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Bobbie McGee's 'harpoon'

DigiTrad:
HELP ME MAKE IT THRU THE NIGHT
JAN, CAROL AND WARREN
ME AND BOBBY MCGEE


Related threads:
Lyr Add: The Circle (Kris Kristofferson) (11)
Casey's last ride - meaning? (106)
Lyr/Chords Req: Casey's Last Ride (Kristofferson) (10)
Help: Me and Bobby McGee (40)
Add: Here Comes that Rainbow Again (Kristofferson) (8)
Lyr Req: Pilgrim (Chapter 33) (Kris Kristofferson) (12)
Lyr Req: Sunday Morning Coming Down (Kristofferson (7)
Kris Kristofferson's new CD (6)
Lyr Add: To Beat the Devil (Kris Kristofferson) (1)
Kris Kristofferson & 'the lady' (9)
Lyr/Chords Req: Me and Bobby McGee (12)
Kris Kristofferson ripped me off (12)
(origins) Origin: For the Good Times (Kristofferson) (14)
Kris Kristofferson-waitress give hobo change (2)


Murray MacLeod 18 Apr 00 - 07:29 PM
George Seto - af221@chebucto.ns.ca 18 Apr 00 - 07:32 PM
DADGBE 18 Apr 00 - 07:52 PM
Murray MacLeod 18 Apr 00 - 08:07 PM
Murray MacLeod 18 Apr 00 - 08:13 PM
George Seto - af221@chebucto.ns.ca 18 Apr 00 - 08:22 PM
DADGBE 18 Apr 00 - 09:08 PM
Jon Freeman 18 Apr 00 - 09:52 PM
Mike Billo 18 Apr 00 - 09:56 PM
Mark Clark 19 Apr 00 - 02:09 AM
Grab 19 Apr 00 - 08:30 AM
GUEST,Bill in Alabama 19 Apr 00 - 05:38 PM
Biskit 19 Apr 00 - 06:37 PM
GUEST,tcn 26 Apr 10 - 11:52 PM
GUEST,Woodsie 27 Apr 10 - 12:13 AM
mousethief 27 Apr 10 - 12:42 AM
GUEST,Woodsie 27 Apr 10 - 01:30 AM
BobKnight 27 Apr 10 - 04:31 AM
Brian May 27 Apr 10 - 02:38 PM
meself 27 Apr 10 - 02:43 PM
PoppaGator 27 Apr 10 - 02:50 PM
John MacKenzie 27 Apr 10 - 03:16 PM
Murray MacLeod 27 Apr 10 - 07:14 PM
Nick E 27 Apr 10 - 09:37 PM
GUEST,highlandman at work 28 Apr 10 - 09:12 AM
topical tom 28 Apr 10 - 10:41 AM
PoppaGator 28 Apr 10 - 12:05 PM
Barbara 28 Apr 10 - 01:04 PM
Murray MacLeod 28 Apr 10 - 06:17 PM
Don Firth 28 Apr 10 - 07:13 PM
GUEST 16 Jul 13 - 04:35 AM
GUEST,henryp 16 Jul 13 - 05:45 AM
GUEST,Grishka 16 Jul 13 - 06:18 AM
breezy 16 Jul 13 - 08:03 PM
GUEST 17 Jul 13 - 12:57 AM
Ron Davies 17 Jul 13 - 07:22 AM
Ron Davies 17 Jul 13 - 07:23 AM
Lighter 17 Jul 13 - 09:27 AM
PHJim 17 Jul 13 - 06:00 PM
GUEST,Grishka 17 Jul 13 - 06:43 PM
Rapparee 17 Jul 13 - 07:01 PM
Ron Davies 18 Jul 13 - 01:11 AM
GUEST,Grishka 18 Jul 13 - 05:49 AM
Ron Davies 18 Jul 13 - 06:26 PM
PHJim 18 Jul 13 - 07:18 PM
Ron Davies 18 Jul 13 - 08:14 PM
PHJim 18 Jul 13 - 09:57 PM
PHJim 18 Jul 13 - 10:01 PM
PHJim 18 Jul 13 - 10:03 PM
Little Hawk 18 Jul 13 - 10:52 PM
Ron Davies 19 Jul 13 - 12:42 AM
Ron Davies 19 Jul 13 - 12:54 AM
Ron Davies 19 Jul 13 - 12:55 AM
GUEST,Grishka 19 Jul 13 - 05:43 AM
Little Hawk 19 Jul 13 - 07:49 AM
GUEST,Grishka 19 Jul 13 - 01:32 PM
Lighter 19 Jul 13 - 02:47 PM
PHJim 19 Jul 13 - 03:57 PM
GUEST,Grishka 19 Jul 13 - 04:41 PM
frogprince 19 Jul 13 - 06:37 PM
GUEST,Grishka 19 Jul 13 - 06:51 PM
John P 19 Jul 13 - 07:29 PM
John P 19 Jul 13 - 07:36 PM
Ron Davies 20 Jul 13 - 01:07 AM
Ron Davies 20 Jul 13 - 01:10 AM
Ron Davies 20 Jul 13 - 01:15 AM
Ron Davies 20 Jul 13 - 01:18 AM
GUEST,Grishka 20 Jul 13 - 08:35 AM
Little Hawk 20 Jul 13 - 08:55 AM
dick greenhaus 20 Jul 13 - 09:40 AM
Ron Davies 20 Jul 13 - 10:42 AM
Ron Davies 20 Jul 13 - 10:45 AM
Little Hawk 20 Jul 13 - 11:29 AM
Ron Davies 20 Jul 13 - 11:43 AM
Ron Davies 20 Jul 13 - 11:48 AM
Little Hawk 20 Jul 13 - 01:02 PM
Ron Davies 20 Jul 13 - 01:52 PM
Little Hawk 20 Jul 13 - 05:20 PM
GUEST,Grishka 20 Jul 13 - 06:03 PM
Joybell 20 Jul 13 - 10:14 PM
GUEST,Grishka 21 Jul 13 - 06:35 AM
Ron Davies 21 Jul 13 - 09:38 AM
GUEST,Grishka 21 Jul 13 - 11:43 AM
Little Hawk 21 Jul 13 - 05:06 PM
Ron Davies 22 Jul 13 - 09:22 AM
Little Hawk 22 Jul 13 - 09:55 AM
GUEST 22 Jul 13 - 01:23 PM
GUEST,Grishka 22 Jul 13 - 01:24 PM
Ron Davies 22 Jul 13 - 10:05 PM
Little Hawk 23 Jul 13 - 06:46 PM
Little Hawk 23 Jul 13 - 06:47 PM
Ron Davies 23 Jul 13 - 10:02 PM
Little Hawk 23 Jul 13 - 11:03 PM
Ron Davies 24 Jul 13 - 12:29 AM
GUEST 10 Sep 13 - 12:46 AM
GUEST,Dave 14 Sep 13 - 03:20 PM
McGrath of Harlow 14 Sep 13 - 09:22 PM
GUEST,Mike 15 Sep 13 - 07:02 AM
meself 15 Sep 13 - 10:22 AM
Amos 15 Sep 13 - 11:28 AM
GUEST,Mike B. in Oshawa 24 Oct 13 - 12:57 PM
PHJim 24 Oct 13 - 03:46 PM
Don Firth 24 Oct 13 - 03:51 PM
GUEST,Phil d'Conch 18 Sep 17 - 04:00 AM
GUEST,henryp 18 Sep 17 - 07:01 AM
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Subject: Bobbie McGee's 'harpoon'
From: Murray MacLeod
Date: 18 Apr 00 - 07:29 PM

Can anybody enlighten me as to whether a mouth-harp is refered to as a "harpoon" anywhere else in recorded song, or in print for that matter ? Or did Kris Kristofferson invent the term? (I am assuming thay a "harpoon" is in fact a mouth-harp)

Murray


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Subject: RE: Bobbie McGee's 'harpoon'
From: George Seto - af221@chebucto.ns.ca
Date: 18 Apr 00 - 07:32 PM

I think you'll find that the harp is the harmonica. It's a term used for that instrument.


