Ode To Billy Joe Uke tab by Bobbie Gentry

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Twas the third of june another sleepy dusty delta day
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I was out choppin cotton and my brother was balin' hay
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And at dinner time we stopped and walked back to the house to eat
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And Mama hollered out the back door y'all remember to wipe your feet
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And then she said I got some news this mornin' from Choctaw Ridge
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Today Billy Joe MacAllister jumped off the Tallahatchie Bridge

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And Papa said to Mama as he passed around the blackeyed peas
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Well Billy Joe never had a lick of sense pass the biscuits please
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There's five more acres in the lower forty I've got to plow
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And Mama said it was shame about Billy Joe anyhow
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Seems like nothin' ever comes to no good up on Choctaw Ridge
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And now Billy Joe MacAllister's jumped off the Tallahatchie Bridge

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And Brother said he recollected when he and Tom and Billie Joe
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Put a frog down my back at the Carroll County picture show
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And wasn't I talkin' to him after church last Sunday night
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I'll have another piece of apple pie you know it don't seem right
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I saw him at the sawmill yesterday on Choctaw Ridge
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And now you tell me Billie Joe's jumped off the Tallahatchie Bridge

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And Mama said to me Child what's happened to your appetite
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I've been cookin' all morning and you haven't touched a single bite
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That nice young preacher Brother Taylor dropped by today
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Said he'd be pleased to have dinner on Sunday oh by the way
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He said he saw a girl that looked a lot like you up on Choctaw Ridge
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And she and Billy Joe was throwing somethin' off the Tallahatchie Bridge

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A chordA year has come 'n' gone since we heard the news 'bout Billy Joe
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And Brother married Becky Thompson they bought a store in Tupelo
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There was a virus going 'round Papa caught it and he died last Spring
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And now Mama doesn't seem to wanna do much of anything
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And me I spend a lot of time pickin' flowers up on Choctaw Ridge

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And drop them into the muddy water off the Tallahatchie Bridge

 

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About this song

The Ode To Billie Joe Songfacts reports that this song tells the story of a guy who kills himself by jumping off the Tallahatchie Bridge. There really was a Tallahatchie Bridge in Greenwood, Mississippi, but Gentry made up the story. The Tallahatchie Bridge collapsed in 1972.