Wednesday, June 28, 2017

news from Choctaw Ridge

The haunting magic of Bobbie Gentry's song, "Ode to Billy Joe" permeates and transcends the fifty years since the record came out.

When you watch the performances on You Tube, you see Ms. Gentry with her mid-1960s glamour:  cascading big long hair, and assertive, show-business Eyelashes. 

The power of her delivery and the instrumental backup is mesmerizing; violins providing a rhythmic anchor as well as a sonic "waterfall" of implied cataclysmic emotion, restrained and managed, at least for now....

As a listener, you are not done with that song until that song is done with you.

And the unanswered questions of the song's story:

What happened?

Why did Billy Joe jump?

Was she in love with him?

Did she break up with him?

They were talking after church Sunday night?

The nice young preacher dropped by today?

Why does nothing ever come to no good up on Choctaw Ridge?...

...When you scroll down the Comments, various listeners have their guesses and ideas of the "truth," and what "really happened" in the story, and what that means....

The unspoken mystery contributes to the fascination, but also it's just simply a great-sounding song, lyrics and music complementing each other perfectly to make it unforgettable.  And also unanswerable.

Among the theories of story and circumstance, one Commenter had an alternative conjecture as to why Billy Joe MacAllister jumped off the Tallahatchie Bridge:

Troy Winter
-------------- Prolley got tired of the heat, bugs and humidity.  Drove a truck everytime I would hit Mississippi in the summer I wanted to jump off the bridge.  I'm a Michigan boy I can put more clothes on in the cold.  You can only takeoff so much without the law gettting involved


(laughing very much)
I found that Comment irresistible partly because the tightly-packed economy of language and intertwined wit and true feeling of the Comment is essentially in the same style as the song itself....

(this Comment's original phrasing, wording, and spelling respectfully preserved)


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