"Poor Poor Pitiful Me" is a rock song written and originally recorded by 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.
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 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. 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 and number 31 in Billboard.
|Canadian RPM Adult Contemporary Tracks||9|
|Canadian RPM Country Tracks||36|
|Canadian RPM Top Singles||31|
|U.S. Billboard Hot Country Singles||46|
|U.S. Billboard Easy Listening||27|
|U.S. Billboard Hot 100||31|
|U.S. Cash Box Top 100||26|
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."
"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.
The music video was directed by Deaton Flanigen and premiered in late 1996.
|Canada Country Tracks (RPM)||1|
|US Bubbling Under Hot 100 Singles (Billboard)||9|
|US Hot Country Songs (Billboard)||5|
|Canada Country Tracks (RPM)||43|
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|RPM Country Tracks
December 9, 1996
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by Michelle Wright
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