Deep Cuts From 1971: ‘Mercedes Benz’- Janis Joplin. The b-side of the ‘Cry Baby’ single- ‘Mercedes Benz’ has become over the years one of Janis Joplin’s most famous songs. Janis Joplin recorded this song for what became her Pearl album- only three days before her death in October 1970.
The song’s lyrics were written at Vahsen’s, a Port Chester, New York bar, on August 8, 1970, during an impromptu poetry jam between Joplin and songwriter 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 .Bobby Womack asserts in his autobiography that Joplin was inspired to come up with the lyrics after going for a ride with him in his new Mercedes-Benz 600.