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Subject: RE: Bobbie McGee's 'harpoon'
From: DADGBE
Date: 18 Apr 00 - 07:52 PM

Hi Murray,

I've always thought that the line, "I pulled my harpoon out of my dirty red bandanna..." refered to the stick that held a hobo's red bandanna wrapped bindle on his shoulder.

'Course I could be wrong.


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Subject: RE: Bobbie McGee's 'harpoon'
From: Murray MacLeod
Date: 18 Apr 00 - 08:07 PM

George, I was aware that a harp is a colloquial term among American musicians for a harmonica. Larry Adler played harmonica, Charlie McCoy harp, also known as mouth-harp (not to be confused with Jew's -harp). But my question is, is a "harpoon " a harp ?

Murray


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Subject: RE: Bobbie McGee's 'harpoon'
From: Murray MacLeod
Date: 18 Apr 00 - 08:13 PM

Hi there Drop-D, that is an interesting thought. I have always had this mental picture of the singer pulling his harp out of his headband, but you could be right. But why would he blow his stick? (Unless he carried his bundle on a flute ??)

Murray


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Subject: RE: Bobbie McGee's 'harpoon'
From: George Seto - af221@chebucto.ns.ca
Date: 18 Apr 00 - 08:22 PM

I had always thought of it as the harmonica. That's the impression it always gave to me.

Sorry I misunderstood your original request.


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Subject: RE: Bobbie McGee's 'harpoon'
From: DADGBE
Date: 18 Apr 00 - 09:08 PM

I think the whole line is: "I pulled my harpoon out of my dirty red bandanna and was blowing soft while Bobby sang the blues."

It always gave me the mind picture of two hitch hikers climbing into the truck cab, settling their gear and starting to play music.


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Subject: RE: Bobbie McGee's 'harpoon'
From: Jon Freeman
Date: 18 Apr 00 - 09:52 PM

I have searched and can't find the answer to the origins of this use of the word harpoon although I to feel it is the harmonica being referred to. I found this on my search though; it appears that the Finnish for Jews Harp is Munniharppuuna which apparently is literally, a mouth harpoon.

Jon


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Subject: RE: Bobbie McGee's 'harpoon'
From: Mike Billo
Date: 18 Apr 00 - 09:56 PM

When I first started playing harmonica,(early 60's)harpoon was a common term for the harmonica. Country harp hot shot Charlie McCoy had a hit in the mid-60's called "Harpoon Man" which included vocals by McCoy about "the harpoon man at the Club Oriole" punctuated by McCoy playing super hot solos to recreate the sound of the Harpoon man.


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Subject: RE: Bobbie McGee's 'harpoon'
From: Mark Clark
Date: 19 Apr 00 - 02:09 AM

A harpoon/harmonica was also commonly known as a French harp. Odd since they were mostly made in Germany.


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Subject: RE: Bobbie McGee's 'harpoon'
From: Grab
Date: 19 Apr 00 - 08:30 AM

Must be a harmonica. You don't blow on a Jew's harp, you twang.


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Subject: RE: Bobbie McGee's 'harpoon'
From: GUEST,Bill in Alabama
Date: 19 Apr 00 - 05:38 PM

In the area where I grew up, a harmonica was commonly called a harpoon, a french harp, or just a harp. I can't remember for certain, but I believe I remember hearing the term harpoon used by the M.C. in introducing Deford Baily on an old recording of a '40's broadcast of the Grand Ole Opry. Whatever the etymology, the fact is that, in this neck of the woods, a harpoon is a folk name for harmonica.


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Subject: RE: Bobbie McGee's 'harpoon'
From: Biskit
Date: 19 Apr 00 - 06:37 PM

Well.....I always thought the harpoon mentioned was a harp, (harmonica) but then I pulled my harp out of my dirty red bandanna,really wouldn't 'ave flowed. -Biskit- (on the road)


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Subject: RE: Bobbie McGee's 'harpoon'
From: GUEST,tcn
Date: 26 Apr 10 - 11:52 PM

I've read that while the term was intentioanlly ambiguous - and could refer to a hamonica for mainstream artists like Miller - Kristofferson saw the characters as addicts and the harpoon is a heroin syringe.


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Subject: RE: Bobbie McGee's 'harpoon'
From: GUEST,Woodsie
Date: 27 Apr 10 - 12:13 AM

Guest, Ed

Bollox - Where did you read this shit?


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Subject: RE: Bobbie McGee's 'harpoon'
From: mousethief
Date: 27 Apr 10 - 12:42 AM

I don't see where Guest, Ed has posted on this thread?


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Subject: RE: Bobbie McGee's 'harpoon'
From: GUEST,Woodsie
Date: 27 Apr 10 - 01:30 AM

Ooops sorry that was Guest, tcn

Carrying a syringe around in a dirty bandana and then getting it out in the cab when you' ve just been given a ride - Crap!

It's already been explained earlier in the thread that it is a harmonica. This is backed up by further source references to the same teminoligy.


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Subject: RE: Bobbie McGee's 'harpoon'
From: BobKnight
Date: 27 Apr 10 - 04:31 AM

Kenny Rogers recorded it too and sang, 'I pulled my mouth-harp out of my old dirty red bandana.'


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Subject: RE: Bobbie McGee's 'harpoon'
From: Brian May
Date: 27 Apr 10 - 02:38 PM

Perhaps he was blowing hard because it's really hard to stick a harpoon in someone - especially if he's driving.

Bobby was singing the blues because if the driver has been stabbed, they're all going to die anyway, so they might as well sing something appropriate.

You see, it's about interpretation . . .

No wonder Bobby got out and left him, he was really unpredictable.


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Subject: RE: Bobbie McGee's 'harpoon'
From: meself
Date: 27 Apr 10 - 02:43 PM

No question that the 'harpoon' is a harmonica - nothing else makes any sense - and two or three posters have stated that they were familiar with the term as meaning harmonica before the song appeared, which is what the OP was inquiring about. Otherwise, what is the speaker "blowing soft"? (Please, no theories!)

The bandana is not being worn; it is a kerchief that is being used to wrap around the harmonica, to keep it free of lint, dust, seeds & stems, grains of heroin, tabs of acid, and whatever else happens to be in the speaker's pocket.


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Subject: RE: Bobbie McGee's 'harpoon'
From: PoppaGator
Date: 27 Apr 10 - 02:50 PM

Not only have I never understood use of the word "harpoon" for "(mouth) harp," I never did, and still don't, understand what the damn thing was doing inside a dirty red bandana. The entire line is so wacky that I never even thought to wonder whether the banadana was around the guy's head, or tied around his neck, or in his pocket. The pocket probably makes the most sense.

