The song’s original version depicted Bobby as a woman. However, Joplin, who was a good friend of Kristofferson (some even speculated she was his lover) when she was starting as a singer until her untimely demise, changed Bobby’s sex and also changed some lyrics in the version of her song.
The title of the song actually came from Fred Foster, noted music producer and founder of Monument Records. One day, he called up Kristofferson and suggested that the title be “Me and Bobby McKee.” Kristofferson thought he meant “McGee.”
If you are wondering who Bobby McKee was, she worked as a secretary of Boudleaux Bryant, who at that time was with Fred in the same building. Kristofferson later learned that McKee was a she.
The original song talks about two drifters in a road story, the narrator and his girlfriend, McGee. In Joplin’s version, McGee was her boyfriend. The narrator in the song talks about a diesel truck and then later singing with its driver as they travel. The narrator and his girlfriend travel all the way to California, becoming more intimate along the way and helping each other as they struggle through life’s hardships. By the final verse, McGee gets tired of their lives on the road and ultimately chooses to settle down.
McGee then amicably separates with the narrator in the song. The narrator continues his road lifestyle, and while his life may never be the same without her, the narrator says he would consider trading his life to be with McGee even for just a day.