Wednesday, August 26, 2015

8/26/1967 Billie Joe goes off a bridge and tops a chart

August 26, 1967.  Bobbie Gentry had a first album most songwriters can barely dream of.   On this date "Ode to Billie Joe" reached Number One on the Billboard chart and stayed there for a month.  It's a song about a family reacting - or more accurately, NOT reacting - to a young man's suicide.  What fascinated the audience was a mystery: What had the narrator and Billie Joe McAllister been throwing off the Talahatchie Bridge?  And how did that relate to his suicide?  No answers came but eight Grammy nominations did, and eventually a movie.  Gentry, however, says the point she was trying to make was the indifference of the family to their neighbor's death - and to the narrator's suffering.

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