Great song, nevertheless! I haven't sung it in years, but it was a mainstay of my repertoire throughout the 70s. Juat one more example to prove that lyrics need not be 100% rational or understandable for a song to be successful.


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Subject: RE: Bobbie McGee's 'harpoon'
From: John MacKenzie
Date: 27 Apr 10 - 03:16 PM

Well I wouldn't want to blow Kendall's harpoon!


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Subject: RE: Bobbie McGee's 'harpoon'
From: Murray MacLeod
Date: 27 Apr 10 - 07:14 PM

strange to see this thread resurface after ten years ...

for purposes of terminological exactitude, the original line which Kristofferson wrote and sang is:

" I took my harpoon out of my dirty red bandanna"

I have a couple of friends who are going to the Chicago Blues Festival in June, I have given them instructions to ask around and ascertain whether "harpoon" is in fact common usage for "harp".


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Subject: RE: Bobbie McGee's 'harpoon'
From: Nick E
Date: 27 Apr 10 - 09:37 PM

I always thought it was a contraction for " i pulled my harp (harmonica) on outa ( out of )..."
So I think she/he sings I pulled my harp on outa my dirty red bandanna and many hear it wrong , like Jimme Hendrix lyric, Excuse me while I kiss this guy...


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Subject: RE: Bobbie McGee's 'harpoon'
From: GUEST,highlandman at work
Date: 28 Apr 10 - 09:12 AM

A mondegreen is when you hear something unfamiliar as something similar-sounding which is more familiar.

(bad moon on the rise => bathroom on the right)

I don't think it works in reverse.

Or should we call it a neergednom?
-Glenn


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Subject: RE: Bobbie McGee's 'harpoon'
From: topical tom
Date: 28 Apr 10 - 10:41 AM

I too have always assumed that a "harpoon" in the context of the song is a harmonica.BTW, among other terms, has anyone heard of the harmonica being called "the sweet potato"?Some musician/singer I once heard called it such but unfortunately I have forgotten his or her name.


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Subject: RE: Bobbie McGee's 'harpoon'
From: PoppaGator
Date: 28 Apr 10 - 12:05 PM

The "sweet potato" is another name for the ocarina, a small instrument played by mouth. According to Wiki:

The ocarina ( /ɒkəˈri¢°nə/) is an ancient flute-like wind instrument.[1] While variations exist, a typical ocarina is an oval-shaped enclosed space with four to twelve finger holes and a mouthpiece that projects from the body. It is often ceramic, but other materials, such as plastic, wood, glass, and metal may also be used.

In the 1941 movie "Meet John Doe," Gary Cooper and Walter Brennan play duets on harmonica and ocarina. Cooper was a fairly serious harmonica player and took every opportunity to play it in his films.


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Subject: RE: Bobbie McGee's 'harpoon'
From: Barbara
Date: 28 Apr 10 - 01:04 PM

And I always assumed the harmonica was in his pocket wrapped in a dirty red bandanna, because 1. dirty -- if they were hitchhiking, they'd not washed anything for a while, and 2. if you keep a harmonica just kicking around in your pocket or pack or whatever, it picks up crud that jams in the reeds and it won't play. You can keep them in the cardboard box for a while, but it doesn't last.
Blessings,
Barbara


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Subject: RE: Bobbie McGee's 'harpoon'
From: Murray MacLeod
Date: 28 Apr 10 - 06:17 PM

just for the record, there is NO WAY that Kristofferson sings "I pulled my harp on out of my dirty red bandanna" as suggested by Nick E in his post above.

He sings "I took my harpoon out of my dirty red bandanna"

Listen to the original here. The line in question is at 0.42.


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Subject: RE: Bobbie McGee's 'harpoon'
From: Don Firth
Date: 28 Apr 10 - 07:13 PM

The image that line always conjured up in my mind was the "bindlestiff," or hobo. Someone bumming around the country. The "bindle" (bundle?) was a cloth, often a bandanna, tied at all four corners and hung on the end of a stick, the stick usually being carried over the shoulder.

Kinda "traditional," really.

CLICKY

Used to see that with some frequency when I was a wee squirt back in the late 1930s living in Pasadena, CA, about a half a block from the railroad tracks. They'd sometimes come to the back door and ask my folks for a hand-out or if they had any work they could do for a meal or a dollar or two. Need any repairs? Mow the lawn?

With this image to go on—a couple young people hoboing their way around the country, carrying bindles containing their miscellaneous possessions—such as a harmonica/mouth harp/"harpoon"—doesn't seem to be much of a stretch.

Especially if that line immediately conjures up that image.

Your mileage may vary.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Bobbie McGee's 'harpoon'
From: GUEST
Date: 16 Jul 13 - 04:35 AM

"I pulled my harp on out of my dirty red bandana" should end this silly thread....


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Subject: RE: Bobbie McGee's 'harpoon'
From: GUEST,henryp
Date: 16 Jul 13 - 05:45 AM

Yes, it's drawing to a close. A few more years and we should reach a conclusion.

On the other hand...


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Subject: RE: Bobbie McGee's 'harpoon'
From: GUEST,Grishka
Date: 16 Jul 13 - 06:18 AM

... why has nobody yet mentioned the evident idea that "bandana" is a slang word for "pants", and the narrator was practicing self-fellatio. Bobbie was SM, the "driver" spanked her with the "windshield wipers", until she "sang the blues". Bottom line: "Nothing left to lues".


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Subject: RE: Bobbie McGee's 'harpoon'
From: breezy
Date: 16 Jul 13 - 08:03 PM

Well for oer 4 decades I been singing 'harp' cos I got it off Grdn Lightfoot on his Sit Down Yg Strgr album, so there, ya boo sucks, move on, who gives a sshight


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Subject: RE: Bobbie McGee's 'harpoon'
From: GUEST
Date: 17 Jul 13 - 12:57 AM

I will never listen to this song in the same way again!


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Subject: RE: Bobbie McGee's 'harpoon'
From: Ron Davies
Date: 17 Jul 13 - 07:22 AM

Well, this erudite discussion sure makes the song a lot more humorous.    And that's always progress.

Now we can discuss why Janis rambled on with na-na-na for half the record. Was she just imitating folkies who forget the words?    Or was she trying to piggyback on "Hey Jude" where the Beatles honor us with similar filler for half the record?


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Subject: RE: Bobbie McGee's 'harpoon'
From: Ron Davies
Date: 17 Jul 13 - 07:23 AM

Of course there were no more words to the song. But that didn't stop either Janis or the Beatles.


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Subject: RE: Bobbie McGee's 'harpoon'
From: Lighter
Date: 17 Jul 13 - 09:27 AM

Hey, everybody! Let's quote Alexander Pope from back in the rockin' 18th Century!

"Men of right understanding generally see all that an author can reasonably mean, but others are apt to fancy two meanings for want of knowing one."


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Subject: RE: Bobbie McGee's 'harpoon'
From: PHJim
Date: 17 Jul 13 - 06:00 PM

The reason Janis sang the "Nananana" words is because she learned it from Kris and that's the way he did it. She may have gone on longer than he did, but she was enthusiastic.
Kris says on his preamble on the original recording, that he wrote it as a country song. That's not how Janis sang it.


