Why? We may never know.
Just like we may never know what he and Bobbie Lee Hartley (the female lead character in the movie adaptation) fictionally tossed into the water before his suicidal plunge.
Quick movie fact: Did you know that the film “Ode to Billy Joe” – based on Bobbie Gentry’s 1967 song – was directed and produced by Max Baer Jr.?
Yep, that’s right – Jethro from “The Beverly Hillbillies.”
It was made for $1 million and grossed $27 million at the box office. Not bad for 1976. And at least part of it was filmed in Mississippi. Google it, and you can find news articles about filming in Vaiden. Another commenter just told me part of it was shot in Itta Bena.
Last night, I heard the song “Harper Valley P.T.A.” (1968) for the first time in years, and it made me long for more narrative-style songs. Seems like we always remember those. They get stuck in your brain.
And I only recently learned that “Fancy,” another narrative song made popular by Reba McEntire, was also originally written and released by Bobbie Gentry in 1969. Makes perfect sense.
Here’s a couple of YouTube clips of Bobbie Gentry singing that famous song.