Janis Joplins colourful 1965 Porsche 356C Cabriolet inspired one of her last classics “Mercedes Benz”. The legendary singer and musician Bobby Womack was with her when she had her moment of inspiration. His account of the last time he spent with her is truly insightful into the life of Janis.
Bobby took Janis for a ride in her new Porsche, after a few blocks she started singing: “Oh Lord, won’t you buy me a Mercedez Benz…” When they returned to the studio, the band had gone home, but Joplin put down the vocal track. This took place on October 1, 1970. As Womack tells it, Joplin got a phone call, she asked him to leave, they hugged goodbye, three days later she was found dead of an overdoes.
“Mercedes Benz” is a lonely blues tune about the illusory happiness promised (but rarely delivered) by the pursuit of worldly goods, a hippie-era rejection of the consumerist ideals that Joplin saw growing up as a self-described “middle-class white chick” in Port Arthur, Texas. She had come to California in the early ’60s and quickly earned a place as one of the leading musical lights in a generation that shared her utopian anti-materialism. When Joplin sang, in the second and third verses of “Mercedes Benz,” for “a color TV” and “a night on the town,” she knew all too well that neither would bring her peace. “It’s the want of something that gives you the blues,” she once said. “It’s not what isn’t, it’s what you wish was that makes unhappiness.”
“Oh Lord, won't you buy me a Mercedes Benz?
My friends all drive Porsches, I must make amends.”
- Janis Joplin
Porsche photos by: Peter Harholdt
Images courtesy of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, Cleveland. Ohio
The Porsche is on display courtesy of the Joplin family.