Another sleepy, dusty day.

My best boss ever, Richard Battin, used to spice up the Friday news meetings in our old joint with a quiz. It was just a way to enliven a long, otherwise horrible 40 minutes with a little brain-teasing — car names, lines from movies, that sort of thing. (I always thought he should publish them or syndicate them, or something. Editors everywhere would thank him.) He gave one at this time of year testing your knowledge of Bobbie Gentry’s “Ode to Billie Joe.” In his honor, then, let’s have our own Friday fun, shall we?

No fair Googling. And when you’re done, check your answers against this fine performance by Bobbie Gentry:

That’s all for today, folks.

Posted at 12:00 am in Popculch |

56 responses to “Another sleepy, dusty day.”

  1. Dave said on June 1, 2007 at 1:51 am

    Nancy, I got a 75% without cheating a bit. Just confirms what I suspect, that I’ve got too much useless information retained for my own good.

    142 chars

  2. basset said on June 1, 2007 at 2:13 am

    75 for me too. now throw a Beatles quiz up there and we’ll see how THAT one goes…

    85 chars

  3. Kim said on June 1, 2007 at 6:52 am

    30 — I think there’s hope for me.

    What a great, great boss. He probably left newspapers, too, eh?

    101 chars

  4. John said on June 1, 2007 at 6:59 am

    70%. No cheating, just have heard this song about a gadzillion times. The real question is why and what was thrown off the bridge? Who likes the baby theory and who likes the gay theory? I always thought the baby theory made sense.

    235 chars

  5. Jeff said on June 1, 2007 at 7:19 am

    20%. Thanks, Nancy, now i spend all Friday feeling chastened and ignr’nt.

    74 chars

  6. nancy said on June 1, 2007 at 7:20 am

    Kim: Yep. He landed at another newspaper, but not in the newsroom. Back in the early days of the internet, when we had one computer with dial-up access in a public area, he set up a screensaver: A picture of Alan in 1977, when he looked like Bob Seger. He offered a prize to anyone who could identify this current member of the newsroom staff. No one ever got it.

    (Unrelated punchline: This was the computer where certain mouth-breathing members of the sports staff tried to bookmark their favorite porn sites. And they wonder why sports gets no respect.)

    As for what was thrown off the bridge, I’ve given it my share of thought, but ultimately I think these are depths best left unplumbed. We’ll never know what was in the briefcase in “Pulp Fiction,” either, but the mystery reminds us: It’s the journey, not the destination.

    833 chars

  7. John said on June 1, 2007 at 7:38 am

    So true Nancy. I like your reference to the briefcase and it is always the journey.

    84 chars

  8. nancy said on June 1, 2007 at 7:43 am

    I should add: My continuing reputation for having a tiny bit of hipster street cred depends on pointing out that Tarantino ripped off the glowing-briefcase thing from “Repo Man.”

    178 chars

  9. Kirk said on June 1, 2007 at 7:44 am

    70 percent. I’ll settle for that. It’s one of those songs I kept hearing on AM radio between the Beatles, Stones and Who songs I really wanted to hear.

    151 chars

  10. brian stouder said on June 1, 2007 at 7:50 am

    Great – I just Flagged a Friday pop-quiz (40%!) which just sets the weekend off on the wrong foot. But I guess we WERE warned…

    I don’t remember the briefcase in Pulp Fiction (all I remember is Samuel Jackson and John Travolta’s banter, plus the main criminal and Bruce Willis in the hands of the demented deputy) but I DO remember the brief case in Ronin

    361 chars

  11. MarkH said on June 1, 2007 at 9:00 am

    I’m disappointed. I was sure I got ’em all, but ended up with 80%. Was a freshman in H.S., I was, when that came out; remember it well, but…

    And, no, I’m way too proud to cheat.

    182 chars

  12. MarkH said on June 1, 2007 at 9:02 am

    BTW, anyone remember who Bobbie Gentry ended up marrying? (No Googling).

    72 chars

  13. Kirk said on June 1, 2007 at 9:26 am

    Wasn’t Jim Nabors, was it?

