Isaiah 6:8

8 Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?”And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”

Monday, April 18, 2016

O Is For Ode To Billie Joe

Welcome to my music themed A-Z Challenge for 2016.  My song today begins with the letter O and is one of my favorite songs when I was younger, Ode to Billie Joe.   I still love to hear it and when I do it haunts my soul.  The song is a first-person narrative that reveals a Southern Gothic tale in its verses by including the dialog of the narrator's family at dinnertime on the day that "Billie Joe McAllister jumped off the Tallahatchie Bridge" Throughout the song, the suicide and other tragedies are contrasted against visions of everyday routine and polite conversation.  The song begins with the narrator, her brother and her father returning, after morning chores, to the family house for dinner (on June 3). After cautioning them about tracking in dirt, "Mama" says that she "got some news this mornin' from Choctaw Ridge" that "Billie Joe McAllister jumped off the Tallahatchie Bridge," apparently to his death. Questions arose among the listeners: what did Billie Joe and his girlfriend throw off the Tallahatchie Bridge, and why did Billie Joe commit suicide? Speculation ran rampant after the song hit the airwaves, and Gentry said in a November 1967 interview that it was the question most asked of her by everyone she met. She named flowers, an engagement ring, a draft card, a bottle of LSD pills, and an aborted baby as the most often guessed items. Although she knew definitely what the item was, she would not reveal it, saying only "Suppose it was a wedding ring." "It's in there for two reasons," she said. "First, it locks up a definite relationship between Billie Joe and the girl telling the story, the girl at the table. Second, the fact that Billie Joe was seen throwing something off the bridge – no matter what it was – provides a possible motivation as to why he jumped off the bridge the next day."  My cousin, Amanda and I used to sing this song when we were younger and every now and then Amanda would shake the sadness of the song and switch the words around and it before it was over we were howling in laughter.  A's version was like this:  "It was the Jird of Thune....another deepy, slusty, Delta Day.  I was out copping chotton and my brother was haling bay.....It does not take a lot for a couple of 10 year olds to laugh hysterically.


Nonnie said...

I well remember that song and yes, we were always trying to figure out what was thrown over. I can still envision the whole song.

It's me. said...

I know the song but for some reason I have never really tried to figure out the lyrics. Very interesting article, next time the song comes on XM radio, I'll have to pay more attention.

Shelly @