I was listening to a Pravda Records cover of a song from the late ’60s called “Ode to Billie Joe” (originally a Bobbi Gentry tune). It made me think about the original, the words, and musings about how hard it is to play on the guitar.
I recall there was also a mysticism regarding the words and what the story was really trying to say. Most obviously, it is a story about suicide and how callous people can be when speaking about the death of those not close to them. And sure, the pragmatic farmer’s mentality really comes out in the song. Rumor has it that the Tallahatchie Bridge (the one in real life) collapsed in 1972.
Wes Clark discusses this topic to its ultimate futility.