Country singer honored on town’s water tower

Mayor: This may be a good time to repaint the tower with the town’s new logo
Fans paint Joe Diffie lyrics on Blythewood water tower. | Barbara Ball

BLYTHEWOOD – In an apparent tribute to country singer/songwriter Joe Diffie, who died March 29 at age 61 from complications of COVID-19, some of his devoted Blythewood fans emblazoned the town’s water tower over the weekend with the words, ‘Billy Bob loves Charlene/RIP Joe Diffie.’ The line is from Diffie’s song John Deere Green, released in the 1990’s.

The song tells the story of a boy named Billy Bob who fell in love with a girl named Charlene. They met in high school in the 1960’s, and, to proclaim their love, Billy Bob hauled a can of John Deere green paint to the top of the town’s water tower and, teetering on the rail, painted the words, “Billy Bob loves Charlene,” as well as a big heart, on the tower – all in John Deere green.

The second verse describes the two of them raising a family on an 80-acre farm. The song goes on to say that the proclamation on the water tower was visible from the couple’s front yard and continued to remain intact over the years despite efforts by the town to paint over it.

Following Diffie’s death, the song has surged in popularity. Originally released on Diffie’s album ‘Honky Tonk Attitude’ in 1993, it peaked at number 5 on the country charts in 1994.  Last week it entered at No. 2 on country charts with 7,000 sold in the week ending April 2, according to Nielson Music/MR.

When The Voice asked Blythewood town officials if they plan to paint over Billy Bob’s proclamation of love, Town Administrator Brian Cook, who had not yet seen the green proclamation, said it’s Winnsboro’s water tower and that Winnsboro would be the one to answer that question.

“We are actually in line for them to paint it, but there are a few ahead of us,” Cook said. “But now they might be moving us up the line,” he said with a laugh.

The tower was installed in 2000 when Winnsboro agreed to provide Blythewood with water. Since that time, the paint has faded and the town sports a new tree design on its logo.

Both Cook and Blythewood Mayor Bryan Franklin agreed that the new logo would look nice on the tower.

“It’s time for a fresh paint job and a new look on our very visible tower that overlooks the town and greets our interstate visitors,” Franklin said.

Asked if he thinks Winnsboro’s painter will be able to cover the bright green words and heart that the town government in Billy Bob’s fictional town was never able to completely paint over, Cook smiled.

“I guess we’ll find out,” he said.