Sunday, April 2, 2023

Neely-Dorsey: Reminiscing on ‘Ode to Billy Joe’ and Its Mississippi Ties

a a blog ode

It was the 3rd of June, another Sleepy Dusty Delta Day…

a a blog bobbie  gentry 3

I absolutely loved the book and movie Ode to Billy Joe adapted from song “Ode To Billie Joe” by fellow Mississippian Bobbie Gentry. The film was directed and produced by Max Baer, Jr. (of The Beverly Hillbillies fame) and starred Robby Benson and Glynnis O’Connor.

The summer that the movie came out, I think I saw it at least four or five times…and read the book over and over and over again. My father and brother were always teasing me about carrying it around with me all of the time. They’d tease me about my huge crush on Robby Benson, the lead actor in the movie!

The film was set in in 1953 Mississippi. The scenes at the old sawmill were filmed at Cross Lumber Company in Vaiden, Mississippi. The bridge featured in the film crossed the Yazoo River. It has since been replaced by a modern concrete one.

Bobbie Gentry
Bobbie Gentry

Bobbie Gentry was born Roberta Lee Streeter on July 27, 1944 in Chickasaw County, Mississippi. In 1967, Bobbie Gentry scored a massive hit with the song “Ode to Billie Joe”, which peaked at number one on the Billboard pop charts for a whole month. It was originally intended as the B-side of Gentry’s first single recording, a blues number called “Mississippi Delta”, on Capitol Records.

Bobbie won three Grammy Awards for “Ode to Billie Joe” including Best New Artist and Best Vocal Performance by a Female. In addition, the Academy of Country Music named Gentry the Top New Female Vocalist of 1967.

The song is one of my favorites! Of course it was and still is a thrill for me that my hometown, Tupelo, is mentioned in the song.

“A year has come ‘n’ gone since we heard the news ’bout Billie Joe
And Brother married Becky Thompson, they bought a store in Tupelo”

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patricia dorsey

Patricia Neely-Dorsey is the author of two books of poetry, Reflections of a Mississippi Magnolia-A Life In Poems and My Magnolia Memories and Musings-In Poems. Through her poems, the author hopes to protect, preserve and promote the rich cultural history and heritage of her state and region along with providing more positive images than all of the negative images usually portrayed. Patricia lives in Tupelo with her husband James, son Henry and Miniature Schnauzer, Happy. The author has been named a Goodwill Ambassador for the state by Governor Phil Bryant. Her slogan is “Always, Always Celebrating the South and Promoting a Positive Mississippi ” Her website is and her email is

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