Remember the speakers
I got recently? Here's how good they are: I have just gained a significant understanding of a song I've listened to maybe 200 times.
The song is Ode To Billy Joe. Many fine artists have done versions of it, including Danish avant-garde rock band Sort Sol. Their version
is astounding, especially the last half.
But today I was listening to Sinead O'Connor's version
. And suddenly, way in the background of the sound-picture, I heard the faint cry of a baby. I muted my Mac/speakers and listened for perhaps a visiting infant at the neighbors. Nothing. I replayed a bit of the song. There it was again! ... And the baby's wail came right after the line in the song: "... And she and Billy Joe was throwing something off the Tallahatchie Bridge..."
A chill ran down my back! I suddenly understood the story.
I do say though that the lyrics
themselves, In Bobbie Gentry's original version and without this hint, really don't tell the story on their own. At least I don't see how I could have gotten it, and I guess most people don't. Rather on the subtle side.
But then Bobbie Gentry has stated that she did not know why the characters did what they did, so clearly this is just one interpretation. I very much respect her position on this. One of my most successful drawings is the Swan And The Swine
, made for a poster for a concert. And people have asked me "is it a tree or a mushroom cloud". And I have to say "I don't know". I just know it has the shape that it has. (Oh, the original poster had no color.)
One of the cool and interesting things about art is that it goes beyond what we readily grasp with logic, often even in the creator's mind.
Update: Hm, the more I think about it, the more I lean towards the baby thing being just one interpretation. I mean, how would a country teenage girl hide a pregnancy from everybody? Maybe the story is more complex. Maybe it does not matter what they threw off the bridge.