Friday, June 3, 2011

Another sleepy, dusty, Delta day ...

Bobbie Gentry on the Tallahatchie Bridge on November 10, 1967.

The bridge collapsed in 1972.

(Sad this bridge was not restored)

Ode to Billy Joe

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

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

And 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"


And Papa said to Mama as he passed around the blackeyed 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 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

And Brother said he recollected when he and Tom and Billie 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 Billie Joe's jumped off the Tallahatchie Bridge"

And 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

And 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 wanna 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.

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

(All the photos except the one of Bobbie Gentry above and the biscuits photo
are from Ernest Matthew Mickler.)

"Pass the biscuits, please ... "

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

"And brother married Becky Thompson, they bought a store in Tupelo."

"There was a virus goin' round,
papa caught it and he died last spring".

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

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

"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."


Every June the third I remember one of the greatest songs ever recorded.



Clint said...

Excellent---creative and expressive. I loved Bobbi Gentry. What a great song, how it is largely a give-and-take conversation.

This brings back some memories!

Anonymous said...

Awesome, Cindy. This is one of those songs that just sticks in your mind, doesn't it? Your photos were spot on!
Google will only let me post as anonymous right now......darn glitches!
Carol Blackburn

Shady Del Knight said...

There are few songs as evocative as "Ode to Billy Joe," Cindy, and I'm thrilled that you posted it today along with photos for illustration. The song always reminds me of my visit to the 1967 edition of the York Interstate Fair. It gets more specific than that. I remember listening to this song on a radio while resting on a bench in an exhibition hall that housed rabbits and domestic foul. If I would have heard the song on the midway or anywhere else it surely would not have had the same impact. Being near those noisy, smelly farm animal pens created the ideal multi-sensory ambiance that allowed the song to burn into my memory. Thank you very much for sharing, dear Cindy! Have a wonderful 3rd of June and a safe and happy weekend!

Crown of Beauty said...

Hi Cindy,
Thank you for taking time to visit my blog, and also for letting me know of Shady's response to my comment on your Pay It Forward post. I went over to his blog again to read up - and to leave a comment for him.

Such blogs deserve a reading, and a following, really. Thanks for this post. I remember this song quite well. Always felt a certain sadness whenever I heard it. The mom was quite a strong character, wasn't she.

Wonder who Billy Joe was.

Thanks for sharing your heart here... pictures are nice... makes me wonder what it is in the date that makes you remember that song.


Crown of Beauty said...

Okay...Cindy, I figured out the date thing after all. It is the first line of the song!


Crown of Beauty said...

Just came back from google to read up a bit about this song.

Interesting read... very interesting indeed.

Entitled: Mystery of Ode to Billy Joe

Here's the link in case you're interested:


Sara G said...

Thank you for the memories. I had to read this to my husband as one of my favorites. I haven't heard it in a long time but sure does bring back memories!

Cindy Ellison said...

Thank you ... Carol, Shady, Lidj and Sara G!

Carol, hope your comment glitch is fixed by now. I know I sure had the same problem recently with the comments. It was good to hear from you. Have a good weekend!

Shady, that was funny that you associated the fair smells of rabbits and domestic foul (fowl?) with hearing "Ode to Billy Joe" for the first time. I imagine those animal pen smells would be very familiar up on Choctow Ridge. I love county fairs and plan to attend one next month. They were part of my life growing up. A very good comment, thank you Shady!

Lidj, I clicked on the link you shared and learned some new things about "Ode to Billy Joe", thank you! Thank you for the time you spend commenting and visiting my blog. Thanks again! ♥

Sara, the song sure does bring back memories, doesn't it! It reminds me of visiting my best friend and cousin, we used to listen to the song together. Thank you, Sara!

Shady Del Knight said...

Fact: I am a terrible speller, especially when I am tired and sleepy which is much of the time lately. Thanks for pointing out my error. I should have written foul smelling fowl. (LOL)

Cindy Ellison said...

Shady, I saw your comment about the "foul fowl" as being a cute Freudian slip. There is nothing that smells so bad as odors associated with chickens! There is a town in Mississippi that stinks, the entire town because of a chicken processing plant.

The last thing I want is for you to think I was pointing out an error, I didn't mean for it to come across like that but I can see how it did, I apologize. (i was trying to be 'cute', ha!) Your grammer and spelling are the best! Just the other day in a comment on your blog, I wrote something was "fanastic". :-)

Thank you, Shady, for visiting this post again and commenting!

Shady Del Knight said...

Cindy - We need to stop meeting like this on your back pages. Clint'll get suspicious! (LOL) I always like to use the expression "your Freudian slip is showing." I remember that processing plant smell from being around it a few times in my life. Dear friend, I took no offense at all when you corrected me. You ARE cute and you have my complete trust as a friend. I very much enjoy playful people with a sense of humor who aren't afraid to poke me now and then and who get it when I poke them. I have found that trading good natured barbs actually deepens a friendship. My grammar (correcting YOUR spelling lol) and my spelling are far from the best but I am happy to know that you are enjoying my communications. Thank you for taking the time and effort to make sure you hadn't offended me. This is further evidence that you're an award winning blogger and take good care of your friends. I'm proud to be one of them.