    26 chars

  14. Kirk said on June 1, 2007 at 9:27 am

    Nope, I guess not.

    18 chars

  15. brian stouder said on June 1, 2007 at 9:39 am

    I would guess some heavy-hitter in another field would be the ironic surprise here….like Eric Severide or Lee Iacoca…or maybe an ironically named person like Lloyd Bridges

    (the old joke about Gomer was that Rock Hudson didn’t have many friends, but he had Nabors up the ass)

    285 chars

  16. Joe Kobiela said on June 1, 2007 at 9:46 am

    Got 18 out of 20 and could really argue the one I got wrong, about no good coming on chotaw ridge. Missed Papa needed to plow 5 acres, I thought ten. Took me about a minute to do the quiz, lots of fun. Have a great weekend all.
    Down in Auburn In

    252 chars

  17. LA mary said on June 1, 2007 at 9:55 am

    She married Mr. Harrah of Harrah’s casino.

    42 chars

  18. LA mary said on June 1, 2007 at 9:56 am

    I got 80%, better than I thought I would.

    41 chars

  19. nancy said on June 1, 2007 at 9:57 am

    I decided Mama’s “seems like” was enough of a qualifier to make it fuzzy. Besides, who’s to say what might have happened up on Choctaw Ridge at some point in the past? Aren’t we negating the possible happy events of, say, the Choctaws? Hmpf.

    I wiki’d for Mr. Bobbie Gentry with no luck, but did discover she was a philosophy major at UCLA. As they say down in the Delta, shut my mouth.

    Sometime in the future I’ll do a quiz on “Fancy,” one of those songs that made all that PMRC whining about nasty lyrics sound overheated. I mean, if Bobbie Gentry could get a song about a mother turning her daughter out as a prostitute on Top 40 radio in the ’60s, Prince and Twisted Sister can hardly be seen as the devil in disguise.

    727 chars

  20. Dorothy said on June 1, 2007 at 10:26 am

    30%. Ah well, my memory isn’t what it used to be.

    49 chars

  21. LA mary said on June 1, 2007 at 10:28 am

    Now I have googled it and she married someone else after Bill Harrah. I’m not telling though, since I googled it and that’s cheating.
    I think the Choctaws were no longer having anything good up on their ridge since a bunch of crackers had taken over the area. I still say nothing good ever happens up there, and it’s not just an opinion. Name one good thing.

    359 chars

  22. ashley said on June 1, 2007 at 10:29 am

    50%. I’m a failure to my heritage. Or maybe I’m just younger than all y’all. I have, however, driven across the Tallahatchie.

    Repo Man — now *there’s* a movie. I particularly liked the lounge-lizard version of “When the shit hits the fan”.

    247 chars

  23. LA mary said on June 1, 2007 at 10:33 am

    Feelin’ Seven up, I’m feelin’ seven up…

    41 chars

  24. Connie said on June 1, 2007 at 11:05 am

    40%. Pretty bad for someone who claims she knows all the words to all the songs. (I sang the beginning of “Sitting here in Limbo” to someone on the phone this morning.)

    170 chars

  25. MarkH said on June 1, 2007 at 11:24 am

    Way to go, mary and Joe K.

    It was indeed Bill Harrah. I remember reading long ago about Bobbie’s philosophy major. She really did a disappearing act after the wedding to Bill. Out of the business altogether, it seemed. I always had the impression she was way smarter than anyone else in the biz; so smart, she went on to, well, whatever….

    I’m keeping myself in suspense about spouse #2.

    394 chars

  26. LA mary said on June 1, 2007 at 11:30 am

    Want a hint?

    12 chars

  27. Mindy said on June 1, 2007 at 11:32 am

    35%, very shameful. I got Billie Joe’d to death long after the song became a moldy oldie. A friend I had as a teenager claimed that Ode to Billie Joe was written by some relative of hers and stolen by the evil Ms. Gentry. Got so tired of hearing about it that I began to keep my distance from her.