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Subject: RE: Bobbie McGee's 'harpoon'
From: GUEST,Grishka
Date: 17 Jul 13 - 06:43 PM

According to Wikipedia, it was Roger Miller who sang the song first, in 1969. YouTube has his interpretation, in a straightforward country style as you would expect. The "nana"s were there alright, and so was the melancholical tone. Nevertheless, it was only Janis Joplin who unleashed the power of the song in 1970: not being "country" in the traditional sense, but a desparate lament for a (perceivedly) lost concept of freedom, genuinely associated with the late 1960s. The fact that she died only a week later sealed the message, for many of us who did not care for country music.

It is remarkable that even at that time, most songs and tales about the new freedom already implied that the era was over, the freedom oppressed, the ideals betrayed, the revolution cancelled, and everybody striving for Mercedes-Benzes. It seems that if the Golden Age ever existed, it could not reach the record studios and radio stations alive.


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Subject: RE: Bobbie McGee's 'harpoon'
From: Rapparee
Date: 17 Jul 13 - 07:01 PM

"Balloon" was another name, especially in the inland Pacific Northwest, for a 'bo's bindle. See Utah Phillips stuff.

I always assumed they were picked up by a ship and were whaling, so it would make sense to "pull my harpoon" through a dirty bandana to clean it off before use. Bobby was singing "the blues" -- that is to say, Blue Whales.


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Subject: RE: Bobbie McGee's 'harpoon'
From: Ron Davies
Date: 18 Jul 13 - 01:11 AM

"Na-na-na....."    Yup, she sure was enthusiastic.

Kris did na-na-na too.    Interesting.    I don't remember that at all, and I have the record.

I thought maybe it was that maybe both Janis and the Beatles realized a high percentage of their listeners would be, uh, high,--and wouldn't notice a thing. Or perhaps it was unreasonable to expect their mental concentration to be equal to anything more complex than "na-na-na..."


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Subject: RE: Bobbie McGee's 'harpoon'
From: GUEST,Grishka
Date: 18 Jul 13 - 05:49 AM

Ron, I think you are quite mistaken about the significance of non-semantic singing or speaking. It can transport complex messages clearly, while escaping word-oriented censorship. The apostle Paul was quite wary of it, for good reasons.

"Hey Jude" was about feeling good in spite of minor obstacles, whereas Janis Joplin sang about the the powers of society crushing a wild desire for freedom. Note the difference to KK's attitude, whose conflict seems to arise from the woman's private wish for the security of a home. There was certainly a gender problem involved, presumably also in the private relationship between JJ and KK.


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Subject: RE: Bobbie McGee's 'harpoon'
From: Ron Davies
Date: 18 Jul 13 - 06:26 PM

Hey, lighten up there, boy.

"transport (sic)--(somehow I think you meant transmit)--complex messages" That's a good one.

"The apostle Paul..."---ah, I think you've got it. He was well known for singing songs, then putting in filler for the last half of the record when he ran out of words.

No wonder he got chased out of so many towns.


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Subject: RE: Bobbie McGee's 'harpoon'
From: PHJim
Date: 18 Jul 13 - 07:18 PM

Ron, was this the record that you have? Kris singing Bobby McGee


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Subject: RE: Bobbie McGee's 'harpoon'
From: Ron Davies
Date: 18 Jul 13 - 08:14 PM

No, this is definitely not it.   This one is live, right? The one I remember was a studio cut. And moved along.

But it was several eons ago.    Maybe the na-na-nas on mine went by faster so the impact wasn't so great.

I'm not a huge fan of nonsense syllables (with some exceptions--the one wonderful one I can think of right off is "Let's Talk Dirty In Hawaiian".    Those are just perfect.)

Course I don't really go for scat singing either.    Somebody called it "The Wreck of the Ella Fitzgerald"

Different strokes.

But I would have chased Paul out of town too when he did the na-na-na's.


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Subject: RE: Bobbie McGee's 'harpoon'
From: PHJim
Date: 18 Jul 13 - 09:57 PM

Ron, I love this one, but I know you'd hate it.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GyDinoBd2yQ


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Subject: RE: Bobbie McGee's 'harpoon'
From: PHJim
Date: 18 Jul 13 - 10:01 PM

or this one: Mike Cross - The Scotsman


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Subject: RE: Bobbie McGee's 'harpoon'
From: PHJim
Date: 18 Jul 13 - 10:03 PM

Sorry, my blue clicky didn't work on the first one.

Pat Sky - Rattlesnake Mountain


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Subject: RE: Bobbie McGee's 'harpoon'
From: Little Hawk
Date: 18 Jul 13 - 10:52 PM

The best versions I ever heard of that song are by Gordon Lightfoot and Kris Kristofferson, respectively. They sing it the way it ought best to be sung. I think Janis Joplin pretty well screwed it up, although hers got the most airplay, so that's how (almost) everyone knows it now.

It obviously means a harmonica...and the reason he said "harpoon" is simple....the word has the right rythm to fit the rest of the lyric line and flow properly, which "harp" does not. "Harpoon" really works perfectly in that line.


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Subject: RE: Bobbie McGee's 'harpoon'
From: Ron Davies
Date: 19 Jul 13 - 12:42 AM

Hey, I have no objection to the "Scotsman"--as entry drug to the hard stuff (more tradiional or less lowest common denominator.) But ask Bill D (and some other posters) about it.   I'll bet a nickel it's high on his "Oh, no, not again" list. It has in fact been done a fair amount--it even seems to be a feature of some Renaissance Fairs in the US (go figger) and an argument could be made that other songs deserve more exposure.

So please don't stop with that song.

And don't forget to check out "Let's Talk Dirty In Hawaiian".    Can't explain it (though maybe it seems more witty than the "Scotsman" for some reason.)   But I love to hear (and sing) that one as many chances as I get. And it's full of nonsense syllables.


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Subject: RE: Bobbie McGee's 'harpoon'
From: Ron Davies
Date: 19 Jul 13 - 12:54 AM

"Rattlesnake Mountain" seems better than "Scotsman".    Maybe it doesn't sound so manufactured--you can imagine mountain folk actually singing it exactly that way.

Then there's the personal bias I have in favor of songs I can imagine myself actually singing.   "Scotsman" does not make the cut; nor does "Rattlesnake".   "Talk Dirty" definitely does.


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Subject: RE: Bobbie McGee's 'harpoon'
From: Ron Davies
Date: 19 Jul 13 - 12:55 AM

YMMV


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Subject: RE: Bobbie McGee's 'harpoon'
From: GUEST,Grishka
Date: 19 Jul 13 - 05:43 AM

LH, yes, JJ indeed changed the meaning of the song, not so much by changing the lyrics, but by the way she sang it, including the na-nas. It struck a chord far beyond the lonesome-cowboy cliché.

KK's Bobby made the narrator choose between love and freedom, so he reluctantly chose the latter. JJ's narrator laments wildly; obviously she had had no choice at all.

"The apostle Paul...": I suspected you would not get that one, Ron. He was opposed to scat singers, but unable to stop them completely in the Corinthian parish. "Indeed, no one understands them; they utter mysteries by the Spirit." What he really meant was: they utter mysteries beyond my control, thus endangering my authority.

