News from Choctaw Ridge
August 5, 1967 - It was on this day that Bobbie Gentry recorded her Southern Gothic masterpiece, Ode to Billie Joe. The song shot to #1 and stayed there for 4 weeks. It sold 3,000,000 copies worldwide and earned Gentry 3 Grammy awards. Ironically, Ode to Billie Joe was actually the B-side of her first single, Mississippi Delta, but there was something about the creepy and cryptic tune that grabbed the world's attention.
The song tells the story of a family sitting down for dinner and discussing the news that a young man they know just jumped off the Tallahatchie Bridge. The narrative is loaded with mysterious elements, like the fact that Billie Joe was seen with the family's daughter (the song's narrator), and they were throwing something off the bridge. Yikes!
Bobbie Gentry claims the song wasn't really about resolving the motive behind Billie Joe's suicide. She sees it as a study of indifference. It's about how people fail to understand each other's emotions. Give it a listen.