Hank Williams - Jambalaya (On The Bayou)

First performance: 11/10/1998


Bruce covered the song 3 times:
2010-01-23 Stone Pony (The), Asbury Park, NJ
Played during a benefit for the Ranney School. Bruce is backed by Bobby Bandiera’s band and is joined by Patti Scialfa and Southside Johnny.
This was the second of the two 2000 Christmas holiday shows. Jambalaya (On the Bayou) was reported to be sound-checked together with Patti Scialfa acoustically, but it was not played on the show.

1998-10-11 Springsteen Residence, Colts Neck, NJ
Belated outdoor birthday bash for Bruce at his farm property, originally planned for September 23 but had been delayed due to poor weather. As they had the previous year, NYC-based Cajun-roots band The Gotham Playboys (who would form the core of the Sessions Band when they first assembled in the fall of 1998) provide the entertainment. Bruce joins them for several songs. Party guests include Steven Van Zandt, Max Weinberg, Jon Bon Jovi and Sheryl Crow.


"Jambalaya (On the Bayou)" is a song written and recorded by Hank Williams that was first released in July 1952. Named for a Creole and Cajun dish, jambalaya.  With a melody based on the Cajun song "Grand Texas", some sources, including AllMusic, claim that the song was co-written by Williams and Moon Mullican, with Williams credited as sole author and Mullican receiving ongoing royalties.  Since the original melody of the song was from "Grand Texas", the song is a staple of Cajun culture. However, although Williams kept a Louisiana theme, Williams' song resembles "Grand Texas" 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"; "Jambalaya", while maintaining a Cajun theme, is about life, parties and stereotypical food of Cajun cuisine. The narrator leaves to pole a pirogue 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 cher amio", which is Cajun French for "my good friend" or more likely to mean "my girlfriend." Technically in Cajun culture "ma cher amio" means my dear, which refers to Yvonne in this song.

Bruce on the artist

During the keynote speech at the 2012 South by Southwest music conference : 
"I remember sitting in my little apartment, playing "Hank Williams Greatest Hits" over and over. And I was trying to crack its code, because at first it just didn't sound good to me. It just sounded cranky and old–fashioned. But it was that hard country voice and I'm playing it, and it was an austere instrumentation. But slowly, slowly, my ears became accustomed to it, it's beautiful simplicity, and it's darkness and depth. And Hank Williams went from archival, to alive for me, before my very eyes."
Bruce also referes in some songs to lyrics from Williams 
I went down to the river to watch the fish swim by
But when I got to the river so lonesome I wanted to die, oh Lord
So that I jumped in the river, but the doggone river was dry
She's long gone, and now I'm lonesome blue


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 and a crawfish pie and filé gumbo
Cause tonight I'm gonna see my ma cher amio
Pick guitar fill fruit jar and be gay-o
Son of a gun we'll have big fun on the bayou

Thibodaux Fontaineaux 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
Settle down far from town get me a pirogue
And I'll catch all the fish in the bayou
Jambalaya and a crawfish pie...

Later on, swap my mon, get me a pirogue
And I'll catch all the fish on the bayou
Swap my mon, to buy Yvonne what she need-oh
Son of a gun we'll have big fun on the bayou
Jambalaya and a crawfish pie...