    300 chars

  28. Ricardo said on June 1, 2007 at 12:15 pm

    “Let’s go out and do some crimes. Like order sushi and don’t pay.”
    Only 70%

    77 chars

  29. MarkH said on June 1, 2007 at 12:33 pm

    Too late, mary. I broke down and looked it up.

    I was surprised, but I guess I should have remembered it, though, due to my past (brief) life in the country radio biz.

    170 chars

  30. LA mary said on June 1, 2007 at 12:53 pm

    It’s so perfectly seventies, isn’t it?

    38 chars

  31. MarkH said on June 1, 2007 at 1:09 pm


    7 chars

  32. Seamus said on June 1, 2007 at 1:14 pm

    14/20, no cheating, not a native.

    33 chars

  33. John said on June 1, 2007 at 1:28 pm

    Harper Valley PTA is another sing-songy narration. Nobody dies in it, but a lot of folks get it socked to!

    107 chars

  34. deb said on June 1, 2007 at 2:13 pm

    90 percent for me, but i contend it should’ve been 95…don’t NOTHIN’ ever come to no good up on choctaw ridge, period. sounds like gospel truth to me.

    at one point bobbie gentry was married to jim stafford — remember “spiders and snakes,” “wildwood weed” and “my girl bill”? i saw him in the early ’80s at the berrien county fair in michigan. sad.

    352 chars

  35. LA mary said on June 1, 2007 at 2:29 pm

    That’s the one, Deb. Jim Stafford.

    We are in complete agreement on the quality of things that happen up on Choctaw ridge.

    125 chars

  36. Kim said on June 1, 2007 at 2:33 pm

    Why don’t we just say Richard Battin invented the Internet? I remember well those dial-up days, when people would call it The World-Wide Web and the connecting part sounded like making a ship-to-shore call and that Netscape thingy would twirl.

    Hilarious about Jim Stafford. Bobbie must’ve run in some eclectic circles. Wonder if she was acquainted with Phil Spector, too? La Mary, care to weigh in? You seem wonderfully plugged in to the celebrity weirdness — without seeming weird yourself!

    495 chars

  37. MarkH said on June 1, 2007 at 3:14 pm

    Yep, Jim Stafford.

    Don’t forget “Cow Patty”, from the Clint Eastwood’s schlock movie period.

    This guy is positively BIG in Branson, Missouri, now. But hen what past-their-prime country artist isn’t?

    204 chars

  38. LA mary said on June 1, 2007 at 3:20 pm

    I have New Jersey weirdness, trust me. Some things can’t be shaken.

    Bobbie Gentry and Jim Stafford both did stints as hosts on “Those Amazing Animals,” so I guess having that in common was enough. They could compare notes about diapered chimps and singing dogs and that sort of thing.

    287 chars

  39. MarkH said on June 1, 2007 at 3:40 pm

    ummmm, mary, Priscilla Presley maybe? Don’t remember Bobbie hosting TAA; no record either. Could be….

    Can see the confusion, though, as Priscilla married a guy born just up the road from Bobbie’s Chickasaw County home.

    Weren’t those animals AMAZING, though?!

    267 chars

  40. LA mary said on June 1, 2007 at 4:03 pm

    They were amazing.
    The earthlink page about Bobbie is a little confusing, but I know Jim was on “Those Amazing Animals” in the early eighties. Bobbie probably not. They could still share amazing animal stories, though.

    220 chars

  41. Sherrie said on June 1, 2007 at 10:35 pm

    No cheating, 75%. Nance, you can sure find lots of ways for me to waste time on the computer! Thanks for all the links I would never find on my own.

    150 chars

  42. MaryC said on June 2, 2007 at 1:50 pm

    70%. I claim the one about Mama being clinically depressed was a trick question — at least, I couldn’t remember Bobbie whining “And now Mama seems clinically dep-reh-heh-hessed”. I remembered the bit about her not wantin’ to do much of anythin’ the moment I hit the Submit button.

    Did anyone else get the feeling that the narrator’s nearest and dearest knew perfectly well that this news would hit her hard and that she was keeping something a secret? There’s something malevolent about their little digs – “Weren’t you and Billie Joe seen together lately — why child, you’ve lost your appetite. Something wrong?”

