Wednesday, June 3, 2009

A Year Has Come And Gone Since We Last Talked About Billie Joe

OMG ...

Can it REALLY already be The Third Of June ...


Soon Soon?!?!?

As we ALL know by now, just another sleepy, dusty Delta day.

Last year, inspired by a series of comments that ran on Ron Smith's EXCELLENT website, we revisited this Bobbie Gentry classic ...

In fact, we even tried to track Bobbie down ... without success ... the people "in the know" that we WERE able to come across pretty much told us that she doesn't necessarily WANT to be found ... whatever THAT means!!!

But I thought we'd revisit this topic again today ... so please join us on what just may become our annual pilgramage to Choctow Ridge ... y'all remember to wipe your feet!


Incredibly, it has now been exactly 43 years ago since Billie Joe McAllister jumped off The Tallahatchie Bridge. Hopefully many of the jocks on this list will honor this anniversary by spinning Bobbie Gentry's HUGE #1 Hit sometime today. (Hey, wouldn't it be cool if we could get EVERY radio station in the country to play "Ode To Billie Joe" at EXACTLY Noon today ... so that no matter WHERE in the world you were at that given moment, you could click on your radio and hear it?!?!?) Actually, quite a few of the jocks picked up on this last year and featured this very special musical anniversary on their programs ... I mean, this song was HUGE ... literally EVERYBODY out there was trying to analyze (and over-analyze) the meaning ... we wouldn't see anything like this again until Don McLean came up with "American Pie" a few years later!

Here are just a few of the comments we received last year (along with a few updates):

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

Yep, here in Chicago I was out bailing cotton and my sister was bailing hay. -- Chicago Mike

Y'all remember to wipe your feet ... --Ron Smith

haha!! a few of us will get that ... love it!


High tide too!
Austin Roberts

If I remember right, 43 years ago today was just another sleepy delta day.
Actually, it was DUSTY, too!!! (lol) kk
I knew there was another adjective that went in there but couldn't think of anything but sh***y!

LOL ... yeah, that'll work!!! (lol) kk

and I STILL hate that song!
Clay Pasternack

you have toooo much extra time on your hands ………….. Stan Burkat

Kent -
I used it as a Quick Drop - Thanks - I know it wasn't meant solely for rockandrollheaven - but used it anyway - hope it goes well - Mason
Go for it, MASON ... as you can see, we hit on a nerve again with this one ... this truly has become Billie Joe McAllister Day today!!! (kk)

Check out the email below … Chris --- aka Chuck Adams --- was one of the jocks at Virginia’s WGH when I was the AM Newsman back in the 60’s.
-- Eric AuCoin
"It was the third of June, another sleepy, dusty, Delta day. I was out choppin' cotton and my brother was bailin' hay" .... "A year's come and gone since we heard the news 'bout Billy Joe ..." which means that today would be the 43rd anniversary of Billy Joe McAlister's jump off the Tallahatchie Bridge. And whatever happened to that Nice Young Preacher Brother Taylor? ... or Bobbie Gentry, herself? Didn't she marry a millionaire and go into early retirement? Four Grammys for 1967: Best female vocal performance, Best contemporary female performance, Best new artist of 1967, Best Accompaniment Arrangement (for Jimmie Haskell). I was on my honeymoon in August, 1967, driving up the Maryland, Delaware, NJ coast, listening to WABC-AM, and that song got so much air play, I swear we heard it once an hour!
Chris Astle
Between our two AM powerhouses (WLS and WCFL) I think we really DID hear it at least once an hour back then!!! It was so COMPLETELY different than ANYTHING I'd ever heard before ... it REALLY stood out. One of the reasons this song worked so well is because Bobbie Gentry was the "real deal" ... born in Chickasaw County, Mississippi and raised in Greenwood, Mississippi. As I recall, Gentry had a couple of minor chart hits (including a couple of duets with Glen Campbell) and then, if I'm not mistaken, later married novelty singer Jim Stafford ... a pretty wild relationship from what I've heard!!! One of MY favorite Forgotten Hits was Fancy, a #31 Pop Hit in 1970, which was later covered (and QUITE well, I might add) by Country Superstar Reba McEntire. (kk)

Is Bobbie Gentry still living?
Tim Kiley
Yes, she is ... but I believe she's been "retired" for quite some time now. And, apparently, wants absolutely NOTHING to do with ever discussing this song again! Through our last tribute to this song, we were able to track down a few associates, friends and relatives of Bobbie Gentry ... ALL of whom pretty much told us that she does not WANT to be found. (kk)

Hey Kent,That's my kind of email. -- Guy

lol ...
it WAS the 3rd of June, another sleepy dusty delta day. I was out shopping for cotton clothes (and my husband was pitching a fit) oh by the way

I DO remember. I was out choppin' cotton and my brother was baillin' hay.

