The Day Billie Joe McAlister quit the Harper Valley PTA

Posted On: Wednesday - October 3rd 2018 8:29PM MST
In Topics: 
  Music  Humor  Educational Stupidity

I attended a PTO meeting for the first time in my life a coupla weeks back. Nope, it's not the PLO (I don't know what they're up to anymore) but what used to be called the PTA. I guess it was just time for a change, like the WWF becoming the WWE; I mean, logo-makers gotta eat too, I suppose.

I just came to agitate for more recess. The nice principal lady kinda put the kibosh on the idea, saying that after 25 minutes, the kids just can't get along anymore or some such thing. Hey, lady, this ain't over yet. Anyway, it all reminded me of an old country song, called The Harper Valley PTA. In that song, back in the times of a little more decorum all around, a single Mom is called out by the PTA for "wearing her dresses too high". (She ain't seen the likes of the modern MILFs - dresses aren't a factor, the short-shorts deserve a country song of their own! Don't let your kids ride the bus, people!)

I won't spoil the climactic ending of Harper Valley PTA for you. I will say, though, that the tune of the song is very near that of a slightly older country song called Ode to Billie Joe. Listen for yourself to the 1969 Tom T. Hall (a famous country singer) - written Harper Valley PTA sung by Jeannie C. Riley. Note the similarity in the melody to the Bobby Gentry written-and-sung Ode to Billie Joe from a year earlier. The earlier song just has a slower tempo for a sadder song.

To save on Peak Stupidity server space, what say we just combine the lyrics as best as we can. You can sing them to the tune of either song ... doesn't matter, they're the same.

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 walked back to the house to eat.
And Mama hollered out the back door "y'all remember to wipe your feet."

And she said, "I got a note here from the Harper Valley PTA".
Well, the note says, "Mrs. Johnson, you're wearing your dresses way too high.",
and Papa said to Mama as he passed around the blackeyed peas,
"I'll have another piece-a apple pie, you know it don't seem right."

Well, there's Bobby Taylor sittin' there, and seven times he asked me for a date,
and Brother said he recollected when he and Tom and Billie Joe
put a frog down my back at the Carroll County picture show.
Well, Mr. Harper couldn't be here 'cause he stayed too long at Kelly's Bar again.

That nice young preacher, Brother Taylor, dropped by today.
And boy was sure surprised when Mrs. Johnson wore her miniskirt into the room.
Said he'd be pleased to have dinner on Sunday, by the way.
And Mama said to me "Child, what's happened to your appetite?"

And then you have the nerve to tell me you think that as a mother I'm not fit.
Well, this is just a little Payton Place, and you're all Harper Valley hypocrites.
Seems like nothin' ever comes to no good up on Choctaw Ridge,
and now Billy Joe Macallister's jumped off the Tallahatchie Bridge.

No, I wouldn't put you on because it really did it happened just this way,
the day my Mama socked it to, the Harper Valley PTA,
and me, I spend a lot of time pickin' flowers up on Choctaw Ridge
and drop them in the muddy water off the Tallahatchie Bridge.
Hey, it ain't Stairway to Freebird, but it was a fun effort!

AHAAAAA!, Wikipedia notes:
"The country singer Margie Singleton asked Tom T. Hall to write her a song similar to Bobby Gentry's Grammy-winning hit "Ode to Billie Joe", which she had covered the previous year, and which Gentry wrote and recorded in 1967. The melody is essentially the same as that of the Gentry song, but Gentry seemingly was never informed or given any credit by Hall.
There were movies made outta both of these songs, which is kind of coincidental, I'd say. I saw the movie based on Ode to Billie Joe (cannot remember the name, maybe the same, and will say that I really don't like the theme they used to explain why the young McAlister jumped off that bridge. I won't spoil it though.

Harper Valley PTA was a TV show on for a few seasons, along with the production of a movie from it. I don't guess Hollywood was very original, even back in those days.

[UPDATED. 10/05 morning:]
Added information on the movies made from these 2 similar-melody songs, as I was somehow reminded by the 2nd commenter.

Friday - October 5th 2018 9:05AM MST
PS: That was not what I expected! I had not heard of Henry Kaiser and his band till now, so thanks, Richard. Pretty good, and great singing by that Cary Sheldon. I didn't like the fade ending too much (I dont' think fiddles should have been in it) until that last feedback part.
Friday - October 5th 2018 8:52AM MST
PS: I will give it a listen in a minute, Richard. Thanks.
Friday - October 5th 2018 8:14AM MST
PS IMHO, Henry Kaiser absolutely killed it with his version of 'Ode':
Thursday - October 4th 2018 11:16AM MST
PS:Vdare's got a good review of Carlson's new book,
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