    626 chars

  43. Danny said on June 3, 2007 at 12:18 am

    Ah, 30%. Geesh.

    Nancy, I’ve had an exhausting, whirlwind visit with friends and family in the last 36 hours here in Baltimore and fly back tomorrow. Two things you might be interested in. I am staying in Fells Point in a hotel that used to be a tobacco warehouse and I have a bay view room that looks directly upon the Domino’s Sugar building. One of my old friends asked me tonight if I had heard of Laura Lippman. Small world.

    434 chars

  44. michaelj said on June 3, 2007 at 11:07 am

    I guess I was in the 99th %tile, but, in my defense, I’m sure I heard the song 250,000 times on WXYZ and WKNR (Detroit) in the space of three months. Really liked the first several thousand. I noticed about five years ago I’d started to appreciate it again.

    I’ve always wondered whether the song had some basis in real events. Sure seems possible these people were the Choctaw Ridge branch of the Bundren family, and Lucinda Williams may have been acquainted with some kin over to Pineola.

    633 chars

  45. Hattie said on June 3, 2007 at 2:19 pm

    85%. Do you think she was lip-synching?

    39 chars

  46. michaelj said on June 3, 2007 at 9:14 pm

    Donn’t have a clue who reads back this far on a Nancy post. I just took time to watch that video. Now this woman could really sing. She’s obviously listened to somebody like Nina Simone. (Well, there is nobody like Nina Simone. Those chocalat and creme jazz singers, most of whom seem to be surnamed McCrae?)

    May sound stupid, but Cher had this sort of voice before she became a baritone, and if I were her lawyer, I’d be looking at a suit against somebody involved in her thoracic plastic surgery.

    I suppose my point is this. I’ve always succumbed to the idea that singer’s were either guys that stood out or women that sang good songs but but, with few exceptions, didn’t really stand out singing guy’s songs.

    I know, that’s benighted. I’ve got a podner that keeps telling me this for a fact. Obviously great and unmistakably great male voices in rock ‘n’ roll are unmistakeable, and I guess that’s the yardstick. Who’s unmistakable? For guys, the list seems inexhaustible, for women, not so much, but at champeenship levels, nah.
    It seems to me that the one person to be beyond this is Van. The guy singer, for me in yearrs, is David Hidalgo.

    Obviously, this has to do with the songs and the sides. How many women in the past 30 or forty years are so obviously recognizable as Greg Allman?

    Drugs dvision: In this corner (and these are
    little league matchups-everybody gets a trophy) , Mick vs. Marrianne. Well, the girl’s version of “It Is the Evenig of the Day” is way better. But Mick is Mick. But Marianne produces “Broken English”, so is it raw and emotional or cool. The nub: She claims she wrote Sister Morrphine, and Stones did a harrowing version with a truly haunting vocal. Verdict: I own both. When I feel inclined to listen to something I’d rather put behind me, I listen to both of those and then put headphones on for Moonlight Mile Moonlight Mile wins, but it might have been even better in broken English.

    USA,USA: Well, you have the Mell, you know ROCK. What a jackass. For the girls, I’m going with Joan Baez. As odious as her taking on a character of the male persuasion is, I guess she didn’t trash the song. And she clearly meant the best about perseverance, and this isn’t that other conversation about gendER.

    verdict: She always meant well. He’s always Cougar.

    So this could go on and on. But where it should stop is obvious. We have the song “Poor, poor Pitiful Me’.
    I’d say it’s a great song but if there was ever a gender-based song. ‘Put me through changes, lord. , like a waring blender. Women do that to men, not vice versa. I’d like it too be pointed out. Joan baez can sing “Nicola y Bart. The Night They Drove Ol’ Dixie Down is Levon Helm’s song and she had no business singing it. Ie’s abominable. and Poor, Poor Pitiful Me has to do with what women do to men. You could try writing your own songs., ladies Butt they aren’t likely to be that good.