Please bear with my English; it is not my mother tongue and no longer what I speak every day. Feel free to correct me.


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Subject: RE: Bobbie McGee's 'harpoon'
From: Little Hawk
Date: 19 Jul 13 - 07:49 AM

Yeah, it's not that I don't see some value in how Janis Joplin did the song. It suits her style. I just don't like it as much as I do the original melancholy approach as done by Lightfoot and Kristofferson.

Sounds like you've got Paul all figured out, Grishka. ;-)


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Subject: RE: Bobbie McGee's 'harpoon'
From: GUEST,Grishka
Date: 19 Jul 13 - 01:32 PM

LH, certainly the author has the first right of interpretation. The song was a favourite of college bedroom sing-arounds for more than a decade, and we sang it more or less as written. Nobody dared, or even would have liked, to imitate JJ.

Nevertheless, she had set the meaning: Freedom had no more been gained by letting Bobby slip away, as in KK's interpretation, but had slipped away simultaneously. Thus the song became political, a counterpart to her famous "Mercedes Benz".


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Subject: RE: Bobbie McGee's 'harpoon'
From: Lighter
Date: 19 Jul 13 - 02:47 PM

If freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose, you ain't free till you're dead.

Less formally, murderers on the lam are often said to have "nothing left to lose." I guess they're free too.

So I've never cared much for the song.


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Subject: RE: Bobbie McGee's 'harpoon'
From: PHJim
Date: 19 Jul 13 - 03:57 PM

Ah yes, the John Prine and Fred Koller (of Night Of The Living Fred fame) tune Let's Talk Dirty... A few years ago at the height of "The Great Ukulele Revival" everybody and his/her brother/sister was singing this one and I was getting sick of it, but it seems to have fallen out of use and, since I haven't sung it or heard anyone else sing it for a while now, maybe I'll give it a go again.

The Scotsman, written by a true Appalachian musician, was very common at bluegrass and folk festivals thirty years ago, but I haven't heard it for years. Bryan Bowers made it quite popular.

I've never heard anyone but Pat Sky do Rattlesnake Mountain.

I love scat though. I'm a John Hendricks and an Ella Fitzgerald fan and Jim Kweskin's scatting on the first Jug Band album was great.

I also like Irish lilting and what folks from the maritimes and Newfoundland call "Jiggin' the tune". "I recall Jamie Snider saying,"If we lacks a fiddle, we just jigs the tune."

Dye-dee-diddle-um
Dum-deedle-diddle-doodle
Dye-dee-diddle-um
Dum-diddle-eye

And I can still recall my dad singing a variation of "Frog Went A-Courtin'" 65 years ago. It ended with:

They paddled off across the lake, "Hey-ho," said Raleigh,
They paddled off across the lake
And got swallowed up by a big black snake
With a rolly-polly, gamin and spinich
"Hey-ho," said Anthony Raleigh.

That was the end of him and her, "Hey-ho," said Raleigh,
Well, that was the end of him and her
Now we won't have tadpoles covered in fur
With a rolly-polly, gamin and spinich
"Hey-ho," said Anthony Raleigh.

Yah, I love those nonsense syllables.


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Subject: RE: Bobbie McGee's 'harpoon'
From: GUEST,Grishka
Date: 19 Jul 13 - 04:41 PM

Lighter, song lyrics can never be philosophical essays. There are many concepts of freedom, and ideas what best to do with it, but there is one thing most philosophers (including Buddha and Paul) agree on: if your heart is tied to some possession that you can lose, you are potentially open to blackmail and thus not free. The lonesome ranger of KK's story is in love with BobbyMG, but when she asks him to offer her a "home", he prefers to let her slip away. That is a private decision and no big deal, just worth a decent country song.

There was a different notion of freedom that was the cause of hot emotions in the USA and western Europe around 1970: opting out of the career treadmill that promises a Mercedes Benz and other status symbols, but expects subordination and self-crippling in return. On top, owners of fancy cars and homes often build high walls aroun their property, with cameras and guards - they build their own prisons. Others buy guns and feel powerful when they are allowed to shoot burglars, while their property is actually seized by their bank.

Becoming a hobo or a terrorist would not solve the problem either, even if these had nothing to lose. Still, I pride myself of having refused a couple of opportunities to become (perhaps) rich, and I know others who did not resist and are acutely unhappy now. It's not all abstract philosophy.


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Subject: RE: Bobbie McGee's 'harpoon'
From: frogprince
Date: 19 Jul 13 - 06:37 PM

Good grief, can't anyone figure out something this simple? Bobbie was roaming around wearing his old bandana as a bikini bottom; it's

"I pulled her poon out of my dirty old bandana".


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Subject: RE: Bobbie McGee's 'harpoon'
From: GUEST,Grishka
Date: 19 Jul 13 - 06:51 PM

No, she wore a slip, until he let it away.


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Subject: RE: Bobbie McGee's 'harpoon'
From: John P
Date: 19 Jul 13 - 07:29 PM

I always thought he didn't so much choose between Bobbie and freedom, but rather just went on with his life when she decided she wanted something different. In my reading of it, he didn't realize how much he missed her until later, when he found that his freedom meant that he'd lost everything.


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Subject: RE: Bobbie McGee's 'harpoon'
From: John P
Date: 19 Jul 13 - 07:36 PM

As for "harpoon", I've always assumed the same as Little Hawk -- KK needed another syllable. "Harpoon" isn't all that much different than other screwed up words that permeate lyrics (especially folk!) in an effort to make the rhythm or rhyme come out right.

Either that, or that's just the way he said the word to himself, like how I always refer to my friend Joyce as "Joysarooni" in my head.


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Subject: RE: Bobbie McGee's 'harpoon'
From: Ron Davies
Date: 20 Jul 13 - 01:07 AM

Well, "Scotsman"   is a fine gateway drug to the hard stuff (traditional folk).   But please don't stop at "Scotsman".      And it has in fact been done a lot (even at US Renaissance festivals--go figger).    By the way, you might not want to ask somebody like Bill D about it--it's likely high on his "oh, no, not again" list, as well as those of quite a few other folkies--who feel that other songs deserve a lot more exposure.

"Rattlesnake Mountain"   is much better;   you can easily imagine it being sung in the Appalachians.

And please don't forget "Talk Dirty".    I like that one a lot more (even though it's composed, it has the hand of a master (John Prine)    It seems much more witty than "Scotsman", maybe since it has lots of syllables which sound like imitation Hawaiian but in fact are mangled but suggestive English.

But I'll admit I'm far more inclined to songs I can actually imagine singing.    "Talk Dirty" is one;   the others are not.


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Subject: RE: Bobbie McGee's 'harpoon'
From: Ron Davies
Date: 20 Jul 13 - 01:10 AM

"not get that one"

Sorry, you're wrong there. I reserve the right to have fun with absurd notions.


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Subject: RE: Bobbie McGee's 'harpoon'
From: Ron Davies
Date: 20 Jul 13 - 01:15 AM

And I reserve the right to repeat myself.   But fortunately-- as far as I know-- you have the right to not read my posts.


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Subject: RE: Bobbie McGee's 'harpoon'
From: Ron Davies
Date: 20 Jul 13 - 01:18 AM

"absurd notions"    Including the right to twist them any way I see fit. (But see immediately above).


