Gentry signed with Capitol Records on June 23, 1967, and staff producer Kelly Gordon was given Ode to Billie Joe as his first full-length album production for the label. It was "Mississippi Delta" that initially got Gentry signed and was intended to be the A-side of her first single. In retrospect, the track is more obviously commercial than "Ode to Billie Joe" and reflects what was on the charts at the time. Gentry's original demo of "Mississippi Delta" was the version issued, but "Ode to Billie Joe" had a string arrangement by Jimmie Haskell dubbed onto the original recording at Capitol. It was the day after the string session that Capitol's A&R team decided that "Ode to Billie Joe" would be the A-side. The single was released on July 10, 1967. It would spend four weeks at number one on the Billboard Hot 100 and placed number three on the year-end chart. The single reached number eight on the Billboard Black Singles chart and number 13 on the UK Top 40. It sold more than three million copies worldwide. In 2001, Rolling Stone magazine listed "Ode to Billie Joe" among the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.