Here's to Bobbie Gentry! Wooooooo!
May 29, 2007 10:33 PM   Subscribe

Somewhere along the line you've probably heard Bobbie Gentry's brilliant signature tune, Ode To Billy Joe, but unlike previously, now you can see a sad-eyed Bobbie perform it live, displaying the understated Southern soul delivery that, in addition to the delicious lyrics, lazy tempo and no-drums arrangement, made the tune such a milestone in US pop music history. But there was another side to Bobbie: down-home sex kitten! The gal could work a fire-engine red catsuit. Check her out! Go Bobbie!
posted by flapjax at midnite (21 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
And here's one more clip: Bobbie in an odd little duet with none other than Donovan. Highly unexpected!

Record jacket.

Bobbie in a tree.

Bobbie with dogs.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 10:35 PM on May 29, 2007

1- great post, 2 - damn she's hot, 3 - I love Donovan. You hit the trifecta flapjax!
posted by vronsky at 10:58 PM on May 29, 2007

You know the story. Billy Joe throws something off a bridge and later decides to go after it.

Now that's a fucking summary.
posted by Clay201 at 11:03 PM on May 29, 2007

Clay201: Didn't you get the memo? Quoting YouTube comments is now a bannable offense on MeFi. Watch yourself! ;-)
posted by flapjax at midnite at 11:12 PM on May 29, 2007

Previously on this topic.
posted by jonson at 11:21 PM on May 29, 2007

Jeez, jonson, did I misspell "previously" in the FPP? Nope... Fuck up the link? Nope... hmmm, something tells me you, er, didn't read the FPP. Check out the clips, though, if you have the time! They're really pretty cool. Love ya, man.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 11:25 PM on May 29, 2007 [2 favorites]

Nice post, I really love Bobbie Gentry. Does anyone else find the song "Fancy" completely disturbing? It's one of the few songs I hear and think (still), "Man, that's a fucked up song."
posted by sleepy pete at 11:48 PM on May 29, 2007

Flapjax, weirdly, I retro-tagged the original post just the other day and, on the strength of re-reading it, dug out my old "Best of" album. And now the cycle is complete... Cheers for the post.
posted by Jofus at 1:53 AM on May 30, 2007

hot. hot. hot. beats anything on vh1.
posted by shockingbluamp at 3:31 AM on May 30, 2007

Thank you so very, very much.
posted by loosemouth at 3:54 AM on May 30, 2007

Wow, this is the first time I've ever heard the original version of Fancy, as I was previously only acquainted with the Reba McEntire cover, and I'm very surprised at how very much alike the two renditions are... remove a particle of twang from Reba's, and it's almost a complete vocal match... with the exception of a few odd vocal inflections tiny modulations that Reba uses to sell the song.
posted by The Confessor at 6:05 AM on May 30, 2007

How odd. I was just thinking how completely different the Reba and Bobbie versions of Fancy are. Of course, I was also thinking she looked tremendously stiff and awkward in the red catsuit, so maybe I'm just completely backwards from MetaFilter today.
posted by jacquilynne at 6:33 AM on May 30, 2007

As I was listening to "Ode to Billie Joe" it occurred to me that Dylan's wonderful "Clothesline Saga" was something of a response to it. Then I checked out the "Previously" and discovered it was jonmc who gave me that thought back in 2003. Thanks for the post (and to jonmc for his)!
posted by languagehat at 6:46 AM on May 30, 2007

I adore that song. And I also love Joe Dassin's French version entitled Marie-Jeanne (but can't find any video or audio to share).
posted by Lezzles at 7:01 AM on May 30, 2007

Oh, man, this is disturbing. My favorite version of that song is a blues version by a two-person band called Chicago Brother and Sister Blues Band that I used to see performing on the street in San Francisco.

So I googled them to see if I could give a link, and apparently, to put it mildly, they broke up. In that it looks like he bashed her head in with a hammer and stashed the body.

posted by gurple at 8:15 AM on May 30, 2007

When I was little, I used to deck myself out in my mom's clothes and make up (complete with stuffed bra) and belt out songs into a hairbrush/microphone. Ode to Billie Joe was on heavy rotation, as were other story songs like Harper Valley PTA, The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia, Fancy and my favorite, Delta Dawn. They were the most fun because they were the most dramatic. As I grew older, I replaced the hairbrush with a curling iron (more mic-like and the cord gave an added air of authenticity), and included some ABBA tunes in the show, but I never stopped loving those songs.
posted by jrossi4r at 8:30 AM on May 30, 2007

Wow indeed. Thanks for the link, gurple (sad and horrible as it is)—a well-reported story, if a little heavy on the blues quotes.
posted by languagehat at 8:50 AM on May 30, 2007

sorry flapjax! I watched the clips but didn't catch the previously!
posted by jonson at 9:03 AM on May 30, 2007

I really like Bobbie Gentry - I went out and bought everything I could find when I heard Ode to Billie Joe. It's cool to see her perform these. I wonder if I watched any of these when I was a little kid and they were on the air.

gurple, that story was really sad. It sounds like they came pretty far and then to lose everything like that, so horribly.
posted by ugf at 9:06 AM on May 30, 2007

Great post. I always imagined the singer of Billy Joe would look more like a long-haired hippie chick in jeans. Really cool to see these clips and be pleasantly surprised (though she does look really uncomfortable in the red catsuit, as jacquilynne points out). The duet with Donovan was odd, but awesome. Thanks!
posted by oneirodynia at 9:35 AM on May 30, 2007

Bobbie Gentry TV Soundtrack - BBC2 - with Donovan (July 27, 1968) and James Taylor (July 17, 1969). "This does not exist in the archives. It was wiped by the BBC sometime in the '70s. This and the reel [off-air master, 1 7/8 ips] from which it came could quite possibly be the only existing copy. Time to set it free..."
posted by tellurian at 4:07 PM on June 17, 2007

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