Freedom and Bobby McGee


Freedom’s just another word for nothin’ left to lose sung by Janis Joplin.

It struck me as funny that this song came to mind this week.

(Interesting note…“Me and Bobby McGee” is a song written by American singer-songwriter Kris Kristofferson and originally performed by Roger Miller.)

And of course when you’re all about being free like I am, what shows up?…more FREEDOM!

  • Freedom issues
  • Freedom struggles
  • Freedom images

…and freedom songs!

Here are the lyrics to this song and my take on them.

“Freedom’s just another word for nothin’ left to lose
Nothin’, don’t mean nothin’ hon’ if it ain’t free, no no
And, feelin’ good was easy, Lord, when he sang the blues
You know, feelin’ good was good enough for me
Good enough for me and my Bobby McGee”

When I see the words to this song, it makes me think that it is about being free from stuff.

People, places, and most importantly, things.

And this writer feels they have “nothin’ left to lose” which sounds more like a desperate cry for help than the path to freedom. 

People have been analyzing the song for years and interpreted it this way…

  • free to rebel against your parents
  • free to turn on, tune in, drop out (Timothy O’Leary)
  • free love
  • freedom to dump your lover
  • freedom without love (pain)
  • freedom to marry, have kids, buy a house and work hard to pay off the mortgage
  • freedom to curse Kim Jong-un before being executed
  • freedom to take responsibility … our right to self-determination is ultimately the right to take responsibility (Noel Pearson)

Freedom is not even a conversation when “you’ve got nothin’ left to lose”.

But if you’ve got nothing left to lose there is nothing to get free from!

A perfect example of a lack of freedom is how we are affected by the current pandemic.
We have learned that we have a lot to lose and freedom is high up on that list. 

Since this pandemic started…

  • We have lost loved ones.
  • We have lost income.
  • We have lost jobs.

So when Janis sings about nothing left to lose, it’s actually the opposite…

…we have everything to lose!

The song shares an experience of not being free, of bondage because we are attached to things, or to people.

More accurately, we are attached to things or people that we may lose and that we desperately hang on to.

If we are free from attachments to such things in this world, we will experience true freedom.
I believe our Buddhist friends may have a good bit of wisdom to impart on this idea.

To me being free means being all the things you need to be without shortchanging others in your life or shortchanging yourself. It’s something I share in my community and my program.

It means having people in your life that you do NOT want to lose.
It means having time, money, location, mindset, and self-expression at your disposal.

More importantly it is about being shackled and freedom is about lack of shackles.

I’m looking for people like you who are so shackled that they are giving up one side of their life for another.
People who want to be FREE!

Free to enjoy the milestones, events, and opportunities that life has to offer.
People who want to enjoy life NOW, not when it’s the right time or worse yet, at retirement.

The song leads into a direction that expresses the need and joy of being free which is exactly what we need.

We need more life experiences and memories not just things in our homes and lives that say we’ve made it. 

To me true freedom is less about what we have and more about what we have experienced.

What would more freedom mean to you?
What things are you ready and willing to let go of?
What experiences would you like to have? 

And the biggest question, who is this Bobby McGee? 🙂

Please share your thoughts about these questions and your freedom thoughts as a post here on the blog or in our Facebook community.

But above all, remember what it is you really want freedom for!