Ode To Billie Joe ( Bobbie Gentry Cover ) 07.07.11
I admit being intrigued by the mysterious classic, Ode To Billie Joe, from an early age; it was on the radio all the time while I was growing up. So I was very excited when the the song was fleshed out into a tv movie of the week in 1976. Perhaps the movie would answer some of the mysteries that remained unsolved in the song itself.
I wasn’t prepared for the suggestive gay undertones in the movie. I hadn’t been exposed to the idea of homosexuality at that point (I was 10), and I recall that it wasn’t portrayed in a very positive light in the film. Lots of rural self-loathing. But something in me was fascinated by the idea of a movie that fleshed out this mysterious song in such a way.
I did a little pronoun exchange in my interpretation. 😉
Years later, my friend Stephanie Power loaned me a compilation of Bobbie Gentry‘s recordings, and I fell in love with Bobbie’s style and great songwriting skills, a mesh of country, folk and classic orchestral pop all rolled into one package. Soon afterwards, I obtained Gentry’s duet with Glen Campbell, their cover of the old Everly Brothers classic, (All I Have To Do Is) Dream. Then I discovered that she hosted her own television series in the UK in the late 1960s, which was pretty unique, considering she was an American raised in Mississippi.
Now when the urge strikes, I watch clips of Bobbie performing on various television shows from the late 1960s. I wish she’d come out of retirement to do one more tour.
Ode To Billie Joe is the song Gentry will be forever remembered for, but she wrote a lot of really good songs. It’s worth digging a bit to find her material.