1967, when “Ode to Billy Joe” was at the top of the charts, I liked it but never really appreciated it.
Now I see it as a remarkable artistic accomplishment…
It’s a narrative and a very compelling one. And although the story is fundamentally sentimental, the lyrics are sophisticated and elevate it into something that is touching and bewildering and profound.
It’s interesting to think that this song was written by a young person that grew up in rural Tennessee.
Bobbie Gentry was born in Chickasaw County, Tennessee. She wrote “Ode to Billy Joe” in 1967. It was released the next year and became an international hit.
The Tallahatchie Bridge, mentioned in the song, collapsed in 1972.