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Subject: RE: Bobbie McGee's 'harpoon'
From: GUEST,Grishka
Date: 20 Jul 13 - 08:35 AM

John P (19 Jul 13 - 07:29 PM): quite right. She wanted something different - a home -, not necessarily someone different. And he let her slip away, which suggests that theoretically he could have kept her, e.g. by offering to work for money to provide her a decent family home - traditionally the husband's task. If her decision had been final, the line would be "Then somewhere near Salinas suddenly she slipped away". The main point is that he is free, though not completely happy, without her.

This changes in JJ's version: her narrator, as I explained, had no choice and no longer feels free at all. (She "let him slip away" unintentionally, not in favour of more freedom.) That interpretation stuck. -

Ron, you have the perfect right to make a fool of yourself. If you did not want my explanation, others may have welcomed it. LH (19 Jul 13 - 07:49 AM) understood me alright. BTW, I am by no means the first to have "Paul all figured out" in that sense.


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Subject: RE: Bobbie McGee's 'harpoon'
From: Little Hawk
Date: 20 Jul 13 - 08:55 AM

You're definitely not the first on that, Grishka. As I've said on some other threads, Paul seems to have been a rather odd fellow. I suspect that if I'd been there at the time, I might not have agreed with some of his views on God and humanity. He'd probably have written a sharp letter to me and my friends on the subject. ;-)


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Subject: RE: Bobbie McGee's 'harpoon'
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 20 Jul 13 - 09:40 AM

Why am I reminded of the line about an audience that went to see "Smoky and the Bandit" and then broke up into discussion groups?
Bobbie McGee is a fine song, but it's depth is really on the surface.


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Subject: RE: Bobbie McGee's 'harpoon'
From: Ron Davies
Date: 20 Jul 13 - 10:42 AM

"perfect fool"

So sorry you don't like to be ridiculed yourself.   Parhaps you're still bitter about our last encounter. Not surprising.

You were telling us how a Mexican-American singing the national anthem was an indication of a conspiracy by TV networks.    And several people pointed out your addiction to conspiracy theories. You took objection to this. Wonder why.

And LH's agreement with you on this one will get you a $2 cup of coffee (for $3).

He doesn't like the fact that I have ridiculed his convictions that all the world's problems are due to capitalism and that all political parties are the same.

Thank goodness there are sensible folkies like Bill D and Don Firth.   There are enough who don't qualify.


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Subject: RE: Bobbie McGee's 'harpoon'
From: Ron Davies
Date: 20 Jul 13 - 10:45 AM

"Perhaps you're..."


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Subject: RE: Bobbie McGee's 'harpoon'
From: Little Hawk
Date: 20 Jul 13 - 11:29 AM

Oh, Ron...Ron...you poor, feud-addicted old crab.

I have never said that "all political parties are the same". You just like to think I have, because that satisfies your need for stereotying. I have said that they are all under the influence of people with a great deal of money...and that they therefore cannot be trusted by the general public. That is not to say they all are the same. I think the Republicans are somewhat worse and somewhat loonier than the Democrats, and I think the same about the Conservative Party of Canada vis-a-vis the Liberal Party of Canada and the NDP, etc. That's why I will never vote for the Conservative Party of Canada.

All the same? Hardly! All corrupted to a great extent by the political-financial process? Definitely.

I also don't think capitalism is responsible for ALL the world's problems. Just a great many of them.

Your problem is that your need to carry on pointless, acrimonious feuds with people is immune to any perception of nuance in anything they say. It would not suit your argument.

BillD, on the other hand, is a man with a keen sense of nuance, a man who respects the people he debates with, and is totally worth talking to at all times, because he respects the people he debates with and rises above petty feuds and personal dislikes.

You don't respect the people you debate with, that is patently obvious, and it makes it a waste of time for people to talk with you about anything. You're like the nasty, paranoid little dog that rushes out of its den to snarl and yap: annoying, useless, full of illwill and intent to destroy, impotent to do so, but definitely amusing to the onlooker.


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Subject: RE: Bobbie McGee's 'harpoon'
From: Ron Davies
Date: 20 Jul 13 - 11:43 AM

It is totally absurd that we should be arguing about senses of humor-- of all things. Mine is just as valid as the next person's.    And so, of course, is yours.    So we should be able to live and let live on this one.   After all, neither the definition of folk music nor atheism is involved here.

Is there anything that folkies don't like to debate?


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Subject: RE: Bobbie McGee's 'harpoon'
From: Ron Davies
Date: 20 Jul 13 - 11:48 AM

Excellent, Dick.

I was just recently talking to a former member of the National Symphony (DC) who told me of a former conductor:   "Deep down, he's shallow."


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Subject: RE: Bobbie McGee's 'harpoon'
From: Little Hawk
Date: 20 Jul 13 - 01:02 PM

"Is there anything that folkies don't like to debate?"

Hmm. Good question! I'm really hard put to come up with anything...

Yup, that's a tough one. It's a poser. A conundrum. Sheesh...

Well...how about tiddlywinks? Anyone want to debate the relative merits of "the Grand Game"?


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Subject: RE: Bobbie McGee's 'harpoon'
From: Ron Davies
Date: 20 Jul 13 - 01:52 PM

"feud-addicted".


Physician, heal thyself.


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Subject: RE: Bobbie McGee's 'harpoon'
From: Little Hawk
Date: 20 Jul 13 - 05:20 PM

The way I heal myself is by coming here and getting some good laughs...and generally getting along with other people while doing so....then playing some music and reading a good book. Suggest you do the same.


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Subject: RE: Bobbie McGee's 'harpoon'
From: GUEST,Grishka
Date: 20 Jul 13 - 06:03 PM

Ron, I did not write that you're a perfect fool, I just don't challenge your right to appear like one if you so choose. May each reader judge privately.


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Subject: RE: Bobbie McGee's 'harpoon'
From: Joybell
Date: 20 Jul 13 - 10:14 PM

"Deep down he's shallow" is a line True-love has been using for decades. He came up with it in the 60s. I guess it's to be expected. A good line.
Joy


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Subject: RE: Bobbie McGee's 'harpoon'
From: GUEST,Grishka
Date: 21 Jul 13 - 06:35 AM

Indeed, the lyrics are no great philosophy. The catch lines of the chorus sound like deep wisdom but are not properly worked out. The song was intended as country staple food, almost improvised on the spot. "Hey Kris, we need a song about hitchhikers and sex!" - "OK, let's call it Me and ..., uh ..." - "Why not Babby McKee, that's my secretary." - "I'll be back in an hour."

Songs can strike a chord unintentionally, or perhaps subconsciously, transcending their shallow lyrics. As I wrote before, JJ unleashed this one, so that now it is a plaintive anthem of freedom and love, not freedom vs. love. Simple "na-na"s can do the trick, when sung in a certain manner to a susceptible audience at a particular time. The era was over when in the 1980s different notions of freedom dominated the public consciousness. From time to time, and perhaps increasingly so right now, we must remind ourselves that neither the old nor the newer problems of freedom have been solved to the extent that can realistically be hoped for. (I do not think overthrowing "capitalism" is a realistic concept, but short of that, there is a lot we can and must do.) Janis Joplin has not lost her power, even if her "Mercedes Benz" is now used to advertise those cars!


