Forty-seven years ago this summer tens of millions asked the question, still unanswered. No, not, "Why are we in Vietnam?" Or: "If you're going to San Francisco, why wear flowers in your hair?" No, it was, "What did Billie Joe McAllister and his girlfriend throw off the Tallahatchie Bridge?" If you were young enough you really had no idea. A little older and you might guess, "a fetus" or even "a baby." A Hollywood movie based on the song suggested Billie Joe was gay. And so on.
The song, of course, was "Ode to Billie Joe," written and sung by Bobbie Gentry, who sadly did not have a very long hot career after that. Here's a story from last year that probes the meaning of it all. And the song below. Dylan did a kind of takeoff, still unreleased from the Basement Tapes. Of course, more interesting: Why did Bobbie suddenly quit the biz and what happened to her?