The Winter 2010 issue of Venus Zine* hid a big surprise for me – an article about Bobbie Gentry. In a publication filled with artists I haven’t heard of yet, seeing an article about someone I could place was not only interesting, it was a relief.
But enough about my coolness withering at the vine! “Who the hell is Bobbie Gentry?” you ask. Well, she was a country artist in the late 60’s, who had a monster hit with “Ode to Billie Joe.” “Ode” tells about a hot June day with some interesting news at dinner. Watch for yourself!
Venus Zine writer Tara Murtha says the hook of the song is in its mystery. What did Billie Joe throw off the Tallahatchie Bridge? Why did he follow that object? Bob Dylan and the Beach Boys wrote answer songs.
Gentry never gave us the answer. Murtha details Gentry’s career, which led her to Vegas shows, a BBC chat program and the Armed Forces Radio Network. After an appearance on Johnny Carson in December 1978, she stepped off stage and didn’t look back.
The rest of the article details Murtha’s search for Gentry, who is purported to be living quietly in the Hollywood Hills AND a part-owner of the Phoenix Suns (!) The biggest lead she received was a box of memorabilia from a man who says he’s related to the singer. And, as the article ends, Murtha’s planning trips to Los Angeles and Mississippi to learn more about Gentry for a bigger project, maybe a biography.
I wish Murtha the best of luck.
(*In the interest of full disclosure, I wrote for Venus Zine’s web site in the past.)