My parents used to have a cassette called 'Best Friends'. It came out in the early 80s - it was one of those which had the "not available in record shops" stamp of quality. They couldn't even spell Bobbie Gentry's name correctly on the sleeve:
Credit where it's due, it was a decent enough country compilation. And it did introduce me to Bobbie Gentry, specifically Ode to Billy Joe. If we went out in the car, the cassette normally came with us. It told a story which drew you in and I learned the lyrics, the narrative, off by heart. Sitting in the back seat of the car, having listened to the song time and time again, I still couldn't work out what had happened up on Tallahatchie Bridge. What was thrown off the bridge? Why did Billy Joe MacAllister jump? For years I was convinced the narrator pushed him. Now? A tale of forbidden love. I think.

A couple of months ago I was listening to Bobbie Gentry on my way to work. I was absorbed in her sound - that voice, the tunes...Jesus, just the music. That occasional dread of the working day ahead disappeared. She practically reeled me in through those cold, grey doors of my workplace and it wasn't until I removed my headphones that the hard slap of reality struck and I realised where I was. Not many artists can do that. I declared that day to be Bobbie Gentry Day on Twitter. My Twitter feed went wild. Well, wild for mine. Two folk responded. But they got right behind the idea. Thanks to @kirstininnes and @Siege_Perilous we shared favourite tracks and the occasional link. A couple of hours in and @kirstininnes rightly pointed out we were celebrating the wrong date. Bobbie Gentry day had to be postponed. Of course. It made sense. It really should be the third of June. So here we are folks - today is Bobbie Gentry Day. She removed herself from the spotlight towards the end of the 70s. Usually if a music artist disappears from public view and later dies, there's a flurry of tributes and classic tracks are replayed, which is fine, but why wait until they are no longer with us? We really ought to celebrate the living more often. So here we are. Give it up for Bobbie Gentry.

The Girl From Cincinnati: Mournful, uplifting, fighting to make it, playing the game because she knew there was no other way. If you ever wanted a song to teach you that you never give up for your dream, this is it. Brutally honest.

Fancy: Genius. Another song with a driving narrative and a tune to match. The production values are immense. A damning indictment of what it takes to overcome poverty and be a woman in a patriarchal society

Touch 'Em With Love: Dance your ass off in two minutes. And check that restrained guitar solo.

Apartment 21: What. A. Voice.

You've Made Me So Very Happy:  The very essence of what Bobbie Gentry Day is about. Tell your loved one/s what they mean to you. Celebrate it. Shout it. Sing it.

I Wouldn't Be Surprised: The other side of love. S/he left you for another. You still love them.

Stormy: Could a track be any more intimate?

This is just a sample. The rest is up to you. Go and dig out some classic Bobbie Gentry and spread the word. It is the third of June after all.


This originally appeared on Posterous.

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