Sunday, February 17, 2008
Yahoo LAUNCHCAST Song Of The Day-Bobbie Gentry
Song:Ode To Billy Joe
Album:Chickasaw County Child:The Artistry Of Bobbie Gentry
Most music fans know this song. It was a monster hit in 1968 that fascinated the public. It was Bobbie Gentry's one pop hit so she's labelled as a one hit wonder. She was born Roberta Streeter July 27, 1944 in Chickasaw County, MS. Her parents divorced and she was raised by her grandparents. Her grandmother traded a cow for a piano and Bobbie started composing music as a child. At age 13, she moved to Arcadia, CA to live with her mom and began performing in Los Angeles clubs. She named herself after the 1952 film Ruby Gentry. She worked as a Las Vegas showgirl for a while and studied at the Los Angeles Conservatory Of Music. In 1967 a demo got the attention of Capitol Records producer Kelly Gordon and he signed her. The debut single was Mississippi Delta but the B side Ode To Billy Joe started getting airplay. The song became a huge worldwide hit on the pop, country & soul charts with folks trying to figure out the song. Bobbie has always said that Ode To Billy Joe wasn't about the suicide of Billy Joe McAllister but about the matter of fact way it was discussed around the dinner table. Bobbie Gentry won three Grammys in 1968 including Best New Artist. Bobbie Gentry was never able to duplicate the success of Ode To Billy Joe but she did OK in the Country market especially with a duet album she did with Glen Campbell. She had a summer replacement variety show in 1974 but was dropped by Capitol Records. Warner Bros. turned Ode To Billy Joe into a film in 1976. She released one unsuccessful single for Warners and retired from show business with a 1978 Christmas night appearance on The Tonight Show. She's been out of the limelight ever since so we only remember her as this beautiful girl singing this very strange song. This 2004 comp from Shout! Factory is probably a bit much for most folks. One various artists comp to try is Shout! Factory's 2006 3CD box set Legends Of Country released in conjunction with the PBS special of the same name. Either way, Ode To Billy Joe is a fascinating song after all these years. Here's Bobbie Gentry performing Ode To Billy Joe on the Smothers Brothers show in 1968.