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Lyr Req: Ode to Billie Joe (Bobbie Gentry)

Related thread:
(origins) Talahassie bridge/Tallahatchie Bridge (62)


bo Vandenberg 23 Apr 97 - 12:44 AM
Gene Graham 23 Apr 97 - 02:15 AM
Gene Graham 23 Apr 97 - 02:19 AM
Bo Vandenberg 23 Apr 97 - 12:35 PM
ptimmerman@ifias.ca 23 Apr 97 - 01:48 PM
belter 23 Apr 97 - 05:17 PM
Peter Timmerman 23 Apr 97 - 06:36 PM
Peter Timmerman 23 Apr 97 - 08:19 PM
Gene Graham 23 Apr 97 - 09:06 PM
GUEST,noam_l@inter.net.il 02 Jul 01 - 02:52 AM
catspaw49 02 Jul 01 - 03:02 AM
Noreen 02 Jul 01 - 07:24 AM
catspaw49 02 Jul 01 - 08:54 AM
53 02 Jul 01 - 08:29 PM
catspaw49 02 Jul 01 - 08:34 PM
Kaleea 03 Jul 01 - 01:32 AM
catspaw49 03 Jul 01 - 01:40 AM
Rt Revd Sir jOhn from Hull 26 Nov 02 - 03:22 AM
GUEST 08 Sep 06 - 09:47 PM
GUEST 09 Sep 06 - 12:25 AM
ClaireBear 09 Sep 06 - 02:04 AM
GUEST 06 Oct 06 - 10:47 PM
catspaw49 06 Oct 06 - 11:46 PM
GUEST,rachel smith 13 Apr 09 - 12:39 AM
Pete Jennings 13 Apr 09 - 08:50 AM
GUEST,TJ in San Diego 13 Apr 09 - 04:48 PM
GUEST,treefrogdemon 17 Apr 09 - 10:25 AM
GUEST,Cliff 11 Jul 10 - 03:35 PM
Jim Dixon 13 Jul 10 - 04:32 PM
Jim Dixon 11 Sep 13 - 04:00 PM
Songwronger 13 Jul 14 - 11:01 PM
PHJim 14 Jul 14 - 12:00 AM
Q (Frank Staplin) 14 Jul 14 - 12:34 PM
GUEST,CoriSCapnSkip 09 Jun 16 - 03:48 AM
GUEST,CoriSCapnSkip 09 Jun 16 - 05:02 AM
GUEST,Ebor Fiddler 09 Jun 16 - 07:29 AM
mkebenn 09 Jun 16 - 09:05 AM
mkebenn 09 Jun 16 - 09:09 AM
MickyMan 09 Jun 16 - 05:11 PM
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Subject: lyrics ? Jumped off a bridge
From: bo Vandenberg
Date: 23 Apr 97 - 12:44 AM

This has been bugging me for a week or more. Its a relatively well known song about someone jumping off a bridge. I've only heard bits or rip offs and I want to see the real lyrics.

I think it might be Tallahassee bridge.

any help would be appreciated

-bo


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Subject: RE: lyrics ? Jumped off a bridge
From: Gene Graham
Date: 23 Apr 97 - 02:15 AM

It was 1967 when Bobbie Gentry sang "The Ode to Billie Joe."


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Subject: RE: lyrics ? Jumped off a bridge
From: Gene Graham
Date: 23 Apr 97 - 02:19 AM

The "Ode to Billie Joe" by Bobbie Gentry in 1967 - you can find the lyrics/chords at http://www.roughstock.com/cowpie under g/gentry...


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Subject: Chords Add: ODE TO BILLIE JOE (Bobbie Gentry)
From: Bo Vandenberg
Date: 23 Apr 97 - 12:35 PM

Thanx for the title! I checked cowpie and found....

