Seems like another lifetime ago when I first heard this song.
It still gives me the chills.
Whatever happened to Bobbie Gentry?
"Ode To Billie Joe" was written by "newcomer" Bobbie Gentry and released by Capitol Records in 1967.
Like The Kingston Trio's "Tom Dooley", Bobbie's song to "Billie Joe" had to do with death...and became a "major hit" accidentally.
Bobbie Gentry initially recorded "Mississippi Delta" as a 45rpm "Side A" single to be played on radio stations.
Producer Kelly Gordon decided to go with Bobbie Gentry's "Demo" for Capitol Records entitled "Ode To Billie Joe".... as the 45rpm single's "Side B".
To add some musical depth to the "Demo" (which featured Bobbie Gentry singing while strumming on her guitar)....
producer Kelly Gordon hired Jimmie Haskell to include some orchestra arrangements.
Remember Jimmie Haskell? Capitol Records hired him to overdub The Kingston Trio's "Something Special" album (1962)....
with orchestral arrangements and backup female vocals.
Anyhow, as stated previously, "Ode To Billie Joe" became a #1 hit accidentally and by extraordinary good luck. This happened when DJ's (Disc-Jockeys) decided to play "Side B" of Bobbie Gentry's 45rpm single...instead of "Mississippi Delta".
Ode To Billie Joe
The song begins on June 3rd and comes across in the form of a first-person narrative, sung by the young daughter of a Mississippi Delta family.
It offers fragments of a dinnertime conversation on the day a local boy, Billie Joe McAllister, jumped off the Tallahatchie Bridge.
Reporters asked Bobbie Gentry what the song is about? Suicide; the reason? OR....
what the young girl and Billie Joe was throwing off the Bridge....earlier that day?
Bobbie Gentry snapped back.....
"The song is about apathy. Sure, there's a suicide of a young boy. And it's got nothing to do with what Billie Joe or that girl he's with is throwing off the Bridge.
I don't even know what it was. Some folks tell me it could've been a stillborn baby or perhaps a ring, but when I wrote the song, it wasn't all that important.
The song is a study of unconscious cruelty. Listen to the dinnertime conversation."
>> Dinnertime Conversation at Billie Joe's Girlfriend's House Brucester
Seems like nuthin' ever comes to no good up on Choctaw Ridge,
And now Billie Joe McAllister jumped off the Tallahatchie Bridge.
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