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Mark Roffe Thought for the day - June 3 (8) Lyr Add: ODE TO BILLIE JOE (Bobbie Gentry) 05 Jun 99

OK, Ferrara, I responded to being called "Wicked!"

I don't know if I'm spelling "Choctaw" correctly, and I'm a bit unsure about the exact wording of the line about " this morning up from Choctaw Ridge," but I think I dredged the rest of it out of my memory totally intact!

Sung by Bobby Gentry (I think she also wrote it):

It was the third of June, another sleepy dusty delta day.
I was out chopping cotton and my brother was bailing hay,
And at dinnertime we stopped and walked back to the house to eat,
And mama hollered out the backdoor, "Y'all remember to wipe your feet,"
And then she said, "I got some news this morning up from Choctaw Ridge.
Today Billie Joe McAllister jumped off the Tallahatchie Bridge."

Papa said to mama as he passed around the black-eyed peas,
"Billie Joe never had a lick o' sense. Pass the biscuits, please.
There's five more acres in the lower forty I've got to plow."
And mama said it was a shame about Billie Joe anyhow.
"Seems like nothin' ever comes to no good up on Choctaw Ridge.
And now you tell me Billie Joe's jumped off the Tallahatchie Bridge."

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 talking to him at the church last Sunday night?
"I'll have another piece of apple pie. You know, it don't seem right.
I saw him at the sawmill yesterday up on Choctaw Ridge,
And now you tell me Billie Joe's jumped off the Tallahatchie Bridge."

Mama said to me, "Child, what's happened to your appetite?
I've been cooking all morning and you haven't touched a single bite.
That nice young preacher, Brother Taylor, stopped by today.
Said he'd be pleased to have dinner on Sunday. Oh, by the way,
He said he saw a girl who looked a lot like you up on Choctaw Ridge,
And she and Billie Joe were throwing something off the Tallahatchie Bridge."

A year has come and gone since we heard the news about Billie Joe.
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 want to do much of anything.
And me, I spend a lot of time picking flowers up on Choctaw Ridge,
And drop them into the muddy water off the Tallahatchie Bridge.


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