ODE TO BILLIE JOE
Key of F, Common Time "With a beat"
Words and music by Bobbie Gentry

            F7
It was the third of June,
Cm7 F7
Another sleepy, dusty, Delta day.
F7
I was out choppin' cotton
Cm7 F7
And my brother was bailin' hay
Bb7
And at dinner time we stopped and walked back to the house to eat
F7
And Mama hollered at the back door,
Cm7 F7
"Y'all remember to wipe your feet."
Bb7
Then she said,

"I got some news this mornin' from Choctaw Ridge
F7
Today Billie Joe McAllister
Eb7 F
Jumped off the Tallahatchie Bridge."

is this it? Are there more verses?

HTML line breaks and preformat commands added. --JoeClone, 26-Mar-02.


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Subject: RE: lyrics ? Jumped off a bridge
From: ptimmerman@ifias.ca
Date: 23 Apr 97 - 01:48 PM

If I recall, the song more mysteriously says that someone saw someone who looked a lot like you, and she and Billie Joe were throwing something off the Tallahatchie Bridge. As a footnote, Peter Seeger once remarked that the Tallahatchie Bridge was less than a mile from where Emmet Till was killed. So Black people knew who had really been tossed off that bridge.


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Subject: RE: lyrics ? Jumped off a bridge
From: belter
Date: 23 Apr 97 - 05:17 PM

That's an interesting historical note. There was a movie made based on the song, I'm guessing, or maybe the song was based on it.

In the movie, the boy committed suicide after being raped by a friend of his family. Then his girlfriend let people think he did it because he had gotten her pregnant, rather than reveal the truth. I doubt that any of that happened, because it doesn't jive with the note above.

By the way, there are more verses. I can't remember them exactly, but the way it goes, the family discusses Billie Joe's death over dinner with all the empathy you'd show for a beef steer that's been butchered, and wonder why she's not eating. Then it talks about time going on. Her father gets a fever and dies, and her mother pines away, and she spends a lot of time up on Choctaw Ridge.

I'd like to get the lyrics too. Can some one explain why Billie Joe is dead if she and Billie Joe were seen throwing someone else off? You can conjecture that they killed someone, threw him off the bridge, and Billie Joe disappeared and was assumed to be the body that washed up. Or a few other guesses could be made, but what is it supposed to mean?


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Subject: RE: lyrics ? Jumped off a bridge
From: Peter Timmerman
Date: 23 Apr 97 - 06:36 PM

the movie was certainly based on the song (as was Harper Valley P.T.A. the hideous follow up smash). The whole question of who threw what off the bridge was a mild obsession of the time. I remember that Bobbie G. gave an interview for Life (?) magazine where she said that there was more money in mystery than in spelling it out. This obviously doesn't seem to have stopped the moviemakers. Two of the lines missing are: "Chile, what's happened to your appetite, I've been cooking all morning and you haven't touched a single bite."


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Subject: RE: lyrics ? Jumped off a bridge
From: Peter Timmerman
Date: 23 Apr 97 - 08:19 PM

Actually it was Jeannie C. Riley who did Harper Valley PTA (song, and then there was a movie). The hair distracted me.


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Subject: Lyr Add: ODE TO BILLIE JOE (Bobbie Gentry)
From: Gene Graham
Date: 23 Apr 97 - 09:06 PM

I didn't pay close enough attention to notice the missing verses... only checked the index listing and verified the song was at COWPIE.

Here are the missing verses:

ODE TO BILLIE JOE
Written and recorded by Bobbie Gentry, 1967

1. It was the third o' June, another sleepy, dusty Delta day.
I was out choppin' cotton an' my brother was bailin' hay,
And at dinner time we stopped an' walked back to the house to eat,
An' Mama hollered out the back door, "Y'all remember to wipe your feet,"
And then she said, "I got some news this mornin' from Choctaw Ridge.
Today Billie Joe McAllister jumped off the Tallahatchie Bridge."

2. Papa said to Mama as he passed around the black-eyed peas,
"Well, Billie Joe never had a lick o' sense—pass the biscuits, please.
There's five more acres in the lower forty I got to plow."
An' Mama said it was a shame about Billie Joe anyhow.
Seems like nothin' ever comes to no good up on Choctaw Ridge,
An' now Billie Joe McAllister's jumped off the Tallahatchie Bridge.

