Over 35 Years After Bobbie Gentry Vanished, Lorrie Morgan Sings Her Song “Ode To Billie Joe”
Lorrie Morgan / Instagram
In a recent performance, Lorrie Morgan sang her heart out while covering the country classic, “Ode To Billy Joe.” Originally written and sang by Bobbie Gentry – the song talks about the sadness one girl feels after losing a loved one.
It starts out talking about what it is like growing up in the country. From chopping cotton and balin’ hay to church on Sundays and family dinners (complete with homemade biscuits) – the song paints the scene of your typical family out in the country.
Sadness sets in though as we learn that a local boy had taken his life jumping off the Tallahatchie Bridge. The girl singing the song is obviously upset by this loss – while her family seems indifferent to her pain.
At the end of the song, she talks about where they are now. She laments, “And 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 pickin’ flowers up on Choctaw Ridge/ And drop them into the muddy water off the Tallahatchie Bridge”
Bobbie Gentry first sang the song in 1967. Since then, it won eight Grammys and even made it on Rolling Stones 500 Greatest Songs Of All Time. The Tallahatchie Bridge also gained popularity after the song. Since the bridge was only 20 feet tall – it ended up becoming a tradition to jump off it since death or injury was unlikely.
They even have a sign up near the bridge to remember everything Gentry did for the town. It reads: “Born Roberta Lee Streeter in Chickasaw County (1944) and spending her childhood here, Bobbie Gentry brought the accents, sounds, and images of Delta life into the scores of haunting songs she wrote and recordings she made, to become one of the most influential country and pop artists of the 1960s and ’70s. With her phenomenal Number One Hit “Ode to Billie Joe” and complex, innovative albums such as The Delta Sweete, she brought the sultry musical flavors of Mississippi country to the world.”
Unfortunately, the country music world only had a few years with Bobbie Gentry. After abruptly canceling a performance in 1983, she vanished from the scene. Nobody really knows exactly what happened or where she went – but it was made very clear that she no longer wanted to be in the public eye.
Now, 35 years after Gentry disappeared – Lorrie Morgan has immortalized her signature song by recording it for her Letting You Go…Slow album.
While the song and story around it are very solemn – Morgan brought life to it with her twangy vocals when she sang it in Texas. Not to mention, her style is still on point. With a cute pixie cut, dangling earrings, and glittering guitar – Morgan is country glam from head to toe!
She pays tribute to the legendary Bobbie Gentry calling her a “classic” and a “legend.” It is so great to see that tradition is being kept alive.
Make sure to check out her beautiful rendition of the song below and send her some love in the comments section!