Ode to Billy Joe

On Memories and Novels..

I even have an old 45 vinyl of this song, cripes I must have been a freaky ‘young kid’, this book I read hiding it of course, talk about ‘deep an meaningful’…  Aussie’s used to say ‘d and m’s’ like uh oh… 😀 am busy looking up books I once read… Thinking that; must have read the book because my parents had the vinyl,  it was so ‘haunting’ ~ and was curious?

Bobbie Gentry sings her hit song, “Ode To Billy Joe,” on “The Andy Williams Show,” February 13, 1971

I mainly just remember a boy and a girl love story plot, and the suicide… interesting that I don’t remember the ‘twist’ of his sexuality. Was fairly young when I read this, and many other types of American based novels also a few about American Indians set in the idea of ‘blending’ into society and schools etc.

Perhaps I should mention that in Junior High, (about 1978) I was a librarian actually just requested it because I’ve always been a bit of a loner and enjoyed the ‘serenity’ of being able to ‘escape’ to the School Library whenever I felt like it… To absorb myself within all the novels etc.  I was fairly new to the idea of being enrolled in a ‘girl only’ Catholic College and well, girls can be too chatty for me at times… lol

Billy Joe confesses his love to the lovely Bobbi Lee only to cover his growing fear that he may, in fact, be homosexual. One night, at a barn dance, he gets a little drunk and rather than going with the hired whores, gives into his desires and sexual relations with an unnamed man. The guilt causes him to run away, hide in the woods and eventually confess everything to Bobbi Lee who doesn’t want to believe him only because she was enjoying the forbidden nature of their love. In the end, he cannot accept his sexuality nor can he hide behind Bobbi Lee and that’s why he throws himself off the Tallahachee bridge. 

Review by John Vogel

( An Image of Bobbie Gentry, not sure of year or location..)



At last, we’re given the answers to the questions raised by the haunting 1967 Bobbie Gentry song of the same title. Eighteen- year-old Billy Joe McAllister is in love with Bobbie Lee, but her father refuses to allow her to receive gentlemen callers before she’s sixteen. In the Mississippi Delta, in a time before the boondocks had seen television and indoor plumbing, a young man’s fancy turns constantly to thoughts of love. Billy Joe is no different in this regard and his persistence is making it difficult for Bobbie Lee to maintain her virtue (the dog-earred issues of “Torrid Romance” don’t help either). Perhaps an indictment of the artificial conventions of society, the film demonstrates the tragic consequences of a young couple’s first awkward grapplings with love and sex. As Bobbie Lee says shortly after Billy Joe’s lifeless body is dragged from the Tallahatchie River, “What do I know of love… I’m only a child.” Yet, there seems little doubt that what she feels for the dead boy is love. Could he have loved her so well?

Review by Anonymous

Ode To Billy Joe (Dell)

 Ode To Billy Joe (Dell)
On June 3, 1953, Billy Joe McAllister jumped off the Tallahatchie Bridge. Now, years after the whispers and rumors, the muddy Tallahatchie River gives up its secrets, the secrets within the haunting ballad that swept America.
Based on his own screenplay, Herman Raucher has taken the Bobbie Gentry classic and written a tender, funny, and ultimately heartbreaking love story
Mass Market Paperback
Published March 1st 1976 by Dell (first published 1976)
0440166284 (ISBN13: 9780440166283)
original title
Ode to Billy Joe (Dell) …Read more at GoodReads
Fancy (Bobbie Gentry song)
Fancy (Bobbie Gentry song) (Via: Wikipedia)

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