Bobbie Gentry recently got some shine in our The Number Ones column when her “Ode To Billie Joe” hit the top of the charts in 1967. The country musician is a fascinating figure on the country music fringes — she has an episode of the podcast Cocaine & Rhinestones about her — and she’s accumulated a devoted cult following despite being out of the spotlight for almost forty years. And a couple months ago, her career got the comprehensive box set treatment, with the eight-disc collection The Girl From Chickasaw County.
Mercury Rev also count themselves as fans, and they’ve put together a full-length tribute album, covering every track from Gentry’s 1968 album The Delta Sweete, plus “Ode To Billie Joe,” of course. They rounded up a ton of singers to feature on it: Norah Jones, Hope Sandoval, Beth Orton, Rachel Goswell, Vashti Bunyan, Marissa Nadler, Susanne Sundfør, Phoebe Bridgers, Kaela Sinclair, Carice Van Houten, Laetitia Sadier and Lucinda Williams.
Today, they’re sharing their version of “Sermon,” which features Margo Price. Here’s what Price had to say about Gentry:
Bobbie Gentry is one of the greatest writers and performers of our time. She was the definition of country funk and southern soul. Her songs were well crafted, literary masterpieces. Bobbie produced so much of her own work that she didn’t get credit for. Her influence on my music has been massive and her influence on the music world in general is earth shattering. Bobbie is iconic, original, eloquent and timeless. She is an elusive wonder in a world of plain spoken, worn out cliques. She has remained a strong voice and an eternal spirit of the delta, wrapped in mystery, yet forever here.
Listen to it below.
01 “Okolona River Bottom Band” (Feat. Norah Jones)
02 “Big Boss Man” (Feat. Hope Sandoval)
03 “Reunion” (Feat. Rachel Goswell)
04 “Parchman Farm” (Feat. Carice van Houten)
05 “Mornin’ Glory” (Feat. Laetitia Sadier)
06 “Sermon” (Feat. Margo Price)
07 “Tobacco Road” (Feat. Susanne Sundfør)
08 “Penduli Pendulum” (Feat. Vashti Bunyan w/ Kaela Sinclair)
09 “Jessye’ Lisabeth” (Feat. Phoebe Bridgers)
10 “Refractions” (Feat. Marissa Nadler)
11 “Courtyard” (Feat. Beth Orton)
12 “Ode To Billie Joe” (Feat. Lucinda Williams)
Bobbie Gentry’s Delta Sweete Revisited is out 2/8 via Partisan/Bella Union. Pre-order it here.