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Words and Music by Bobbie Gentry
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"
'n' 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"
'n' 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
'n' 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-a apple pie, you know it don't seem right"
"I saw him at the sawmill yesterday on Choctaw Ridge"
"And now ya tell me Billie Joe's jumped off the Tallahatchie Bridge"
'n' 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
'n' 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



Lyrics taken from http://www.lyricsmode.com/lyrics/b/bobbie_gentry/ode_to_billy_joe.html

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  • U
    +2
    UnregisteredJul 19, 2012 at 8:54 pm
    Billy joe threw a rag doll over the bridge. Not a baby he got drunk with his boss (a man) an had sex with him that why he jumped. The girl was never pregnant. The preacher was trying to start a rumor. She never had sex with billy joe the just kissed and petted.
  • U
    +2
    UnregisteredJun 11, 2012 at 9:07 pm
    A young couple who have a miscarriage, and throw him/her off the bridge.

    The young man cannot live with this, and kills himself off the same bridge.

    Sad.
  • U
    +1
    UnregisteredAug 7, 2012 at 10:59 pm
    The reason billy joel jumped off the brige was he found out that the night that he was in the tent with what he thought was a girl was really a boy he told his girlfriend about it he couldnt take it an killed himself an it was a ragdoll they threw off the bridge.
  • U
    +1
    UnregisteredMay 3, 2012 at 3:32 pm
    I heard the song when it was new and on the radio. Everyone talked about it, why billy joe had suicided, and most of all what he and the narrator had thrown off the bridge. Almost 45 years later, the song gives me chills.
  • U
    UnregisteredMar 14, 2012 at 7:30 pm
    In the made for theater movie with robbie benson(billy joe) and glennis o'conner(bobbie lee),she had a small ragdoll she always kept with her, he teased her about it ,said she was a baby for havin' a doll and it was time to grow up & get rid of it. He dropped her ragdoll off the bridge accidently, teasing her, acting like he was gonna drop it, then did. They were madly in love. (she was 15 he was 17 i think) they had sex once & were talkin' marriage, then he was raped by his boss at the sawmill the night before the suicide, her brother was leaving work & their boss asked billy joe to stay late. He told bobbie lee about it, she said it wasn't his fault blah blah, he couldn't handle the shame & felt he was no longer a man and he killed himself so she could find a "real man" to love. She was the only one at the table who knew any of this plot line,so she was devestated but couldn't show it. She was pregnant & went to live with relatives in tupelo til she had the baby/ which she gave up for adoption then moved back home. It was the same relatives her brother & his new wife becky bought the store from. Not said but i think it was payment for keeping bobbie lee & her secret. Seems like the whole movie timeline is just one summer or a few weeks of summer, so the dinnertime conversation was like a snapshot of the events of that coming of age first love tragedy. Its a great movie made from an even greater song. I love the way she makes a point of their activities & other conversation not matching the seriousness of the event in relation to her feelings about it... They're just like and in other news blah blah, while she is reeling from the blow. I didn't see the made for tv movie mentioned above with the boy in the tent.

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