3. 'N' brother said he recollected when he an' Tom an' Billie Joe
Put a frog down my back at the Carroll County picture show,
An' wasn't I talkin' to him after church last Sunday night?
"I'll have another piece o' apple pie—you know, it don't seem right.
I saw him at the sawmill yesterday on Choctaw Ridge,
An' now you tell me Billie Joe's jumped off the Tallahatchie Bridge."

4. Mama said to me, "Child, what's happened to your appetite?
I been cookin' all mornin' an' you haven't touched a single bite.
That nice young preacher Brother Taylor dropped by today,
Said he'd be pleased to have dinner on Sunday—oh, by the way,
He said he saw a girl that looked a lot like you up on Choctaw Ridge,
An' she an' Billie Joe was throwin' somethin' off the Tallahatchie Bridge."

5. A year has come an' gone since we heard the news 'bout Billie Joe.
Brother married Becky Thompson; they bought a store in Tupelo.
There was a virus goin' 'round, Papa caught it, an' he died last spring,
An' now Mama doesn't seem to want to do much of anything,
An' me, I spend a lot o' time pickin' flowers up on Choctaw Ridge
An' droppin' 'em into the muddy water off the Tallahatchie Bridge.


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Subject: RE: lyrics ? Jumped off a bridge
From: GUEST,noam_l@inter.net.il
Date: 02 Jul 01 - 02:52 AM

Well, I like this song a lot. For me it was always obvious that the girl was in close relationship with the boy; she was hanging around Choctaw Ridge, talking to BJ, and they were picking flowers and throwing them from the bridge. Yet moody BJ commited suicide, and his friend who was reserved is mourning silently over him, even more than at her own father's recent death. Everything changed around her, it seems: Her father, her mother, her brother - but she is stuck in her early and forever love to BJ. The lyrics with the tune are fantastic together. One od the most touching songs ever, and I mean it. Noam


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Subject: RE: lyrics ? Jumped off a bridge
From: catspaw49
Date: 02 Jul 01 - 03:02 AM

The story of Billie Joe is based in truth but stylized to some degree. It is an old story, dating back to the the late 40's when the only daughter of John Hatch, a Mississippi Klansman of some note, was in love with the first black attorney in the state, one Jubilee Simmons. He was the grandson of slaves and had gone to school at the University of Chicago and returned to his family's home state, taking up residence in Carroll county in 1948. John Hatch's daughter was known to be a bit wild and young Kelli had already incurred her father's wrath on numerous occasions. Kelli was living with two other 22 year old women in the small town of Campton, Mississippi when she met and began dating Simmons. Her father learned of it a few weeks later and came into town drunk with some Klan buddies to hunt down and kill Simmons. Simmons law offices were across from the county courthouse and from an open window he could hear the drunken invectives hurled his way from across the square. He slipped out a back door and went to Kelli's house to take her away and save them both from the murderous rancor of her father and his Klavern "brethren."

Not finding Jubilee in his office the Klansmen split up to search for him and John Hatch went to his daughter's, presumably to beat her or possibly worse. He arrived before the pair had left and headed in through the back porch door adjoining the kitchen. Seeing him coming, Simmons grabbed a kitchen knife and jumped atop the counter and then onto the top of the refrigerator that stood by the door. As John Hatch passed, he didn't notice Simmons who then jumped him safely from behind and in the ensuing struggle, Hatch was stabbed with the knife. The lovers bagged his body and threw it off a bridge on their way out of town. They were on their way to Chicago when they were arrested in Clarksville, Tennessee and returned for trial in Mississippi. Jubilee Simmons himself represented both, and thanks to the testimony of one of the roommates and Mrs. Hatch who had suffered abuse for years at the hands of her husband, both were acquitted and moved to Chicago where he established a moderately successful practice on the south side.

The original song told the story as it was, but owing to legal considerations, the Gentry version was done instead. The original was titled, "The Day that Jubilee the Barrister Jumped Off of Kelli Hatch's Fridge."










Sorry....................

