The theme for Song Lyric Sunday this week is “drive/driving.”
Still going my own way with this week’s theme to post this Janis Joplin classic which has been a part of pop culture for almost five decades.
Mercedes Benz was written by Joplin and the poets Michael McClure and Bob Neuwirth at Vahsen’s, a Port Chester, New York bar, on August 8, 1970 during an impromptu poetry jam. The lyrics were inspired by the first line of a song written by McClure, “Come on, God, and buy me a Mercedes Benz.” Janis would sing the song for the first time at a concert later that same night.
The song is about the search for happiness by the pursuit of worldly goods. It’s a classic hippie rejection of the consumerism that was already a big part of American society.
Recorded in one take two months later, Mercedes Benz would also be Joplin’s last recorded song. She died three days later on October 4, 1970 of a heroin overdose. Janis was just twenty-seven-years old.
The song has been covered dozens of times by artists and groups around the world including Elton John, Taj Mahal, and Pink, and used in countless movies and advertising campaigns. Many may be unfamiliar with Joplin and her music but most have heard this song at least once since its release.