“Ode to Billie Joe” by Bobbie Gentry
“Ode to Billie Joe” is a narrative song detailing an event of suicide. The first stanza portrays the setting and time of how everything unfolded. It presents a normal evening with the singer’s family about to have their evening meal. It was after they were all seated that her mum revealed she had earlier heard that Billie Joe had committed suicide.
In the second stanza the singer depicts the reaction of the family after they heard the news. Her father was nonchalant about the whole story and even blamed the deceased. As for her mother, she was rather more empathetic about the story.
And her brother, on the other hand, was also reflecting about the times he had together with the victim. Even though he was brooding over the past memories it still did not stop him from enjoying his meal.
She further expresses how the news shocked her so much that she was unable to eat.
In the final verse she describes a year after they heard the news. In the year that passed, her brother had got married; her father died from a virus and her mother was grieving for her dad.
Gentry reportedly stated that the song talks more about lack of concern of the public for tragic news.
“Ode to Billie Joe” Facts
- Primary Artist(s): Bobbie Gentry
- Writing: Gentry
- Production: B Paris and K. Gordon
- Release: July of 1967
- Album: “Ode to Billie Joe”
What Genre is “Ode to Billie Joe”?
It is a country classic.
- United States: 1
- United Kingdom: 13
This song has been recreated by many artists including:
- Sinéad O’Connor (1995)
- Lou Donaldson (1967)
Was “Ode to Billie Joe” released as a single?
Yes. In fact, the song was one of the most successful singles to be released in the United States that year.