Spaw


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Subject: RE: lyrics ? Jumped off a bridge
From: Noreen
Date: 02 Jul 01 - 07:24 AM

...no you're not!


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Subject: RE: lyrics ? Jumped off a bridge
From: catspaw49
Date: 02 Jul 01 - 08:54 AM

Okay........You're right..........It's even the second time I told the sillyass thing here and I'm not sorry for that either............so there!!!

Spaw


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Subject: RE: lyrics ? Jumped off a bridge
From: 53
Date: 02 Jul 01 - 08:29 PM

Catspaw,

I, for one, am glad you shared it again, because I never heard it before. Is that really a true or 'told for truth' story?

Glenda


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Subject: RE: lyrics ? Jumped off a bridge
From: catspaw49
Date: 02 Jul 01 - 08:34 PM

....uh, well...........Glenda, let's call it "Unadulterated Catspaw Bullshit".............

Spaw


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Subject: RE: lyrics ? Jumped off a bridge
From: Kaleea
Date: 03 Jul 01 - 01:32 AM

I saw the movie in about 1979 as I recall, and I'm glad I didn't have to pay for the ticket! What was thrown off of the Tallahatchie Bridge was, according to Bobbie Gentry in an interview I saw on TV way back then, was the still born baby of the girl and Billie Joe McCallister. The song came first, and then the movie several years later. Now for the scary part . . . When I was a teenager I used to sleep with my (AM)radio on all night. I woke up one night in the middle of a dream where we were sitting around the red checkered tablecloth covered dinner table passing around the biscuits and blackeyed peas, and you guessed it, "Ode to Billie Joe" was playing.


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Subject: RE: lyrics ? Jumped off a bridge
From: catspaw49
Date: 03 Jul 01 - 01:40 AM

It would have been a lot scarier if you awoke to find yourself actually sitting around the table and eating biscuits and blackeyes. Perhaps though you did eat some just before bedtime because they lay pretty heavy, give you bad gas, and will cause some weird dreams......and a gawd-awful stench in your bedroom.

Spaw


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Subject: RE: lyrics ? Jumped off a bridge
From: Rt Revd Sir jOhn from Hull
Date: 26 Nov 02 - 03:22 AM


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Ode to Billie Joe (Bobbie Gentry)
From: GUEST
Date: 08 Sep 06 - 09:47 PM

Chords for Okolona River Bottom Band?


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Ode to Billie Joe (Bobbie Gentry)
From: GUEST
Date: 09 Sep 06 - 12:25 AM

a rhyming word missing in first verse

Words and music by Bobbie Gentry
            F7
It was the third of June,
         Cm7                   F7
Another sleepy, dusty, [DAY]
      F7
I was out choppin' cotton
       Cm7                   F7
And my brother was bailin' hay


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Ode to Billie Joe (Bobbie Gentry)
From: ClaireBear
Date: 09 Sep 06 - 02:04 AM

Shouldn't that be sleepy, dusty delta day?


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Ode to Billie Joe (Bobbie Gentry)
From: GUEST
Date: 06 Oct 06 - 10:47 PM

I was at work today & this song got stuck in my head. I asked different ones that would have known the song, what the couple were throwing off the bridge.
Someone said an engagement ring, in which case it would prove that not only did Billy Joe not have a "lick o' sense", she wouldn't have had much either. Unless maybe it was a cigar band. I picture in my mind this taking place way up in the country.
Anyway, someone suggested I go on the internet & I thought, what the heck.
I'm so glad I did. I laughed till I cried at catspaw49. What an incredible sense of humor that person has. I was believing the whole story until I got down to what he said the original title was & started laughing so hard I cried.
Thank you catspaw49. I needed that!!!


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Ode to Billie Joe (Bobbie Gentry)
From: catspaw49
Date: 06 Oct 06 - 11:46 PM

Thank you dear Guest. I too needed that!

Since then I have tossed that one in on a few other threads over the years and it has always reeled in a few more. I think the last retelling wasprobably a third longer adding in even more detail which is what sells a "Feghoot".......what a story like that is called.

