Interviewing reclusive singer-songwriter Bobbie Gentry is out of the question. Shoot, that creepy Roy Orbison hologram is more likely to start fielding questions. Before news of upcoming box set The Girl From Chickasaw County made the rounds online, wishing for unheard Gentry songs and alternate versions of old favorites seemed about as ridiculous.
Yet come Sept. 21, we’ll get an eight-CD set compiling Gentry’s six studio albums, the Glen Campbell collab that’s equal parts amazing and the rue of every dollar bin, and a whole disc of BBC sessions. The seven discs featuring albums also include loads of archival material. Rarities and unheard goodies include Gentry singing The Beatles’ “The Fool on the Hill” in Japanese (!!!), an acoustic take of album deep cut “Belinda,” a live cover of Jerry Jeff Walker’s “Mr. Bojangles,” and a different version of “Ode to Billy Joe” that’ll either clear up or further muddy one of pop music’s great mysteries. There’s also a few unheard songs and material from an abandoned jazz album.
Hopefully, the accompanying 84-page book sheds some light on the origins of these and 71 other surprise gems from a genre-defiant product of the Mississippi Delta. It’s enough to tell a fuller story than most anyone would get out of a 15-minute phoner with a retired singer, anyways.