Friday, July 18, 2014

Hank Williams Special


Goodbye Joe, me gotta go, me oh, my oh
Me gotta go pole the pirogue down the bayou
My Yvonne, the sweetest one, me oh, my oh
Son of a gun, we'll have big fun on the bayou

Jambalaya, a-crawfish pie the file' gumbo
'Cause tonight I'm gonna see my ma chere amie-o
Pick guitar, fill fruit jar and be gay-oh
Son of a gun, we'll have big fun on the bayou

Thibodaux to Fontainebleau, the place is buzzin'
Kinfolk come to see Yvonne by the dozen
Dress in style, and go hog wild, me oh, my oh
Son of a gun, we'll have big fun on the bayou

Jambalaya, a-crawfish pie the file' gumbo
'Cause tonight I'm gonna see my ma chere amie-o
Pick guitar, fill fruit jar and be gay-oh
Son of a gun, we'll have big fun on the bayou

Jambalaya, a-crawfish pie the file' gumbo
'Cause tonight I'm gonna see my ma chere amie-o
Pick guitar, fill fruit jar and be gay-oh
Son of a gun, we'll have big fun on the bayou

"Jambalaya (On the Bayou)" is a song written and recorded by American country music singer Hank Williams that was first released in July 1952. Named for a Creole and Cajun dish, jambalaya, it spawned numerous cover versions and has since achieved popularity in a number of music genres.  Yesterday, my friend and I went to have lunch at a restaurant in Thibodaux called The Half Shell.  I've had lunch there many times and my favorite thing to order is the "Hank Williams Special," which of course is a dish of jambalaya, crawfish pie, and file gumbo.  It is always absolutely delicious. I love the little fried crawfish pies which have a creamy crawfish sauce on top.

Williams' song resembles "Grand Texas", a Cajun French song, in melody only. "Grand Texas" is a song about a lost love, a woman who left the singer to go with another man to "Big Texas".  However, "Jambalaya", while maintaining a Cajun theme, is about life, parties and stereotypical food of Cajun cuisine. The protagonist leaves to pole a pirogue – a flat-bottomed boat – down the shallow water of the bayou, to attend a party with his girlfriend Yvonne, and her family. At the feast they have Cajun cuisine, notably Jambalaya, crawfish pie and filé gumbo and drink liquor from fruit jars. Yvonne is his "ma chaz ami-o", which is Cajun French for "my good girlfriend" (“ma chère amie” in French). Williams uses the term "ma chaz ami" as one word, thus the "my" in front of it. The "o" at the end of "ami" is a poetic/lyrical device making the line match the phrasing of the previous line and rhyme with it.

Williams composed a sequel to the song from the female perspective, "I'm Yvonne (Of the Bayou)", with Jimmy Rule. It was not as popular. As with "Jambalaya" there is speculation that Williams may have purchased this song from Mullican.

Later researched by a member of Moon Mullican's family, a story emerged about how the song came about in the first place, and it was said that while visiting a small bar located just south of the Choupique Bayou and owned by Yvonne Little, the song "Jambalaya" referred to some truly wonderful times had there.

Thibodaux, where I am this week, is mentioned in Hank Williams's "Jambalaya (On The Bayou)". It is not the only song that mentions the town of Thibodaux.  In 1972 Leon Russell had the song "Cajun Love Song" in which Thibodaux is mentioned. Also, in the 1970s Jerry Reed song "Amos Moses," in the 1990s George Strait song "Adalida," in Dan Baird's 1992 song "Dixie Beauxderaunt," the 1999 Jimmy Buffett song "I will Play for Gumbo," the 2008 Toby Keith song "Creole Woman," and its name is the title of a song by jazz songstress Marcia Ball.

8 comments:

EthanJM said...

It's interesting for you to be vacationing in a town with so much music history. What is it about Thibodaux that makes it worth mentioning in so many songs?

silvereagle said...

That is some mighty good eating...not "high class" like the French Quarter as far as the price goes, but definitely "high class" as far as the flavors are concerned!!!

Joe said...

Though Thibosaux is rich in it's music tradition and the zydeco music especially, I think it's the melodic name that causes it to be in so many songs. For those who don't know, it's pronounced "TIB-ə-doh." There are also numerous music festivals in town throughout the year.

Joe said...

Yesterday's food was classic cajun, but the food at Fremin's was classic creole cooking and that restaurant can rival any in the French Quarter. In itself, Fremin's is worth the trip to Thibodaux.

Jay M. said...

Sounds like a place I'd like to visit! And I knew how to pronounce the name, having a friend who's last name is Thibodaux.

Peace <3
Jay

Anonymous said...

It's actually "the Thibodeauxs, the Fontenot's" which are common surnames in the area. I'm from Ville Platte, Evangeline Parish. Love the blog by the way!!!

Joe said...

You're right, I did read somewhere in which it discusses the surnames instead of the places, and I think you're right about that. I'm not for sure Hank Williams wild have understood that which is further evidence that Mullican actually wrote the song. No matter what, the Hank Williams Special at The Half Shell is delicious.

Joe said...

Probably most people know how to pronounce it, but I thought I'd add it just in case. Cajun pronunciation is vastly different from classical French.