    Then we have the mope ballad. Has She Got a Friend. We’ve got Richard Thompson, that wrote the song. If girls think this way,

    On the other hand, weve got Maria McKee, that used to be in an awesome that lived up to it’s name. Don’t know about anybody else, but I’d like to deal with the idea of lone justice with US Grade A certified torturers that never freaking served. How about waterbarding for the names of the Enron shills that Dickless won’t identify?

    Maria McKee has a great voice. Better than Anne Richmond Boston? I think not. Girl singers? No. Brownups that can really sing.

    So, so much for my opinions. Here’s what I’d like to know. What are intelligent peoples’ opinions about modern female pop stars? Way I see it, used to be you had to have a good voice. No lack-of-breath sopranobuys enhancement. Real singers didn’t need this crap. Top range: well that would be Judy Collins and Sandy Denny. Down hear with the rest of us: well Chrissie Maria Mkee, Aimee Mann, Xene, omen that didn’t need some sort of overdub for they’re nonexistent vocals. People still think Madonna can sing.

    I’d go back to a woman singing a woman’s song, Or, since it’s not suppsed to only Lysistrata and supposed to be collaborating, a John Pryne song and, who, Rita Coolidge? ‘Send me am angel; that flies from Montgomery’. Which woman understood that old woman’s state of mind as well as John Prine did?

    So anyway. I don’t know how many of you re Michigan types. I wouldn’t know what that means. Nancy’s a bery good writer, sort of sliding in. I grew in Detroit. Sort of.

    It wasn’t remotely like the way Nancy sees Detroit., and maybe she got here for the bad stuff, she might have a clue.

    I umderstand Nancy wants to see some cultural understanding of Detroit. She thinks Iggy meant dick to anybody. No, he didn’t. Know what Robyn Hytchcock says about this sort of gu”? He was an idiot. Her was a fool. Aslobbering fool with a speech defect.: and I saw his name——he’s called Ray. Iggy was a perceivedl ooney

    Politics was MC5. Alternative politics was SRC. Eweteman was SegerKind of like today. 2+2. . Bac in the datt, in Detroit, when W was bolting and Cheney was excersising more important comemtments, my dad was picking me up at my date’s Lake St. Clair lakefront. We went to the draft board. I had the most bizarre draftboard on the face of the earth, because it was Fr.. Coughlin’s. I was just supposed to go. Numbers didn’t work out, Kerry went. And og cout

    That’s not my Catholicism. I believe in liberation theology, but more, I’m a Theilhardist. That would be the anti-Raygun.We’re seriously on the side of retting ahold of weapons to defend ourselves. Jesuits of this persuasion tend to get shot/ killed andburied in shallow graves when Ws claim they’re running things. Seems safer than when its the Raygunites.

    More than anything. We are all part of God becoming This males sens in physics, actually becomind God.

    As this turns out, it all becomes quite clear why there are idiot savants that could quote you the lyrics of, I guess something as dense as Bob Dylan would would fit the bill.

    Billie Joe McAllister? I know the words to Bob Dylan’s Dream, and Desolation Row, and the Gates of Eden. It’s kind of an idiot savant thing, remembering lyrics.

    I can look at the Jumble Puzzle and I know the words, immediately. I mean, am I supposed to expect something to ignite? WEverybody sybsumes the idiot savantism. I’m a high acchiever in real life. I ett good grades, whaatever.

    I’m sure a large number of y’all have never tried hallucinogens. You probably should find some safe haven and give it a try.

    So,what I was saying about Men and Women and vocals. When you get right down to it. Men are more notable singer, mainly because they break conventions.s. When you get right down to it Merrie Clayton Gimme Shelter Way more frightening, and that’s the point of the song. It’s supposed to scare the shit out of you. Mick sounds kike this is more of this, Merrie Clayton sounds like Hair on Fire. Al Quaeda intent on inside the US. This had no effect on the Presiudent. O8/01.

    Yeah he’s almost terminally stupid and he needs hair on fire. But this wasn’t good enough. It was hair on fire. How’s anybody that brain-dead

    So what I started talking about? We’ve got btrathless popstrs now. They seem to need all sorts of electronic boosts. Nsdonna does. Jewell can just sing. More than that, did Nancy Wilson need overdubing? I don’t think so. Who are all these people?