Hey Kent ...
I always loved that Bobbi Gentry!
Her hair style really got to me when I was a kid!
I'm sure many other future musicians back then had her album cover hung up on the wall like I did!
You KNOW it!!! Yep, she was HOT!!! (lol) kk

Every year, on June 3rd, I mention to a few friends that "It was the 3rd of June" ......
David Lewis
Far more significant for me, I guess, was the third of September ... THAT day I'll ALWAYS remember!!! (kk)



No WAY it could be that long ago!! That is just SICK!!! lol But - thanks for the info, Kent. Unbelievable. lol

OH MY .............. I hadn't heard because I WAS OUT CHOPPIN' COTTON AND MY BROTHER WAS BALING HAY!!!!

I'd help you celebrate ... but I'm too busy passing the biscuits.

Great to hear from you ... It is good to know someone is keeping the Oldies spirit alive.

Why do I think of Robbie Benson when I hear this song? Didn't they make a movie out of this song or something?
Yes, he starred in it ... and, although I personally have never seen the film, I believe he did full-frontal nudity!!! (kk)
I wouldn't have seen that .... I was watching it on pre-cable TV, like ABC or something. Nooooo nudity there!

And that was the song that knocked the Cryan' Shames out of the number 1 slot on the Chicago charts after weeks of being there! Jim Pilster still mentions it!
There was NO way of stopping THIS record ... it had MONSTER HIT written all over it! (kk)

Here's some of the dialog posted on Ron Smith's Oldies Music Website last year:
Reminds me of the time a frog was put down my back at a picture show .... I think I'll go get me some biscuits -- Chuck Pattillo

A year has come and gone since we heard the news 'bout Billie Joe. I think I'll pick some flowers up on Choctaw Ridge and throw them into the muddy water off the Tallhatchee Bridge. Ironically, the real Tallahatchee Bridge -- which collapsed in 1972 -- was over water so shallow people routinely jumped off without drowning. But then, Billie Joe never had a lick o'sense. -- Ron

Right, Ron. Pass the biscuits please. -- Ronnie Allen
And Ronnie I'll think I'll have another piece-a apple pie. :) -- Linda G
Get it yourself. There's five more acres in the lower forty I got to plow ...
-- Ron Smith
Well, I think it's just a dang shame about Billie Joe anyhow ... Linda G

Hey, I saw a girl that looked a lot like you up on Choctaw Ridge ... Lorne
Well now nosy Brother Taylor, you must've seen me and Billy Joe throw somethin' off the Tallahatchie Bridge ... ;) -- Linda G
Well, I'll be pleased to keep quiet about it if you make me a nice dinner on Sunday ... -- Brother Taylor

The ubiquitous question yet again ... Somewhere along the way since 1967, did Bobbie Gentry ever hint as to what she had in mind that they threw off the Tallahatchie bridge? I know they made a movie that really trashed the song and the mystery, and I'm surprised she let that movie fly. But somewhere in 41 years did she hint? Or was it just a Stanley Kubrick salute where she had nothing in mind and let guessing go on forever? -- Centerfield
I don't believe she's ever said for sure, but she had something in mind. Because Bobbie has pointed out that the song is really about how the girl's uncaring family never notices her relationship with Billie Joe and how his death affects her. Personally, I think Billie Joe "had her several years ago when she was still quite naive"-- oops, wrong mystery. -- Ron Smith
This is something that I've thought about SO many times over the years ... and I wonder if anybody else out there heard it and remembers it ... it has been etched in in my memory since the day of its original broadcast back in late summer / early fall of 1967 ... Jim Stagg (on WCFL) had Mark Lindsay (of Paul Revere and the Raiders) on his show (via telephone) one afternoon ... "Ode To Billie Joe" was the biggest song in the country ... it was ALL everybody was talking about ... and Stagg asked Lindsay what HE thought had been thrown off The Tallahatchie Bridge. Mark responded that he thought it was flowers ... and the rest of that day ... and for a few days afterwards ... whenever Stagg would play "Ode To Billie Joe" on his show he would play a tape loop of "It was flowers ... flowers" after Bobbie Gentry sang that line!!! In all these years, I've yet to meet ANYONE who remembers hearing this ... but it is clear as day in my mind ... because NOBODY knew for sure what it was (even the movie didn't make it clear!!!) ... so for Jim Stagg to proclaim this to be the answer to the mystery was HYSTERICAL!!! (It was simply Mark Lindsay's interpretation ... at best!!!) I was hoping that perhaps Clark Besch had a copy of this conversation in his massive tape collection but we never heard anymore about it. Does this ring a bell with ANYBODY out there?!?!?!? (kk)
Very cool story! Altho I had heard it might be flowers, I do not have a tape of the Raiders item you talk of. I do have Stagg mentioning they would be on "The Stagg Line" in a day or two when playing "Too Much Talk", but that would be the next year. It would be fun to have. In the summers, WCFL did not come in well in Dodge City.
Good luck,

Can't spend the whole day talking about "Ode To Billie Joe" and then not PLAY it!!! Here's Bobbie Gentry performing one of the BIGGEST (and most talked-about hits) of the '60's!!!

(And a great YouTube clip, too, of Bobbie performing the song on The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour!!!)

Click here: YouTube - Bobbie Gentry - Ode To Billy Joe

BTW: Just to show you how serious we are about today's anniversary, this Forgotten Hits feature was posted at EXACTLY 6:03 AM this morning!!!