Probably the best known Feghoot is the one about Roy Rogers who had a new pair of boots he had left outside the ranch house, mauled and destroyed by a rogue Mountain Lion. Told with great elaboration of course, the beast is finally captured and displayed in a cage at the Double R Bar ranch. Someone viewing it asks, "Pardon me Roy. Is that the cat who chewed your new shoes?" (Pardon me boy. Is that the Chattanooga Choo-Choo?)

Anyway, thanks again.

Spaw


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Ode to Billie Joe (Bobbie Gentry)
From: GUEST,rachel smith
Date: 13 Apr 09 - 12:39 AM

i saw this movie and its is sbut a boy and girl who throw their stillborn child off the bridge and then billy joe kills himself hence why the girl is not eating she has had a miscarriage and her love had killed himself


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Ode to Billie Joe (Bobbie Gentry)
From: Pete Jennings
Date: 13 Apr 09 - 08:50 AM

Reading through Spaw's story, I was so engrossed that by the time they were in the kithcne I was almost screaming "don't kill him, they'll lynch you!". Then they got arrested and brought back and I was thinking oh sh*t. Then when Jubilee was acquited I almost sighed with relief.

Then I saw the punchline and now I sitting here p*ss*ng myself.

Abso-bloody-lutely brilliant! Best laugh I've had for ages, Spaw.

Pete


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Ode to Billie Joe (Bobbie Gentry)
From: GUEST,TJ in San Diego
Date: 13 Apr 09 - 04:48 PM

What's remarkable is that Roberta Lee Streeter, known professionally as Bobbie Gentry, was never able to follow up this hit with anything remotely as successful. She charted something like eight or nine singles and did some TV work, but nothing like "Billie Joe." She was last known to be in the Los Angeles area, but had apparently stopped performing in the early 1970's.

With her smoky, husky delivery, some still feel she was deserving of a better future. Instead, she remains underappreciated and tabbed as a "one hit wonder" by many who remember her at all.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Ode to Billie Joe (Bobbie Gentry)
From: GUEST,treefrogdemon
Date: 17 Apr 09 - 10:25 AM

Rachel Harrington, on Bob Harris' Radio 2 country show last night, said the song actually has 11 verses but Bobbie Gentry's record company said that would make the song too long...don't know whether the missing verses solve the mystery! Having said that, RH proceeded to sing it but left off the last verse - the most poignant of all, where we find the narrator has lost not just Billie Joe but all her loved ones.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Ode to Billie Joe (Bobbie Gentry)
From: GUEST,Cliff
Date: 11 Jul 10 - 03:35 PM

For those like catspaw47 who deny the essential tragdy which occurs when reality overrides love, only means that they haven't faced it yet and, as each year passes, they fear it even more. Those who accept it have either experienced it themselves.
As a Vietnam vet who was exposed to Agent Orange in an attempt to avoid a budgetary crisis and a person who has experienced the damage of PTSD and depression for most of my life, I speak from experience. At this point in my life, I am left with the hope that I can somehow make a difference in other peoples lives.
My desperation can be best measured by the fact that, within the past few minutes, reading the lyrics and thinking about what I was about to write forced me to cry, beg for forgiveness and burst into tears.

Clifford Goad


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Ode to Billie Joe (Bobbie Gentry)
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 13 Jul 10 - 04:32 PM

Cliff: It is tragic that your loss and your pain should go unnoticed.

Other than that, I don't have much to say, except that I hope you have people in your life to whom you can unburden yourself.


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Subject: Lyr Add: CLOTHES LINE SAGA (Bob Dylan/B Gentry)
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 11 Sep 13 - 04:00 PM

I learned about this parody from Wikipedia, so I had to look it up on Spotify.


CLOTHES LINE SAGA
Words, Bob Dylan; music, Bobbie Gentry, ODE TO BILLIE JOE.
As sung by Bob Dylan with The Band on "The Basement Tapes" (1975)

After a while we took in the clothes; nobody said very much—
Just some old wild shirts and a couple pairs o' pants which nobody really wanted to touch.
Mama come in an' picked up a book, an' Papa asked her what it was.
Someone else asked, "What do you care?" Papa said, "Well, just because."
Then we started to take back the clothes, an' hang 'em on the line.
It was January the thirtieth, and everybody was feelin' fine.

