Poor Poor Pitiful Me

"Poor Poor Pitiful Me" is a rock song written and first recorded by American musician Warren Zevon in 1976. It is best known as one of Linda Ronstadt's signature hits. Country music singer Terri Clark scored a Top Five hit in 1996 with her own cover of the song. There have also been many other versions of this song.

"Poor Poor Pitiful Me"
Song by Warren Zevon
from the album Warren Zevon
Released 1976
Genre Rock, Country rock
Length 3:04
Label Asylum
Songwriter(s) Warren Zevon
Producer(s) Jackson Browne

Warren Zevon version


In keeping with Warren Zevon's sardonic lyrical style, the song's verses deal with a failed suicide, domestic abuse, and a brush with sadomasochism. The song first appeared on Zevon's 1976 self-titled solo album. It is reputed to be a friendly swipe at Jackson Browne, whose songs (such as "Here Come Those Tears Again" and "Sleep's Dark and Silent Gate" from The Pretender) could be quite dark.

The song "Poor Poor Pitiful Me" was produced by Jackson Browne and was featured on Zevon's eponymous 1976 album Warren Zevon with backing vocals by Lindsey Buckingham. The track was later included on his greatest hits compilations A Quiet Normal Life (1986), I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead (1996), and Genius: The Best of Warren Zevon (2002). Live versions appeared on 1980s Stand in the Fire and 1993’s Learning to Flinch. Alternate studio versions were included in the 2008 reissue of Warren Zevon, as well as the posthumous 2007 compilation Preludes: Rare and Unreleased Recordings.

Linda Ronstadt version

"Poor Poor Pitiful Me"
Poor Poor Pitiful Me - Linda Ronstadt
Single by Linda Ronstadt
from the album Simple Dreams
B-side "Simple Man Simple Dream" (or "Blue Bayou")
Released January 10, 1978
Format 7" vinyl
Genre Rock, country rock
Length 3:42
Label Asylum 45462
Songwriter(s) Warren Zevon
Producer(s) Peter Asher
Linda Ronstadt singles chronology
"It's So Easy"
"Poor Poor Pitiful Me"
"Tumbling Dice"


Linda Ronstadt recorded a gender-altered version of the song during 1977. Ronstadt would recall Jackson Browne had pitched "Poor Poor Pitiful Me" to her, teaching it to her in the living room of her Malibu home.[1] "The verse in “Poor Pitiful Me” was “I met a girl on the Sunset Strip,” I think, “She asked me if I’d beat her / She took me up to her hotel room / And wrecked my mojo heater.” It was really funny, and I’m saying to Jackson, “I can’t sing those words, man! That’s not who I am. . . . I have to leave that part out.”[2] Ronstadt's interpretation was produced by Peter Asher for her multi-platinum album Simple Dreams. Ronstadt’s live version appeared on the soundtrack album to the smash 1978 movie FM, while the studio version was included on her platinum-plus album Greatest Hits, Volume 2.


Released as a single (on the Asylum label at the beginning of 1978, Ronstadt's version was the week's highest debut on the Billboard Hot 100 chart the week of January 28, 1978. It reached number 26 on the Cash Box Top 100[3] and number 31 in Billboard.

Chart performance

Chart (1978) Peak
Canadian RPM Adult Contemporary Tracks 9
Canadian RPM Country Tracks 36
Canadian RPM Top Singles 31
US Hot Country Songs (Billboard)[4] 46
U.S. Billboard Easy Listening 27
US Billboard Hot 100[5] 31
U.S. Cash Box Top 100[3] 26

Terri Clark version

"Poor Poor Pitiful Me"
Single by Terri Clark
from the album Just the Same
B-side "Something You Should've Said"[6]
Released September 23, 1996
Format CD single
Genre Country
Length 3:10
Label Mercury
Songwriter(s) Warren Zevon
Producer(s) Keith Stegall
Chris Waters
Terri Clark
Terri Clark singles chronology
"Suddenly Single"
"Poor Poor Pitiful Me"
"Emotional Girl"


Another hit cover version of the song was recorded by Canadian country singer Terri Clark. It was released in September 1996 as the lead single from her second album, 1996's Just the Same. Clark told Billboard magazine that she heard Linda Ronstadt's version of the song in a local gymnasium while she was exercising. She said "and I thought, what a cool song. What a great country record that could make. I started doing it live, and it worked."[7]


"Poor Poor Pitiful Me" debuted at number 47 on the U.S. Billboard Hot Country Singles & Tracks for the week of October 12, 1996. Clark's version was a number one hit on the Canadian RPM country charts, and a number five hit on the country charts in the U.S.

Music video

The music video was directed by Deaton Flanigen and premiered in late 1996.

Chart performance

Chart (1996) Peak
Canada Country Tracks (RPM)[8] 1
US Bubbling Under Hot 100 Singles (Billboard)[9] 9
US Hot Country Songs (Billboard)[10] 5

Year-end charts

Chart (1996) Position
Canada Country Tracks (RPM)[11] 43

Other versions

  • In 1986, SNFU did a hardcore punk cover of the song on the compilation It Came from the Pit.
  • In 2003 Anne Louise Blythe covered it for Nashville Star: The Finalists.
  • Vitamin String Quartet recorded a instrumental version of the song on Dad Get Me Out of This: The String Quartet Tribute to Warren Zevon in 2003.
  • In 2003 The Lonestar Ladies did the song on A Tribute to Terri Clark.
  • In 2004 Jackson Browne and Bonnie Raitt covered it on Enjoy Every Sandwich: The Songs of Warren Zevon.
  • In 2005 Tim Crouch, Randy Kohrs, Larry Richardson, Kurt Mason and Bo Baseman covered it for Pickin’ to Kill: Pickin’ On Terri Clark: A Bluegrass Tribute.


  1. ^ Ronstadt, Linda (2013). Simple Dreams: a musical memoir (1st hardcover ed.). New York: Simon & Schuster. p. 63. ISBN 978-1-4516-6872-8.
  2. ^ Maiscott, Mary Lyn. "Linda Ronstadt: I Know When Parkinson's Hit from Listening to My Own Singing". Vanity Fair. Retrieved 2018-03-26.
  3. ^ a b "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2015-05-25. Retrieved 2015-05-25.
  4. ^ "Linda Ronstadt Chart History (Hot Country Songs)". Billboard.
  5. ^ "Linda Ronstadt Chart History (Hot 100)". Billboard.
  6. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2008). Hot Country Songs 1944 to 2008. Record Research, Inc. pp. 95–96. ISBN 0-89820-177-2.
  7. ^ Billboard, October 5, 1996
  8. ^ "Top RPM Country Tracks: Issue 9900." RPM. Library and Archives Canada. December 9, 1996. Retrieved July 20, 2013.
  9. ^ "Terri Clark Chart History (Bubbling Under Hot 100)". Billboard.
  10. ^ "Terri Clark Chart History (Hot Country Songs)". Billboard.
  11. ^ "RPM Top 100 Country Tracks of 1996". RPM. December 16, 1996. Retrieved July 20, 2013.

External links

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