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Old January 26 2014, 02:54 AM   #1
Vanyel
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Meaning of "Ode To Billy Joe"

I heard Ode to Billy Joe today. And the same questions came to me as they do every time I hear the song: What was thrown off the Tallahatchie Bridge? Was it the narrator and Billy Joe on the bridge? And, of course, why did Billy Joe jump?

I think that that it was a forbidden romance between the narrator and Billy Joe and that they threw off a Wedding Ring, because she knew she couldn't marry him because he was from the wrong side of town, Choctaw Ridge. As the song put it, "Seems like nothin' ever comes to no good up on Choctaw Ridge." Left by the girl he loved, he kills himself.

Here is an link with some theories:
The Mystery of Ode to Billy Joe

Here's the song:
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Old January 26 2014, 03:02 AM   #2
1001001
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Re: Meaning of "Ode To Billy Joe"

There's a movie that tells the story.

Robbie Benson starred in it.

The singer said she never knew why he jumped, so the movie is just one interpretation.
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Old January 26 2014, 03:10 AM   #3
Vanyel
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Re: Meaning of "Ode To Billy Joe"

1001001 wrote: View Post
There's a movie that tells the story.

Robbie Benson starred in it.

The singer said she never knew why he jumped, so the movie is just one interpretation.
Damn it!

I forgot to put in the OP to not consider the movie since it takes many liberties with the song. And I also made the mistake in the spelling of the song. It should be "Ode To Billie Joe." The movie uses Billy instead. Bad way for me to start this thread.
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Old January 26 2014, 05:13 AM   #4
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Re: Meaning of "Ode To Billy Joe"

I figured it was a body, or a gun that was thrown off the bridge.
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Old January 26 2014, 08:03 AM   #5
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Re: Meaning of "Ode To Billy Joe"

P.S. This was online from a Mississippi museum. It's one of the original verses that was cut from the final version of the song which was originally double in length before being cut by the studio.

Obviously I've not authenticated this.

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Old January 26 2014, 10:58 AM   #6
Vanyel
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Re: Meaning of "Ode To Billy Joe"

I know the original recording was 7 minutes longs as per Wikipedia:
The original recording, with no other musicians backing Gentry's guitar, had eleven verses lasting seven minutes, telling more of Billie Joe's story. The executives realized that this song was a better option for a single, so they cut the length by almost half and re-recorded it with a string orchestra.
ETA: I wonder, if that is one of her drafts, why she spelled it "Billy Jo" and the studio changed it to "Billie Joe".
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Last edited by Vanyel; January 26 2014 at 11:12 AM.
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Old January 26 2014, 12:21 PM   #7
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Re: Meaning of "Ode To Billy Joe"

For some reason, I was under the impression it was a stillborn child that the narrator and Billy Joe had conceived, that wasn't carried to term. Or something like that, something that would have terrible consequences if it came out. It seems like she never talked about it, even after her father died.

I also wondered about a song that came out at the same time called 'The Carroll County Accident', which was also about hijinks in a remote Southern county of the same name.



There may be a third song that mentions Carroll County but I can't remember it.
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Old January 26 2014, 02:37 PM   #8
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Re: Meaning of "Ode To Billy Joe"

1001001 wrote: View Post
There's a movie that tells the story.

Robbie Benson starred in it.

The singer said she never knew why he jumped, so the movie is just one interpretation.
I agree. Watch the movie, and you will get your answer.
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Old January 26 2014, 07:54 PM   #9
Vanyel
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Re: Meaning of "Ode To Billy Joe"

Keith1701 wrote: View Post
1001001 wrote: View Post
There's a movie that tells the story.

Robbie Benson starred in it.

The singer said she never knew why he jumped, so the movie is just one interpretation.
I agree. Watch the movie, and you will get your answer.
That's one idea. However, Wikipedia, Ode To Billy Joe (note the change in spelling) says :

When Gentry and Raucher got together to work on the screenplay, she explained that while the song was based on an actual event, she had no idea why the real person who inspired the character of Billie Joe had killed himself. Raucher thus had a free hand to pick one.
So while the movies explanation is a valid opinion, it is not necessarily the only one (as pointed out), and Gentry herself, said she had no idea why Billie Joe jumped.

Sop please give your idea as to why he jumped and what was thrown off the bridge and why. If you think the movie is correct, say so and why you think so. Don't just give the off hand remark the movie says why; back up your reasoning.
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Old January 26 2014, 08:06 PM   #10
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Re: Meaning of "Ode To Billy Joe"

I was always of the impression that she dumped his body off the bridge.
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Old January 26 2014, 08:13 PM   #11
Vanyel
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Re: Meaning of "Ode To Billy Joe"

The Old Mixer wrote: View Post
I was always of the impression that she dumped his body off the bridge.
Interesting, so am I to understand, in your opinion Billie Joe killed himself somewhere else and she disposed of the body, or did she kill him and dispose of the body?

That idea never once crossed my mind. Very, very interesting take. Thank you for your opinion.
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Old January 26 2014, 09:01 PM   #12
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Re: Meaning of "Ode To Billy Joe"

She did, I presume...after an argument maybe.
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Old January 26 2014, 09:26 PM   #13
Shanndee
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Re: Meaning of "Ode To Billy Joe"

But, if that is the case, how did the preacher see Billy Joe and "a girl who looked a lot like you" throw something of the bridge?

I was always of the belief that it was a stillborn, pre-term baby.
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Old January 28 2014, 12:15 PM   #14
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Re: Meaning of "Ode To Billy Joe"

^ Yep. Exactly.
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Old January 30 2014, 03:14 PM   #15
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Re: Meaning of "Ode To Billy Joe"

I hate that fucking song! I had an English teacher in high school who had discected the thing and spent a whole week on it, which bored us to tears. Later that semester when we had to write a descriptive poem, I wrote 'Ode to Billy Joel' and it ended with Christy Brinkly beating him with his album The Bridge (which had just been released).
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