IT WAS FIFTY YEARS AGO TODAY…(Found in the Connection: Rattling Loose End #110)

…That one “Billie Joe McAllister” jumped off the Tallahatchie Bridge.

You can enter the YouTube rabbit hole at your own risk and track down the live versions Bobbie Gentry performed on various television shows over most of the next decade and literally bear witness as the song takes over first her career and then her life. Each version has its own revelations, but I prefer the one heard here, before the flood consumed even the delicate and beautiful nuances of her accent, a process that had already begun with the recorded version itself, one of the greatest records ever made, which, after half a century of speculation and forty years of Gentry playing the Garbo of the Delta, remains untouchable.

 

8 thoughts on “IT WAS FIFTY YEARS AGO TODAY…(Found in the Connection: Rattling Loose End #110)

    • Oh yeah. Everything I listened to had a slightly different twist. She gave it something new every time…and I loved the response she got from the audience, several years after the song had been a hit, as if everyone knew it was going to be worth celebrating the rest of their lives.

  1. This song has haunted me for fifty years. More than the mystery in the lyrics, it seems to be her voice, that something, a yearning quality, that stays with me.

  2. I think the balance of distance maintained and utter engagement is unique. She’s living it and observing herself at the same time. And you’re right, the singing makes it–takes it to a whole other place. No one quite like her. Wherever she’s keeping herself, I hope she’s found peace.

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