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Ode to Billy Joe

From Academic Kids

"Ode to Billy Joe" was a hit song in August-September 1967 written and performed by Bobbie Gentry, a singer-songwriter from Chickasaw County, Mississippi.

Said to be based on a true story, this Southern Gothic song recounts the night of June 3, 1953, when Billy Joe McAllister committed suicide by jumping off the Tallahatchie Bridge on Choctaw Ridge, Mississippi. The song is noteworthy for the mystery surrounding his reasons for jumping off the bridge; in 1975, she revealed to author Herman Raucher that she hadn't come up with a reason when she wrote the song. "Ode" was so popular in 1967 that Frank Sinatra, who loved it, asked jazz great Ella Fitzgerald to sing a few verses for his TV special.

The questions raised by the song were supposedly answered in the 1976 Warner Bros. movie, also titled Ode to Billy Joe, based on the novel by Herman Raucher. The movie starred Robby Benson as Billy Joe, and was produced by Max Baer, Jr. (best known as Jethro on TV's The Beverly Hillbillies).

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