Everyday poetry: “Ode to Billie Joe” — 2 Comments

  1. BTW, I considered that one of the two (the family or Billy Joe) might be black, but I didn’t think they would be chatting after church in 1967 Mississippi if that were the case, or going to the picture show together. I don’t think that was “done” in that place at that time, although there are theories to that effect.

    The Tallahatchie Bridge collapsed in the early 1970s. It was only 20 feet high, and the water was deep, so you could jump with no problem. People did after the song came out, driving the local police nuts.

    Fourteen-year-old Emmett Till’s tortured body was thrown into the Tallahatchie River. According to Wikipedia, “Till’s mother had an open casket funeral to let everyone see how her son had been brutally killed. He had been shot and beaten; he was then thrown into the Tallahatchie River with a seventy-five pound cotton gin fan tied to his neck with barbed wire to work as a weight. His body remained in the river for three days until it was discovered and retrieved by two fishermen.” The story was covered by 60 Minutes a few years ago.

    All the photos I’ve found of bridges over the Tallahatchie show a very muddy river.

    Capitol released Gentry’s demo version with some orchestration added. Her singing and guitar work are unadulterated, which is fabulous. I loathe pop music because it is so, so overproduced. (Well, there are other reasons, but you get the idea.)

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