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The Ode To Billie Joe Songfacts reports that this song tells the story of a guy who kills himself by jumping off the Tallahatchie Bridge. There really was a Tallahatchie Bridge in Greenwood, Mississippi, but Gentry made up the story. The Tallahatchie Bridge collapsed in 1972.

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It was the third of June, another sleepy, dusty Delta day
I was out choppin' cotton and my brother was balin' hay
And at dinner time we stopped and…

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