Suggest a Songfact / Artistfact
Album: PearlReleased: 1971
Joplin got the idea for this song after riding in Bobby Womack's new Mercedes 600. Womack was having success as a songwriter, and Joplin commissioned him to write a song for her Pearl album, which turned out to be "Trust Me." According to Womack, when he took Janis for a ride, she started singing: "Lord, won't you buy me a Mercedez Benz..."
Janis Joplin is from Port Arthur, Texas, a small city close to the gulf, near the Louisiana border. In the second verse, "Dialing for Dollars is trying to find me," "Dialing for Dollars" refers to an old segment on the news for the local NBC station. It was a game where you had the chance to win money. (thanks, Tracy - Beaumont, TX)
Joplin sang this a cappella. She introduced it on the recording by saying: "I'd like to do a song of great social and political import."
This was recorded on October 1, 1970. If Joplin had lived, they may have added instruments to it before releasing it, but Joplin died 3 days later.
Joplin wrote this with a poet named Michael McClure. It is a social commentary on how many people relate happiness and self-worth with money and material possessions.
In the '90s, Mercedes used this in commercials for their cars. It was one of the great misappropriations of a song in a commercial, as Joplin's song was meant to convey the message that owning a luxury automobile does not make you a better person. Joplin's stepsister owned the rights to the song and allowed Mercedes to use it.
Janis Joplin never got a Mercedes Benz, but she did have a 1965 Porsche that was painted to become a piece of hippie art.