Lesson Plan

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Lesson notes

Ode To Billie Joe, by Bobbie Gentry, was released in 1967 and went on to be number one hit for her that year. It is a bit unusual in that it takes the form of a narrative about a rural family in Mississippi, as told through the eyes of the teen age daughter. The guitar accompaniment is really just a sparse fingerpicking pattern, repeated over just a few chords and the song is just a set of five verses with more of a refrain than a chorus (…the Tallahatchee Bridge).

The lyrics are notable in that you are never really told what happened or what was thrown off the bridge. Bobbie Gentry said the song was more about indifference that the family shows over the news that Billie Joe jumped off the bridge.