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Subject: RE: Bobbie McGee's 'harpoon'
From: Ron Davies
Date: 21 Jul 13 - 09:38 AM

LH and Grishka:

One more observation re: "feud-addicted":


You may just possibly have noticed that in this case I attacked neither of you but rather the use of "na-na-na" and similar filler in two big hits. Unless you by some chance have aspirations to form a pro "na-na-na" lobby, you need not have responded at all.

But for some reason you felt the need. So to find the origin of any feuding in this case, you may want to look in your respective mirrors.


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Subject: RE: Bobbie McGee's 'harpoon'
From: GUEST,Grishka
Date: 21 Jul 13 - 11:43 AM

Ron, you wrote about "absurd notions" (20 Jul 13 - 01:10 AM), presumably meaning mine. You claimed to have understood what I wrote, but failed to convince us even of that, let alone about the absurdity of my remarks. Thus you may have made a fool of yourself, as the saying goes. I never call anybody a fool.

Íf you write something like "Grishka, if I understand your comparison correctly to mean ..., it is absurd, because ..." - we may have a good discussion (though only marginally on topic).


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Subject: RE: Bobbie McGee's 'harpoon'
From: Little Hawk
Date: 21 Jul 13 - 05:06 PM

Your comments about how JJ enlarged the meaning of the song are really interesting, Grishka. I'd never thought of it that way, so you've given me a whole new angle from which to consider her rendition. I always thought her version was too over-the-top, but looking at it from your perspective, I get what you're talking about.


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Subject: RE: Bobbie McGee's 'harpoon'
From: Ron Davies
Date: 22 Jul 13 - 09:22 AM

It is beyond absurd, indeed it is surrealistic, to be arguing about senses of humor.

It is baffling that you cannot see this.


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Subject: RE: Bobbie McGee's 'harpoon'
From: Little Hawk
Date: 22 Jul 13 - 09:55 AM

Maybe we just don't feel like arguing about it? ;-)

The most absurd thing I ever saw was one of my Grandmother's hats! She was a very over-dramatic woman who never did things by halves.


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Subject: RE: Bobbie McGee's 'harpoon'
From: GUEST
Date: 22 Jul 13 - 01:23 PM

Ron, if you think your statement of 18 Jul 13 - 06:26 PM was marked by a sophisticated sense of humor, that is indeed a matter of taste and not the subject of any of my comments. What I wanted to hint to you is the fact that you failed to convey the impression to have understood what I was talking about. If you do not deem it worthwhile to find out what a poster really means, best do not comment at all. And if you absolutely insist on taunting a post, make sure your readers get the point exactly, if you value your own reputation.


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Subject: RE: Bobbie McGee's 'harpoon'
From: GUEST,Grishka
Date: 22 Jul 13 - 01:24 PM

(You know who that was.)


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Subject: RE: Bobbie McGee's 'harpoon'
From: Ron Davies
Date: 22 Jul 13 - 10:05 PM

I was enjoying the picture of St. Paul being chased out of Corinth or Ephesus because when singing a song he tended to lapse into "na-na-na", and the listeners got really tired of it.

It seems to me that anybody who objects to this must be a fundamentalist of the most humorless ilk.

And it really doesn't concern me how theologically accurate this picture is.    Somehow I suspect it is indeed not very.


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Subject: RE: Bobbie McGee's 'harpoon'
From: Little Hawk
Date: 23 Jul 13 - 06:46 PM

I think there were probably far more substantial reasons found for chasing Paul of out places like Ephesus and Corinth. ;-)


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Subject: RE: Bobbie McGee's 'harpoon'
From: Little Hawk
Date: 23 Jul 13 - 06:47 PM

correction: out of


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Subject: RE: Bobbie McGee's 'harpoon'
From: Ron Davies
Date: 23 Jul 13 - 10:02 PM

But Corinth and Ephesus were known in St. Paul's time for having very high musical standards.   I think they banned synthesizers too. I'm sure I read that on the Net.


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Subject: RE: Bobbie McGee's 'harpoon'
From: Little Hawk
Date: 23 Jul 13 - 11:03 PM

Well, I should certainly hope they did! And what about banjos? My bet is that Paul played the banjo...but poorly.


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Subject: RE: Bobbie McGee's 'harpoon'
From: Ron Davies
Date: 24 Jul 13 - 12:29 AM

My understanding was that he actually wasn't that bad of a banjo player--he used to play "Dueling Banjos"-- but since there was only one of him, he used to "na-na-na" the other part.

That was a mistake.


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Subject:
From: GUEST
Date: 10 Sep 13 - 12:46 AM


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Subject: RE: Bobbie McGee's 'harpoon'
From: GUEST,Dave
Date: 14 Sep 13 - 03:20 PM

My College history professor in the late 70s used to frequently quote "Freedom's just another word for nothin' left to lose." His point was that most revolutions in world history have been initiated by folks who are so poor, with such poor prospects for improvement of their own life or their children's that they feel they have nothing left to lose, and thus, are truly free. They can do anything without worry of the worst consequence (generally the loss of their own life). Put a well maintained army against a population who is not afraid to die, and I'll bet on the population most of the time.
Now, of course, reading an interview with KK:
Interview
I see he meant something almost completely different.


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Subject: RE: Bobbie McGee's 'harpoon'
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 14 Sep 13 - 09:22 PM

Well, that's the meaning of the old logan "Workers of the world, unite, you have nothing to lose but your chains."

But in fact the truth seems a bit different when it comes to actual revolutions. They seem to kick off not when people are totally destutute, but rather when things have been fetting better in some ways, and the possibility opens up that they actually could change more. Especially when at that point there is a threat they will get worse, to set things off.

As for the song, I don't think it's about making choices or freedom as such. It's more about the way things happen in our lives, and how you can wish they might have worked out differently.


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Subject: RE: Bobbie McGee's 'harpoon'
From: GUEST,Mike
Date: 15 Sep 13 - 07:02 AM

Back to Me and Bobby McGee, the story behind the song (or the title, at least) for anyone who hasn't heard it:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w_wtuCO82vA


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Subject: RE: Bobbie McGee's 'harpoon'
From: meself
Date: 15 Sep 13 - 10:22 AM

Not much of a story, is it? (Until Janis Joplin enters - and departs).


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Subject: RE: Bobbie McGee's 'harpoon'
From: Amos
Date: 15 Sep 13 - 11:28 AM

The ad hominem post, like the ad hominem argument, is of very little value and less merit, depriving the forum of oxygen and adding unnecessary heat without adding light.

A


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Subject: RE: Bobbie McGee's 'harpoon'
From: GUEST,Mike B. in Oshawa
Date: 24 Oct 13 - 12:57 PM

"Harpoon" most definitely refers to a harmonica,however in order to make sense of this, the original intent was probably " I took a harp-tune out of my dirty red bandana". This is an awkward lyric to sing so it gets slurred for artistic simplicity. Sort of like pulling a tune out from under your hat. Love it.


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Subject: RE: Bobbie McGee's 'harpoon'
From: PHJim
Date: 24 Oct 13 - 03:46 PM

I enjoy listening to Janis's interpretation of the song, but I don't think she added anything new to the meaning of the song. I've enjoyed many singers' renditions of Kris's song and I certainly don't consider Janis's version to be the definitive one, just one of many great interpretations.


