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Friday, November 6, 2009

What does Bob Dylan know?

Thanks to a friend of mine, I've been stuck in an endless loop of memories this afternoon; memories drawn from my life and thoughts during the time that the song, "Ode to Billy Joe" was popular.

Thanks to this being the Age of the Internet, it's easy to find information concerning just about anything - oftentimes, too much for my taste. But in this case, I found some quite interesting tidbits and commentary about the bluesy ode to life in the Mississippi Delta made famous by Bobbie Gentry.

As a writer I'd love to capture the emotion and atmosphere of Ode to Billie Joe in some of my work. I never knew how difficult it was to write a short story until I tried to write one and get it published. Reading the lyrics to this song, I am amazed at the depth of Ode's story captured in these few words.

And then I read a commentary that claimed the Bob Dylan song, "Clothesline Saga" was written as a parody of Gentry's classic - that he hated Ode to Billie Joe.

Anyone with an imagination; anyone that has lived - or even passed through - a rural area, especially in the clinging heat of June, can wonder at the hidden mysteries of a seemingly simple people.

Country folks' lives are full of mystery and wonder. But what would Bob Dylan know about that?



  1. I remember this song from when I was a little kid. And I remember seeing the moive on tv.

    That story about Bob Dylan just might be true. Another simiilar example: Apparently, his song "Idiot Wind" was an angry "ode" to his wife who was in the process of divorcing him during the time he wrote the song. If you listen closely to the lyrics, you'll hear how raging and vicious it is. I guess he didn't like his wife much at that time either.

  2. What chapped me was the apparent disdain that Dylan had for the lyrics - that they were nonsensical. As I noted above, I thought there was a ton of depth, meaning and mystery in Ode to Billy Joe. Of course, growing up in the south may have colored my perception but regardless, I think Dylan missed the boat on this one.

    Oh, and I was a little kid too when this was released :-)


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