'Bout next day, ever'body got up, seein' if the clothes were dry.
The dogs were barkin'; a neighbor passed; mama, of course, she said, "Hi!"
"Have you heard the news?" he said with a grin. "The vice president's gone mad."
"Where?" "Downtown." "When?" "Last night." "Hmm! Gee, that's too bad."
"Well, there's nothin' we can do about it," said the neighbor. "It's just somethin' we're gonna have to forget."
"Yes, I guess so," said Ma, then she asked me if the clothes were still wet.

I reached up, touched my shirt, and the neighbor said, "Are those clothes yours?"
I said, "Some of 'em, not all of 'em." He said, "Y'always help out around here with the chores?"
I said, "Sometimes, not all the time," then my neighbor he blew his nose,
Just as Papa yelled outside, "Mama wants you to come back in the house and bring them clothes."
Woo-hoo! I just do what I'm told, so I did it, of course.
I went back in the house, an' Mama met me and then I shut all the doors.


[Also recorded by—
Suzzy & Maggie Roche on the tribute album "A Nod to Bob" (2001)
Cowboy Junkies on "Garth Hudson Presents a Canadian Celebration of The Band, Vol. 1" (2010)
Invisible Republic on "A Basement Tapes Revival" (2011)]


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Ode to Billie Joe (Bobbie Gentry)
From: Songwronger
Date: 13 Jul 14 - 11:01 PM

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HaRacIzZSPo

A BBC performance, 1968.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Ode to Billie Joe (Bobbie Gentry)
From: PHJim
Date: 14 Jul 14 - 12:00 AM

I recall Leonard Feather used to do "Blindfold Tests" in Downbeat magazine. When Oscar Peterson did his test, one of the songs was Bobbie's version of Ode To Billie Joe. Oscar loved the tune and said, "I'd like to record that tune."
I never heard any more about that till just now. I went on Youtube and there it was, Oscar's version of Bobbie's song.

Oscar Peterson's version of Ode To Billie Joe


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Ode to Billie Joe (Bobbie Gentry)
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 14 Jul 14 - 12:34 PM

Thanks, PHJim. Oscar Peterson is one of my favorites.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Ode to Billie Joe (Bobbie Gentry)
From: GUEST,CoriSCapnSkip
Date: 09 Jun 16 - 03:48 AM

Sorry I can't provide links. Last time I tried to post on here and do so I lost all I had written and never did finish the post, maybe sometime.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Ode to Billie Joe (Bobbie Gentry)
From: GUEST,CoriSCapnSkip
Date: 09 Jun 16 - 05:02 AM

Tried posting the above, then going to try to create a link and coming back to see if I could paste it in, but couldn't. I may have joined this forum but if so can't see where to Login so am posting as a guest. Anyway, just wanted to say that the site linked below was the most interesting resource and the rest you can find yourselves as it's so darn hard to create links here!

http://jjmccullough.com/billyjoe.htm

This site offers endless speculation on the song's events, showing that "Rashomon" has nothing on Billie Joe, as well as invaluable insights which listeners unfamiliar with the time and place might miss. One of the most useful items was the one narrowing down which bridge was the most likely referenced in the song based on the location of Choctaw Ridge. I am left with no answers, only additional questions. For those looking for something to do, here they are:

1. In the novelization based on the movie script written by a man who came up with his own ideas based on Bobbie Gentry's song, the narrator's mother adds, "He's dead" after relating that Billie Joe had jumped, with a phrase such as "as if there could be any doubt of the outcome of such an act." Well, IS there? CAN there be any doubt? Wikipedia, if that's a trusted source, states the Tallahatchie River is about 50 feet deep and full of large sharp rocks. Is jumping off bridges not a "thing" on any part of the Tallahatchie River, especially near Choctaw Ridge? Has anyone jumped, fell, or been pushed off any such bridge, and if so what was the result? I say, send MythBusters to the several best candidate bridges and run crash tests with dummies!

