Voted #412 in Rolling Stone Magazine’s top 500 Greatest Songs of All Time, here’s a story and a half from Ms Bobbi Gentry…..
There has been much speculation about what it was that was thrown of the Tallahatchie Bridge, my own 70s brain, boggled to the consistency of jello by a diet of Top Cat, Scooby Doo and The Double Deckers decided that they threw A BABY off the Bridge. I *know* SO Jerry Springer of me.
But there are other, less macabre, suggestions such as a wedding ring, Billy-Joe’s draft card or even an LSD bottle. Bobbi Gentry said that even SHE didn’t know what it was!
What do you think it was the two young people threw into the deep waters below? Would it depend on the two Court Cards doing the chucking? If Billy Joe is a troubled King of Cups, would he fling himself into oblivion at the thought of going off to war? Would a Queen of Wands with dreams of a bright future fling an unwanted child off it? What would the Page of Cups and the Page of Pentacles not want anyone to know about?!
Clearly defined characters abound in this song – from the family casually discussing Billy-Joe’s death in the same breath as ‘pass the pumpkin pie’…. to how Ma deteriorates after Daddy dies after an illness.
I believe in leaving you something INSANELY cheeful for the weekend. Not. 😀
It’s been an awful week where the much-dreaded invasion of Ukraine by Russian Federation forces began and the world looks on in horror. This is not a blog discussing the rights or wrongs of either Read more…
Tarot By Arwen · 21st February 2012 at 9:11 pm
I bought the baby story. She had an illegitimate child and tossed it. 🙁 Court? Page of Swords Rx
alisoncross · 22nd February 2012 at 10:13 am
I can see her as Page of Swords Rx and him as Page of Cups Rx – his emotions feeding off her Swordsy solution to the problem. Thoughts beget emotions 😀
Cheryl · 19th February 2012 at 10:17 pm
I got that idea from a movie I watched back in the day with Robbie Benson – they threw a teddy bear off the bridge. I think maybe he was more of the Page of Cups – reversed liked. Ability to trust shattered in childhood, too pure of a soul, can't take the world the way it is as it is too cruel. Very sensitive, hyper-sensitive actually.
alisoncross · 22nd February 2012 at 10:11 am
Page of Cups is VERY sensitive…. totally agree 🙂
alisoncross · 19th February 2012 at 12:57 pm
I never thought of that! Whose teddy would it be? His? Marking the end of his childhood?! Before he gets called off to fight?! I haz a very vivid imagination 😀
Cheryl · 18th February 2012 at 6:53 pm
I thought it was a teddy bear.
alisoncross · 17th February 2012 at 7:33 pm
Carla – that's sooooooo good! I do like the idea of them just chucking rocks off. Maybe that's what gives Billy Jo the idea to chuck himself off? The only thing that I would suggest is that killing himself would maybe be a reversed sort of activity, rather than rightsides?
I always imagine it as a bridge over a deep, deep gorge with a deep, wide, fast flowing river far, far below!
Carla · 18th February 2012 at 7:31 am
Certainly Knight of Cups Rx, but I don't actually turn my cards upside down, I just see the shadow meaning when it's called for. The actual bridge was a rickety wooden affair over a sluggish, brown river. Not a romantic way to perish! (Unless you're a Knight of Cups Rx and it's the most dramatic suicide method in town).
Carla · 17th February 2012 at 5:18 pm
I have loved this song all my life. It came out he year I was born. 🙂 My dad was from Tupelo, Mississippi; I was raised in the Delta. I have eaten my share of black-eyed peas! The Tallahatchie Bridge referenced in the song is pretty much directly across the state from where my family is from in Greenwood Springs, Mississippi. Anyway, the world of this song is familiar to me.
I heard at school it was a baby they threw off the bridge, but I didn't think that made any sense. And of course, I saw the movie–but I didn't think it made much sense either, the plot of Billy Joe having had a homosexual encounter. It seemed unlikely. I always just thought Billy Joe killed himself because he was screwed up emotionally, and I didn't think the throwing of things off the bridge had any significance. I figured they were throwing rocks or something. I've walked down dusty roads plenty of times and thrown things idly in the water…I can see it happening clearly. Maybe the unnamed narrator rejected Billy Joe's advances beyond friendship. Then his suicide would be a sort of Knight of Cups thing to do. Billy Joe certainly strikes me as the Knight of Cups type. Mama is Queen of Pentacles, presiding over the family table with her quiet voice. The centre falls out of her world when her King dies. Papa is King of Pentacles, sensible and intolerant of emotional foolishness and more concerned with getting his crop in and taking care of the family. Brother is the Knight of Wands, he's surprised that Billy Joe did it (it would never occur to the Knight of Wands to off himself) and then he goes off across the state and buys himself a store. Adventurous. The narrator is Page or Princess of Swords. She sees the truth of disaffected reaction of the family and seems a bit disaffected by it as well. Her picking flowers and throwing them off the bridge is more a symbol of her trying to make sense of it all than anything else. That's my take.