Now Janis is a friend of the Mercedes Benz

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The Independent Online
IS NOTHING sacred? For years Janis Joplin's ballad about a Mercedes Benz stood as a symbol of the Sixties counter-culture, a satirical attack on a world governed by possessions and profits. Not any more (man), writes Phil Reeves.

Twenty-five years after she died from a heroin overdose, the rock 'n roll idol is promoting the same vehicle her song sought to depict as the epitome of materialism.

Hoping to attract 30-somethings, Mercedes-Benz is using it in a television advertisement for its luxury $30,000 (£19,000) C-Class and $41,000 E-Class sedans.

"Oh, Lord, won't you buy me a Mercedes Benz?," sings Joplin, as the German cars cruise around the countryside. "My friends all drive Porsches/I must make amends/Worked hard all my lifetime/ No help from my friends/ So, Lord, won't you buy me a Mercedes Benz."

Lowe & Partners/SMS, the New York agency behind the ad, will not say how much was paid to Joplin's estate and Sony Music Entertainment for the one-year rights. But its chairman, Lee Garfinkel, is quick to defend the decision: "The song has an ironic twist, and the last time I checked, irony was a good way of advertising something."

However, Joplin fans should think twice before they dig out their bell- bottoms and beads and march on the nearest Mercedes plant to defend this icon of their youth. Lyric writer Bob Neuwirth helped Joplin write "Mercedes Benz" in a tavern between shows. And he is ... well, totally cool about the whole deal. "It was never meant to be taken seriously," he said recently. Don't forget, he pointed out, Janis owned a Porsche.