Tuesday, June 27, 2017

mystery song

It was the third of June, another sleepy, dusty Delta day.

I was out choppin' cotton, and my brother was balin' hay.

At dinner-time we stopped, and walked back to the house to eat.

And mama hollered out the back door "y'all remember to wipe your feet."

And then she said I got some news this mornin' from Choctaw Ridge

Today Billy Joe MacAllister jumped off the Tallahatchie Bridge.

Papa said to mama, as he passed around the black-eyed peas,

"Well, Billy Joe never had a lick of sense; pass the biscuits, please.

There's five more acres in the lower forty I've got to plow."

And Mama said it was a shame about Billy Joe, anyhow.

Seems like nothin' ever comes to no good up on Choctaw Ridge,

And now Billy Joe MacAllister's jumped off the Tallahatchie Bridge

Brother said he recollected when he and Tom and Billy Joe

Put a frog down my back at the Carroll County picture show.

And wasn't I talkin' to him after church last Sunday night?

"I'll have another piece of apple pie; you know it don't seem right.

I saw him at the sawmill yesterday on Choctaw Ridge,

And now you tell me Billy Joe's jumped off the Tallahatchie Bridge."

Mama said to me "Child, what's happened to your appetite?

I've been cookin' all morning and you haven't touched a single bite.

That nice young preacher, Brother Taylor, dropped by today,

Said he'd be pleased to have dinner on Sunday.  Oh by the way,

He said he saw a girl that looked a lot like you up on Choctaw Ridge

And she and Billy Joe was throwing somethin' off the Tallahatchie Bridge."

A year has come 'n' gone since we heard the news 'bout Billy Joe.

Brother married Becky Thompson, they bought a store in Tupelo.

There was a virus going 'round, papa caught it and he died last spring,

And now mama doesn't seem to want to do much of anything.

And me, I spend a lot of time pickin' flowers up on Choctaw Ridge,

And drop them into the muddy water off the Tallahatchie Bridge.


{"Ode to Billie Joe" - written and recorded by Bobbie Gentry -- released, July 1967.  Capitol Records.  Producer:  Kelly Gordon.}