Ode to Billie Joe peaked at no 4 on the Go-Set National Top 40 on 4 October 1967.
This song tells the story of the fictional Billie Joe McAllister, who kills himself by jumping off the Tallahatchie Bridge. There really is a Tallahatchie Bridge in Money, Mississippi, but Gentry made up the story.
In this song, a family finds out about the death of Billie Joe and shares gossip about him at the dinner table along with their other mundane concerns. Bobbie Gentry explained: “The message of the song revolves around the nonchalant way the family talks about the suicide. The song is a study in unconscious cruelty.”
Read more: www.songfacts.com/facts/bobbie-gentry/ode-to-billie-joe
The song’s popularity proved so enduring that in 1976, nine years after its release, Warner Bros. commissioned author Herman Raucher to expand and adapt the story as a novel and screenplay, Ode to Billy Joe. The poster’s tagline, which treats the film as being based on a true story and gives a date of death for Billy (June 3, 1953), led many to believe that the song was based on actual events. In Raucher’s novel and screenplay, Billy Joe kills himself after a drunken homosexual experience, and the object thrown from the bridge is the narrator’s rag doll. The film was released in 1976, directed and produced by Max Baer, Jr, and starring Robby Benson and Glynnis O’Connor.
Read more: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ode_to_Billie_Joe
This song is also on our Spotify playlist.
After you’ve listened to this song, click HERE to pick another one!
New to Bang a Gong? Click HERE to learn more about us.