Ode to Billy Joe
Odeto Billy Joe
Odeto Billy Joe
Manypeople try to understand the ideas or themes behind Odeto Billy Joeby Bobbie Gentry, but no one can precisely tell about what Sally andBilly were throwing off the Tallahatchie Bridge. In the song, Bobbietakes the position of the Sally. She is a teenage girl from ChickasawCounty, Mississippi. Sally and Billy were in a romantic relationship.Therefore, it was usual for the lovers to go at Choctaw Ridge, mainlyto talk about their life and also to have a moment. It was a quietplace, hence good for a young couple that had a lot to share.
Apparently,the two spent most of their time at the bridge. It was a spot oftheir choice hence they regularly visited it. Meanwhile, consideringthe reaction of Sally’s family after the news regarding the deathof Billy, it is evident that neither would they love him nor approvehis relationship with Sally. Certainly, they had a baby, one theycould not keep because of various reasons. Firstly, Sally’s familywould be furious about their relationship. Secondly, they were younghence to succeed in parenthood, especially at their time, needed alot of support. They would expect reinforcement from their parents,especially Sally’s, but that seemed as a bad idea. Therefore,judging from the problems undermining the couple, the preacher sawthem dropping something off a bridge most likely, an aborted child.It was the only option that they had to keep their ties both withtheir families and the society though it continued to haunt them.
Meanwhile,before jumping off the bridge, it is conspicuous that Billy had metSally there. Precisely, she says, “I saw him at sawmill yesterdayon Choctaw Ridge” (Dobbs, 2015, stanza 3, line 5). The statement isexplicit that Sally either saw his soul mate at a distance whilepassing or they were both at the Ridge. Notably, they were lovershence being together meant they were comforting each other afterengaging a difficult decision. However, unlike Sally, Billy was inthe worst position. He had only Sally to love, but the situationsencountering their relationship made him weak. Billy could not livewith what they had done. He became remorse not only because of hisactions but also because he could not openly love Sally. Her parentrevealed through their response to his act that none of them wouldaccept him.
Apparently,Billy committed suicide. Sally’s mother reveals the news, “TodayBillie Joe MacAllister jumped off the Tallahatchie Bridge” (Dobbs,2015, stanza 1, line 6). At some point, Choctaw Ridge seems to be adeath spot, in the fact that nothing better originated there. Sallysomehow is surprised to know that no one in the family except her wasshocked with the news about Billy. Instead, they all started tellingtheir views regarding the act. Besides, through Brother Taylor, theyoung preacher, it is clear that Sally had not told her family aboutthe relationship with Billy. “He said he saw a girl that looked alot like you up on Choctaw Ridge” (Dobbs, 2015, stanza 4, line 5).Similarly, Sally’s mother realizes that she has lost appetite afterthe news. It is sad for her to realize that Billy was long gone andher family was busy doing their work. Also, it was sad that shecannot openly mourn her lover, especially because their relationshipwas a secret. Therefore, what was left was to revisit the ChoctawRidge with flowers. “And me, I spend a lot of time picking flowersup on Choctaw Ridge and drop them into the muddy water off theTallahatchie Bridge (Dobbs, 2015, stanza 5, line 5 & 6).
Dobbs,L.M. (2015). OdeTo Billy Joe – with Lyrics by Bobbie Gentry.Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o3TJwI-TfR0
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