller:

5. Dolly Parton:

6. Charley Pride:

7. Anne Murray:

8. Willie Nelson:

9. Waylon Jennings:

10. Jeannie C. Riley:

11. Olivia Newton-John:

12. Janice Joplin:

13. Joan Baez:

14. Kenny Rogers:

15. Getting hit by a bus:

16. Grateful Dead:

17. Getting hit by a train:

18. LeAnn Rimes:

19. Run over by a tank:

20. Pink:

* There are a lot more renditions of ‘Me and Bobby McGee’. Did I miss something good?



  1. Maybe, if I never heard Janice Joplin’s version I might listen to another version, but that’s the only version for me. It cannot be unheard. It’s like when you hear Hallelujah, you have to cleanse your ears by listening to Leonard Cohen sing it.

  2. Earendil, I hope you know i adore you, but I’m sorry my friend, this list is *NOT* right!!!

    I love country music because i grew up listening to it. And YES, Bobby McGee was written by one of the Greats of Country music….

    But this list is off-kilter, and WAY too many *just ok* country versions are above the version of this song that *made* it what it later became…

    Agreeing here, with Sedevilc, BBTM, and RIP, that the Janis version has to be MUCH further up.

    I get that Kris’s version, and Johnny’s etc. have the “original” tempo–but Janis brought the moving vehicle/riding on a train “swing” into the song, and she made you *feel* the time & miles moving beneath/behind you, as you listen & progress through the song.

    (And, imo, Pink’s needs to move up a good ways, too–‘cuz LeAnn’s… flourishes(?!?🙃) are just TOO much, in a song that’s already drawn-out & drawl-y!)

    • what can I do? I’m not a big fan of janis’ version. I’m a big fan of johnny’s, kris’, amd reba’s. I wasn’t aware of reba’s prior to writing this!

      I’m not sure how to describe this, hopefully it makes some sense!, but when a singer raises the tone/pitch of his/her voice he/she better sound good to me while at that higher level. I’m very much turned off if I don’t like their voice at that higher tone/pitch. I prefer it very much for the singer to not go high at all then to go high and not sound good [to my ears]. Stay low and sweet. That explains reba at 3, janis at 12, and pink at 20! I consider what pink/leann did after the first minute and a half an abomination…

      did I just dig a better grave for myself? 🙂

      • “I’m very much turned off if I don’t like their voice at that higher tone/pitch.”

        This is TOTALLY valid!

        *and* yet, the list is still wrong😉😆🤣🤣

        (And THANK YOU, too! Because I’ve been giggling on & off since I read the post, because this sort of goofy,fun “arguing” about the *rightness*/*wrongness* of something completely inane is EXACTLY the sort of pressure valve I think lots of us probably need this week–so the post is *PERFECTION*😉🤗💖💗💓💞)

  3. I’ll give you a star but I don’t really understand this post. Like Emmer says, some of these are pretty mediocre versions of the song. And I don’t see how the hit by a bus fits in this list. It could just be me though.

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