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The Poetics of American Song Lyrics$
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Charlotte Pence

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9781617031564

Published to University Press of Mississippi: March 2014

DOI: 10.14325/mississippi/9781617031564.001.0001

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Thoughts on “Me and Bobby Mcgee” And the Oral and Literary Traditions

Thoughts on “Me and Bobby Mcgee” And the Oral and Literary Traditions

(p.193) Thoughts on “Me and Bobby Mcgee” And the Oral and Literary Traditions
The Poetics of American Song Lyrics

David Daniel

University Press of Mississippi

While pursuing his Masters in English Literature as a Rhodes Scholar at Merton College, Oxford, Kris Kristofferson began writing songs. His compositions provide an ideal opportunity to examine the relation between traditional poetry and popular song of the rock and roll era. This chapter analyzes one of Kristofferson’s songs, “Me and Bobby McGee,” in the context of both oral and literary traditions. It considers the song as an example of the traditional ballad form and suggests that is remarkably compressed in its storytelling, thus creating precisely the sort of mystery and richness that lies at the heart of all literary tragedy.

Keywords:   songs, Kris Kristofferson, poetry, rock and roll, Bobby McGee, oral tradition, literary tradition, ballad, storytelling, literary tragedy

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