(Roughly) Daily

Bull Shift…

In 1945, Pablo Picasso created a suite of 11 lithographs through which he illustrates the evolution of artistic vision from the representational to the abstract…  That’s to say, from:

Plate One


Plate 11

See process unfold at Artyfactory.com.

As we sharpen our pencils, we might migrate from the abstract to Southern Gothic, as we strum a birthday ditty for Roberta Streeter, better known by her stage name “Bobby Gentry,” who was born in Chickasaw County, Mississippi on this date in 1944.  Raised in deep poverty in the rural South, Streeter made her way to L.A., where she studied philosophy at UCLA, then composition at the L.A. Conservatory.  After a stint performing in reviews in Las Vegas, she wrote and recorded her first album and released her first single, both titled “Ode to Billie Joe.”

The single (which was the B side of her release) topped the Billboard Hot 100 for four weeks in August 1967 and placed #4 in the year-end chart, and sold over three million copies; Rolling Stone has enshrined it as one of the “500 Greatest Songs of All Time.”  The LP also topped the U.S. album charts (replacing Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band); and in an early example of crossing over, both the single and the album made the top ten in both the Black singles and Black albums charts.

In 1976, Max Baer, Jr. (who had played Jethro in The Beverly Hillbillies, and for whose Macon County Line Gentry had written a song) directed a feature film based on “Ode to Billie Joe” (called Ode to Billy Joe, and starring Robby Benson and Glynnis O’Connor). In the movie, the mystery of the title character’s suicide is revealed as a product of the conflict generated by his emerging homosexuality.  Mystery solved.

Bobby Gentry

Written by (Roughly) Daily

July 27, 2008 at 1:01 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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