Foreward, by Jill Sobule Chapter 1: Out of a Swamp Fog Chapter 2: Where is Bobbie Gentry? Chapter 3: The Bobbiebilia Chapter 4: Chickasaw County Child Chapter 5: Becoming Bobbie Gentry Chapter 6: "Produced by Kelly Gordon and Bobby Paris" Chapter 7: The Summer of "Ode to Billie Joe" Chapter 8: Capitol Pre-Orders Five Times as Many Records as Meet the Beatles Chapter 9: The Capitol Years Chapter 10: Viva Las Vegas Chapter 11: What the Song Didn't Tell You, the Movie Will Chapter 12: So I'm Packin' Up and I'm Checking Out
An in-depth study of the extraordinary rise to fame of Bobbie Gentry and her subsequent career and withdrawal from public life.
Tara Murtha is a journalist based in Philadelphia, USA.
Tara Murtha examines that song and the rest of Bobbi Gentry's
career in Ode To Billie Joe, the latest release in the 33 1/3
series of books. It is a wonderfully compelling book and the best
I've read in the series since "Television: Marquee Moon." Perhaps
it's her background as a reporter, but Murtha does not go down the
pedantic path that many of the books in this series seem to do
lately. Instead, the author presents a fascinating study of Gentry
and her career-defining debut. That's right; "Ode to Billie Joe"
was her debut recording. Wow. -- Steve J * AllMusicBooks *
Murtha pulls free the threads of truth from a tangled knot of personal mythology and contradictions. Her book is likely to be a hit with casual listeners and pop-culture obsessives alike. -- Katie Haegele * Utne Reader *
Philadelphia journalist Tara Murtha has dug deep into the story behind Gentry's song with the latest entry in the '33 1/3' book series devoted to various pop albums of significance... Murtha charts Gentry's challenges as a musician who in her teens was most interested in selling her songs to other singers, not recording them herself. But once she did get into the position of recording, she was up against a male-dominated record industry that offered little validation to a young woman with her own ideas about performance and production. -- Randy Lewis * L.A. Times *
While Murtha's exploration of the Gentry myth is fascinating, the writer also takes pains to ensure that the myth - as well as Gentry's sexual aura - will not eclipse her real achievement [...] Murtha's gem of a book is, above all, a testament to the enduring complexity of Bobbie Gentry. -- Helen W. Mallon * Philly.com *
Murtha's book conveys a Bobbie Gentry who knew what she wanted and then went about to get it. For the past 30 years, Bobbie Gentry has wanted to be left alone. The closest Murtha gets to Gentry is when she tries on an old fur coat of hers that ended up in the closet of her step-brother in Oregon, who only met Gentry once. This isn't nearly enough for Murtha ... Tara Murtha's accessible and engaging book is a welcome addition to the 33 1/3 Series. I believe her Ode to Bobbie Gentry will succeed in attaining renewed attention and interest in her music. -- Aaron Goldstein * The American Spectator *
In Ode To Billie Joe, a new contribution to Bloomsbury's 33 1/3 series, journalist Tara Murtha puts Gentry's feminism and efforts to control her own image at the center of the work, which re-introduces the world to Bobbie Gentry ... Today, it is unclear where she lives and remains in touch with only a few friends from her days in show business - leaving many questions unanswered. Ode To Billie Joe is a 'looking glass that cuts both ways,' Murtha writes. 'The wild commercial success of 'Ode' transformed Gentry from an unknown working musician to an international star. But it also ... ultimately served to obscure a larger, richer body of work - and caged the artist into a persona she spent the rest of her career trying to transcend.' -- Audrey White * The Quietus *
Who was Billie Joe McAllister and why did he die? ... There's another riddle to be solved: that of Gentry herself ... The American journalist Tara Murtha, in her recently published book Ode to Billie Joe (Bloomsbury), attempts to solve these mysteries. Her book, then, is a reporter's quest that takes her across America to find people who knew Gentry and are willing to talk ... She finds plenty of them. -- Karl Whitney * Irish Times *