By Wayne Francis
An interesting thing happened in the wake of Lightfoot's Reprise debut album Sit Down Young Stranger. The record company arranged a tour of radio stations for Lightfoot to promote the first single from the album, "Me And Bobby McGee". Lightfoot was skeptical of the idea but reluctantly agreed.
The first stop was Detroit. The first interview lasted only 5 munites and the single didn't even get mentioned. On the second stop, they played the single and Lightfoot heard for the first time that WB's had remixed the song, adding piano in the first verse. Lightfoot later said, "They went and put some piano on it and they ruined the whole damned thing! I didn't know whether we'd make Top-40 on this or not - I sure don't think we will. I don't like the mix on the single. I think they blew it. After today, my philosophy is gonna change a bit. You know, if a single breaks, it just happens and there's nothing you can do to make it happen."
Of course, Lightfoot was proven correct in the very near future. Me And Bobby McGee, remixed and marketed on the record company's terms, didn't do much on the charts, but later that fall If You Could Read My Mind broke just as Lightfoot envisioned a single might break and he was redeemed. No more press junkets or solicitation of radio programmers by Lightfoot. He would place his concentration on the music, where it should be, and hits would continue to take care of themselves.
The Lightfoot press tour for Me And Bobby McGee was scheduled to continue on to Windsor, Chicago, Washington, New York and Boston. He went as far as Chicago, but no word is available if it continued to the last stop of the tour.
As an aside to what Lightfoot said about the piano that was added to the Me And Bobby McGee single, he was absolutely right, it was poorly conceived and performed and has a very "tacked on" feel to it that doesn't blend at all with the track. It comes in halfway through the first verse and thankfully doesn't extend into the second verse. The remixed single also has the percussive handclaps a little higher in the mix, which doesn't interfere in the way the piano part does.