    People used to have their owbb voices and they could sing. Joni, for sure.

    Does it take much of a man to see his whole life go down,
    To look up on the world from a hole in the ground,
    To wait for your future like a horse that’s gone lame,
    To lie in the gutter and die with no name?

    Only a hobo, but one more is gone
    Leavin’ nobody to sing his sad song
    Leavin’ nobody to carry him home
    Only a hobo, but one more is gone

    7947 chars

  47. brian stouder said on June 3, 2007 at 10:59 pm

    What are intelligent peoples’ opinions about modern female pop stars?

    I’m not claiming to be an “intelligent person” –

    but I agree about Jewell, and I would add Natalie Merchant (in all capital letters!), and Tracy Chapman. Honestly, I’ll add Lisa Lenox (aka DeeDee Doodlebop!) to this list; that woman can flat-out sing.

    And for my money – Eddie Vedder is it! Got a budy who always loved Neil Young – and who was always politely cool to my extremely high opinion of Vedder/Pearl Jam….until Young and Pearl Jam collaborated so nicely a few summers back.

    Music is such a personal thing; it either strikes your heart (in the pleasureable or the painful sense) or it doesn’t.

    696 chars

  48. czucky Dimes said on June 4, 2007 at 7:52 am

    Could you work the quiz on the song A Horse With No Name? First question: peyote or acid?

    91 chars

  49. brian stouder said on June 4, 2007 at 7:58 am

    I’d guess peyote (sounds more lyrical than acid)

    But I bet at this moment (9 am) Madame Telling Tales is putting the finishing touches on a Sopranos opus

    156 chars

  50. Dorothy said on June 4, 2007 at 8:07 am

    Oh Brian – I am thinking that, too! Wasn’t last night’s show amazing?! My heart was in my throat for the entire show – that is, until about 9:38 PM. Then my heart just sank. But it was not unexpected.

    204 chars

  51. brian stouder said on June 4, 2007 at 8:13 am

    Well – I was all wrong about the guy I thought would get arrested! LA Mary warned me – one can easily get lost in all the (potentially) foreshadowing shadows that are always dancing around; and I got blind-sided!

    212 chars

  52. LA mary said on June 4, 2007 at 9:55 am

    David Hidalgo can bring me to tears.

    36 chars

  53. Dave said on June 4, 2007 at 11:44 am

    Michaelj, you lose me sometimes but I brightened up at your mention of Lone Justice and Maria McKee. Another mostly obscure treasure.

    134 chars

  54. velvet goldmine said on June 5, 2007 at 2:55 pm

    I hope I didn’t miss it if someone already said this, but I recall that the song was turned into a movie starring Robbie Benson (Eeeeeeeeee!) Turn’s out Billie Joe’s big secret was that he was gay. I can’t remember what he and his beard were throwing of the ridge, but it was related to that secret. Durn….guess I’ll have to go google another piece of my wasted childhood.

    374 chars

  55. velvet goldmine said on June 5, 2007 at 3:00 pm

    Yep — according to Wikipedia — Billie Joe, he was on the down-loooooow…..

    “The film explores the budding relationship between McAllister (Benson) and Bobbie Lee Hartley (O’Connor), who corresponds to the unnamed narrator of the original song. Hartley and McAllister struggle to form a relationship despite resistance from Hartley’s family, who contend she is too young to date. They develop the relationship, despite the odds in their way. One night at a party, however, McAllister gets drunk. In his inebriated state, he makes love to another man dressed in drag, though later he reveals he knew what he was doing. He bids an enigmatical goodbye to Hartley. Overcome with guilt, McAllister subsequently kills himself by jumping off the bridge spanning the Tallahatchie River in Mississippi.

    Throughout the film Hartley voices her concerns that she will always remain a child, until she throws her ragdoll from the bridge, marking the point at which she begins moving towards adulthood. This also explains the other enigma of the song, where the object thrown from the bridge remains a mystery.”

    1107 chars