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Bobby Gentry - Ode to Billy Joe - Lyrics Meaning

Written and recorded by Bobbie Gentry a popular singer-songwriter of the sixties Ode to Billie Joe was released in July 1967 and reached number one in the USA, as well as going on to become an international hit, generating no less than eight Grammy nominations.

The lyrics of Ode to Billy Joe have always been controversial dealing with a mysterious suicide and the whimsical life in Chickasaw County, Mississippi

from where Bobby Gentry hailed. For this reason, rumors have abounded regarding Bobby Gentry's real life connection to the character whose suicide is the focal point of the song, Billie Joe McAllister, who jumped off the Tallahatchie Bridge to his death.

What makes the song so poignant is the singer's narrative of indifference to the reasons why the young man decided to take his own life, and how the individual family members set the issue aside, as they dealt with the mundane problems of their own lives.

As the song winds to a close, Bobby Gentry recounts what has happened to her family in the year that has passed since Billy Joe's suicide, and gives an insight to her feeling of loss for what may have been her lover, with the poignant lyrics.

" and me I spend a lot of time picking flowers up on Choptaw ridge, and drop them into the muddy water off the Tallahatchie Bridge"