2. Did Bobbie Gentry ever actually state that the object thrown off the bridge was an aborted, stillborn, miscarried, or any kind of baby? I thought she stated she didn't know what they threw and that was not the point of the song. Is this truly from an interview or someone's imagination?

3. Does anyone have the full text of the original long version with the missing verses? The song was said to be originally 7 minutes edited to 4. I found handwritten lyrics on display from Ole Miss beginning with a verse about a girl who does not seem to be the narrator, at first sounding as if she is missing, then as if her whereabouts are known but she avoids all public contact due to some knowledge of the song's events. It seems this one verse would not be enough to render the song nearly twice as long! Are there other verses and what is their content and purport?

4. Someone at the above link states "that nice young preacher Brother Taylor" bears closer examination. He seems to know a lot about the whereabouts and doings of the narrator and Billie Joe at different times and places, as if following them. Perhaps what happened to Billie Joe was blackmail or murder by a rival for the hand of the narrator. All I ever saw was this poor girl has just lost someone of deep significance to her--much deeper than her family knows or acknowledges--and here her mother is trying to shove some other guy at her--but others see more here.

5. Lastly, and most important, why is the song titled "Ode to Billie Joe" when preferred spellings would be "Billy Joe" (male) or "Billie Jo" (female)? Does this hint at the character being of uncertain gender? Billie Joe could be a girl. Of course, that would make the "he" in verse 3 refer to Tom, to whom Billie Joe was a friend or relative. The song will be fifty years old next year and the movie is at least forty. Time for a gender bender remake!

Billie Joe could be a known female who had always acted tomboyish, if that could be accepted in the rural south in the mid 20th century. There was an "Andy Griffith" episode about "Frankie the pretty good farm hand," whose father made her dress and act so as he was afraid to lose her for farm chores, so dressing or acting boyish wouldn't necessarily be taboo for the 50s or 60s. Or it could be a real case of the child being intersex or transgender, sent by embarrassed relatives to live with the parents of Tom. Of course presumably the family would know the child was born female or hermaphrodite, and there would be issues of school enrollment. Or the child could be like Dill in "To Kill a Mockingbird," who only spent summers with relatives and told outrageous stories about how he usually lived. Perhaps Billie Joe was a girl letting out her inner male side while visiting Cousin Tom, but when Billie, transitioning from child to young adult, becomes serious about the narrator, either Tom spills the beans or Brother Taylor, who is in on it, blows the whistle. Then the narrator rejects Billie Joe, even angrily, having believed all along he was a boy, and Billie can't stand it and jumps. What was thrown off the bridge was a romantic offering, only they weren't both throwing it--the narrator was throwing and Billie trying to prevent its being thrown. The narrator carries the guilt and devastation for life.

This story is crying for a transgender remake. I'm off to post to Internet Movie Database, or wherever else one goes to propose ideas for remakes which really need to be made!


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Ode to Billie Joe (Bobbie Gentry)
From: GUEST,Ebor Fiddler
Date: 09 Jun 16 - 07:29 AM

I'd always assumed that Billie Jo(e) was a girl!


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Ode to Billie Joe (Bobbie Gentry)
From: mkebenn
Date: 09 Jun 16 - 09:05 AM

My rather pedestrian take on this song is that they were throwing(dropping) flowers and that Billy Joe pulled a Patches as he felt his love was unattainable. Mike


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Ode to Billie Joe (Bobbie Gentry)
From: mkebenn
Date: 09 Jun 16 - 09:09 AM

PS. Bobby Gentry also wrote Reba and Dolly's hit "Fancy", a remarkable song and I too wish I'd heard more from her. Mike


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Ode to Billie Joe (Bobbie Gentry)
From: MickyMan
Date: 09 Jun 16 - 05:11 PM

I like to call it, "Ode To The 7th Chord"


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Mudcat time: 23 September 2:36 PM EDT

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