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Chart (1967) Peak position
Australia (Go-Set) 4
Canada RPM Top Singles 1
Ireland (IRMA) 6
New Zealand (Listener) 3
South Africa (Springbok Radio) 11
UK Singles Chart 13
U.S. Billboard Hot 100 1
U.S. Billboard Easy Listening 7
U.S. Billboard R&B Singles 8
U.S. Billboard Country Singles 17



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100 Greatest Country Songs of All Time

By Rolling Stone

June 1, 2014 4:00PM ET

[47] Bobbie Gentry, ‘Ode to Billie Joe’ (1967)


Innuendo has always played a role in folk and country music. But few songs piqued the pop crossover crowd's curiosity more than Mississippi-born, Los Angeles-schooled Bobbie Gentry's 1967 debut, in which an adolescent narrator and her family sit around the dinner table passing biscuits and gossiping about Billie Joe McAllister's descent from the Tallahatchie Bridge. McAllister threw something else off it a day earlier and Gentry never reveals what it was. "The song is sort of a study in unconscious cruelty," she once said of the family's nonchalant attitude to the suicide. Released as the B-side to "Mississippi Delta," "Ode" is a sultry country blues that drifts downstream on Gentry's ominous acoustic guitar. Arranger Jimmie Haskell added dramatic strings, and three minutes were edited from her seven-minute original. Saxophonist Lou Donaldson's funky 1967 instrumental version was sampled on dozens of hip-hop songs. By Richard Gehr


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