Sunday, May 10, 2020

Sunday Music: Ode To Billy Joe

Monster Number One hit of 1967, taking Bobby Gentry from country nobody trying to sell her songs to other artists, to top act in the country. The album it spawned pushed the Beatles' Sgt. Pepper album off the top of the heap, and the song won Gentry three Grammys (out of eight nominations). She sang and played guitar on what became the master cut, literally dripping with Southern melancholy, as a demo because "it was cheaper than hiring someone else to do it". It remains on just about every "Top Song" list of American contemporary music, and probably always will. Gentry, now 77, has quietly retired, and hasn't been seen or heard from in public since the early 1980s. We'd like to think (and hope) that somewhere she has a steamer trunk full of songs and tapes covering the last 40 years that will someday see daylight, but if this one song was all she'd ever done, she'd still be a music legend.


Badger said...

Epic. Reminded people, "pay attention, this is called a BALLAD."

Chip Anderson said...

I loves me some Bobby Gentry, always fancied her in that tight red outfit performing "Fancy". What wonderful years for music, "When The Levee Breaks" we'll be "Dazed and Confused"(yeah, I know) and then in '74, "Working Man", etc. On a personal note, I always had an affinity for "When the Levee Breaks" as Great Grandpa Littell(Opelousas, LA) was said to have delivered babies while making his rounds in a pirogue during The Great Flood of 1927.

Aggie said...

She's always been a mysterious character to me. Huge talent, then after The Ballad, Vegas. And then variety show on the BBC, and then poof! Vanished at the top of her career - just like an Atlas Shrugged character. I think she hated the poison of the industry, like Cat Stevens.