[x]Blackmoor Vituperative

Thursday, 2011-08-11

Ode to Billy Joe

Filed under: Family,Music — bblackmoor @ 09:39

When Herman Raucher met Gentry in preparation for writing a novel and screenplay based on the song, she confessed that she had no idea why Billie Joe killed himself. Gentry has, however, commented on the song, saying that its real theme was indifference:

Those questions are of secondary importance in my mind. The story of Billie Joe has two more interesting underlying themes. First, the illustration of a group of peoples’ reactions to the life and death of Billie Joe, and its subsequent effect on their lives, is made. Second, the obvious gap between the girl and her mother is shown when both women experience a common loss (first Billie Joe, and later, Papa), and yet Mama and the girl are unable to recognize their mutual loss or share their grief.

(from Ode to Billy Joe, Wikipedia)

My family is from North Carolina, and I had a cousin who committed suicide when I was seven or eight. It was the first funeral I ever attended. I remember that I had a hard time trying to keep from giggling (I didn’t think it was funny: it was nervous laughter, an involuntary response to anxiety).