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Subject: RE: Bobbie McGee's 'harpoon'
From: Don Firth
Date: 24 Oct 13 - 03:51 PM

I heard harmonicas or "mouth harps" sometimes referred to as "harpoons" long before I heard the song.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Bobbie McGee's 'harpoon'
From: GUEST,Phil d'Conch
Date: 18 Sep 17 - 04:00 AM

Boy you guys sure covered some ground on this one didn't you?

I'd be interested in any pre-1960s harmonica-harpoon references. Ever Hohner doesn't know where it came from. Most everybody I know thinks it was coined by KK's Monument (ie: Foster's) labelmate Charlie McCoy a few years before Bobbie McGee was written.

And it's not just any harmonica. It's a Hohner Marine Band.

Thought Gibb would have chimed in on "bandanna" by now. It's a Luso-Indian word for a head dress brought to the West by the Portuguese. A "kerchief" is the same deal, on a different ocean (see also Portuguese East India Company and 4:5 Tommy Chong pictures.)

If you tie it to a stick or use it to wipe your nose it becomes a handkerchief.


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Subject: RE: Bobbie McGee's 'harpoon'
From: GUEST,henryp
Date: 18 Sep 17 - 07:01 AM

Harpoon Man by Charlie McCoy and the Escorts; Monument 1965

Harpoon Man


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Subject: RE: Bobbie McGee's 'harpoon'
From: GUEST
Date: 18 Sep 17 - 10:11 AM

Just a minor point of order, Mr Chairman, but it wasn't Bobbie McGee's "harpoon" as stated in the misleading thread title. The instrument in question, whatever it was, clearly belonged to the narrator and not to Ms McGee.


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Subject: RE: Bobbie McGee's 'harpoon'
From: Mr Red
Date: 19 Sep 17 - 03:58 AM

more minor pedantry:

Larry Adler played harmonica,

I think he always insisted he played a mouth organ - certainly in a BBC radio documentary of him he was recorded saying it. He made a distinction.


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Subject: RE: Bobbie McGee's 'harpoon'
From: GUEST,Desi C
Date: 19 Sep 17 - 05:29 AM

No, it's not a Harmonica, it is in fact A 'Jew's harp' or a very similar instrument played in the mouth


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Subject: RE: Bobbie McGee's 'harpoon'
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 19 Sep 17 - 06:29 AM

you are obviously all missing the third verse where Bobby spots the whale she has been endlessly searching the byways of America for.

There is a life changing struggle somewhere near Salinas. Bobby is lost overboard - slips away despite Kris's brave efforts. However the whale is mortally wounded. They have proved each others nemesis.

I always had the feeling Kristoferson stole the plot from somewhere.


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Subject: RE: Bobbie McGee's 'harpoon'
From: GUEST,Phil d'Conch
Date: 19 Sep 17 - 10:24 AM

Desi: No, it's not a Harmonica, it is in fact A 'Jew's harp' or a very similar instrument played in the mouth

Depends on the singer, JJ (best known) or KK (original) -

JJ: "I was playin' soft while Bobby sang the blues, yeah."

Jew's harp might fit the lyric, the blues... not so much. imo JJ is more honkytonk than country blues. Great band though.

KK: "Was blowin' sad while Bobby sang the blues."

Blowing sad blues on a Jew's harp? How to? Blues need limber reeds that one does not have to chuff 200kPa to bend a note. That's a Hohner Marine or Blues band for country folk on a budget.


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Subject: RE: Bobbie McGee's 'harpoon'
From: GUEST,Desi C
Date: 20 Sep 17 - 03:20 AM

From: GUEST,Phil d'Conch
WHALE!? Where does a whale come into it! Am totally missing something?


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Subject: RE: Bobbie McGee's 'harpoon'
From: GUEST,Phil d'Conch
Date: 20 Sep 17 - 03:28 AM

Desi: You'd think it would hard to miss an Al named "Big"...


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Subject: RE: Bobbie McGee's 'harpoon'
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 20 Sep 17 - 04:53 AM

well there were a lot of drugs around in those days....


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Subject: RE: Bobbie McGee's 'harpoon'
From: GUEST,Grishka
Date: 20 Sep 17 - 07:09 AM

@Desi: According to the ever authoritative Big Whal Ittle,
  1. the narrator was a former whaler
  2. who kept a little harpoon in his "bandana" – presumably a small red suitcase meant for band-aids and other medical stuff.
  3. Being on drugs, he spied a whale on the Mississippi and uncased his harpoon, shouting "Thar she's blowing!" – sad!
  4. while Bobby, realizing that her friend was hopelessly hallucinating, sang the blues and eventually slipped away.
Easy, innit?


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Subject: RE: Bobbie McGee's 'harpoon'
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 20 Sep 17 - 01:32 PM

i think that much is pretty clear.


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Subject: RE: Bobbie McGee's 'harpoon'
From: GUEST
Date: 20 Sep 17 - 07:21 PM

"Thar she's blowing!" ????

Is it "Talk Like a Whaler" day?


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Subject: RE: Bobbie McGee's 'harpoon'
From: GUEST,Guest
Date: 24 Sep 17 - 03:59 AM

I've heard this parody credited to a number of different sources, but I got it from some guys in a Sydney band I was filling in with back in the 1980s. A trifle dated and in dubious taste, but make of it what you will. Should the authors wish to acknowledge their sin, or be offended by its publication here, please let admin know. I shall not name them.

The story they told me was that it was written after a gig where an audience member got stuck up them about the "harpoon" thing. After smacking him around a bit, they decided that, in retrospect, he had a point, so after scraping him up off the floor, bought him a beer and some sticking plasters, and agreed to change the offending word to "didgeridoo" for future gigs. While they were at it, they thought that they might Australianise the entire song too.

Enjoy, ignore or report/delete. Your call....


ME AND CHERYL McGRAW

Busted flat in Wollongong, waiting for the bus
Feeling crap, and vomit on my jeans
Cheryl flagged a Holden down, riddled full of rust
Took us all the way to Narrabeen
I pulled my didgeridoo out of my Eastern Suburbs t-shirt
Was blowing hard while Cheryl combed her hair
With the windscreen wipers slapping time, I got hung up on the thirteenth line
Of the seventeenth verse of Advance Ausrtralia Fair

Freedom's just another word for being unemployed
The dole it ain't worth nothing, but it's free
Feeling good was easy, Lord, with a stubby in my paw
Feeling good was good enough for sure
As long as I was feeling Cheryl McGraw

From the coal mines of Mt Kembla, to the Sydney Harbour Bridge
Cheryl shared my chicko roll and prawns
Standing right beside me, Lord, sometimes on my foot
Playing Holy Jesus with my corns
But somewhere down near Blues Point Road I let her slip away
With a long haired yuppee poofter from Balmain
And I'd swap my stack of roaches and my Kylie autograph
For another night with Cheryl's sister Jane


(There you go. Not a harpoon (or whale) in sight....)


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Subject: RE: Bobbie McGee's 'harpoon'
From: GUEST,Guest
Date: 24 Sep 17 - 07:08 AM

Penultimate line, typo, should read "stash", not stack.


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Subject: RE: Bobbie McGee's 'harpoon'
From: GUEST,Ebor Fiddler
Date: 26 Sep 17 - 08:46 PM

All this fuss about a gob-iron!


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