Here journalist Tara Murtha goes into full detective-mode as she tells the story not only of the wonderful Ode To Bille Joe record but in her entry to the 33 1/3 series it is as much about the “disappearance” of Bobby Gentry, the singer and writer behind the songs.
Gentry chose to walk away from the music industry – she’s still alive and there are stories suggesting she still makes (or at least writes) music. But she has not been caught performing as Bobbie (or Bobby) Gentry nor are there any recordings.
She had hits, she had a handful of wonderful records – that were as much movies as they were albums, in the case of Billie Joe’s title track there’s a story (to this day, arguably unresolved) in the space of just one song.
Murtha takes us through the recording, sets the scene, gives the context around the album and its songs but also takes us on the journey of attempting to contact Gentry and the people she spoke with who have stories, who have retained memorabilia, who are connected with the Bobbie Gentry from the Billie Joe era.
It’s a wonderful story to full – largely because of that intrigue. That said, the music stands up and if this is your pathway to discovering/rediscovering that fantastic music the book has more than done its job.