Friday, September 16, 2011

What is Jambalaya?

I'm going to bring this blog post forward to 2011 from 2010, because Wendell referred me to a wealth of information on Jambalaya including its history and many recipes for many versions. See what I mean at:
Jambalaya shows both sides of Creole and Cajun influences

First on the scene, was Jambalaya, a well-known Louisiana Creole and Cajun dish of Spanish and French influence, according to Wikipedia. Seems like the first time I ate the dish Jambalaya, David Mize had made it and brought to a party. Wonder where David is now?

There’s quite a detailed article on Wikipedia about the song also at: Jambalaya (On the Bayou)

Since the article on the song was such an eye-opener for me, I am sharing some of that information I didn't know before researching it. It is apparent that Jambalaya (On the Bayou) took on a life of its own and was recorded by many artists all over the world.

Quoting from the Wikipedia article:
  • Hank Williams, Sr., recorded it as a Country version and another, even more popular at the time, version of the song was the 1952 cover version recorded by Jo Stafford, reaching #3 on the Billboard pop charts (and making the song well known to people other than country music fans). Mitch Miller had originally intended Jambalaya to be recorded by Jimmy Boyd for Columbia Records. Boyd turned the song down and Miller recorded it with Jo Stafford. Years later Jimmy Boyd did record it for Dot records. It was further popularized in a Rock'n'Roll version by Fats Domino.
  • There’s a Cajun French version that has been recorded by Cajun bands including Aldus Roger and Jo-El Sonnier.
  • The Carpenters featured the song, in an uptempo MOR version with country flourishes, on their 1973 album Now & Then. Their version was released as a single outside the United States in 1974 and sold well in the U.K. and Japan.
  • Other artists who have performed the song include Jerry Lee Lewis, Leon Russell, Charley Pride, Jimmy Buffett, Jeff Healey on his 2008 album Mess of Blues, Emmylou Harris included it in her 1976 album Elite Hotel, Moon Mullican, John Fogerty (under the name of The Blue Ridge Rangers), Gerry & The Pacemakers, Brenda Lee, Harry Connick, Jr., Lucinda Williams, Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Billy "Crash" Craddock, George Jones, The Residents, Leo Kottke, Wes Paul, Dolly Parton, Andy Kaufman, Professor Longhair, Freddy Fender, The White Stripes, Tab Benoit, and Tommy Funderburk (appearing in the film Steel Magnolias), Van Morrison and Linda Gail Lewis on their 2000 album You Win Again among many others.
  • In India, Usha Iyer (now Usha Uthup) recorded a version in 1968 on the HMV label, that became the best selling song until then, by an Indian artist in English.
  • International, translated or derived versions do exist at least in Chinese, Dutch, French, Italian, Polish, German and Estonian.
  • In 2005, two versions of Jambalaya surged in Mexican folk music, one by Banda Limón and the other from the Duranguense group K-Paz de la Sierra. However, in Mexican music, the most famous cover version is by Los Felinos.

Here’s a combo recording video from YouTube of both the Jo Stafford recording and the Hank Williams, Sr. version:
Looking back to my teenage years at Cleburne High School, one of my first memories of Jambalaya was one of my classmates singing it while in the shower after a Physical Education class. I wonder if anyone else recalls that.

During my high school years, I thought Country Music was just hillbilly music, but I've come around on that thinking.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks go to John Wiseman for sharing another video of this song through Facebook. It is an instrumental that features the harmonica.