Janis Joplin – Mercedes Benz (Leaping Ahead #269)

Leaping Ahead Project 2016 #269: 160925

[A song about cars (2)]

The song’s lyrics were written at Vahsen’s, a Port Chester, New York bar at 30 Broad Street on August 8, 1970 during an impromptu poetry jam between Joplin and songwriter-friend Bob Neuwirth.The lyrics were inspired by the first line of a song written by San Francisco beat poet Michael McClure, “Come on, God, and buy me a Mercedes Benz.” Joplin heard it sung by a friend of McClure’s, and she began to sing it, too. At the Port Chester bar, Joplin sang the line a few times and began riffing on the McClure lyrics, while Neuwirth copied the new lyrics onto bar napkins, which he kept for years. She sang the new version for the first time that night at her concert at the Capitol Theatre in Port Chester.

The song was recorded in one take on October 1, 1970. It was amongst the last tracks Joplin ever recorded as she died three days later, on October 4.


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