Song written by Hank Williams (so it is attributed, but there are doubts), was recorded on June 13, 1952,
and was released on July 19, 1952, for the MGM label. The song reached number one on country charts on 6 September 1952 Jambalaya, would be included on the album, Honky Tokin ‘(MGM
With a melody based on the song “Gran Texas” by Cajun, since the original melody of the song is a basic element of the Cajun culture. “Grand Texas” is a song about a lost love, a woman who left the singer to go with another man to “Big Texas”; “Jambalaya”, although it maintains a Cajun theme, is about life, parties and the stereotypical food of Cajun cuisine. The narrator drops a pirogue through the shallow waters of the swamp to attend a party with his girlfriend Yvonne and his family. At the party they have Cajun cuisine, especially jambalaya, crab cake and gumbo filé, and drink liquor from fruit jars. Yvonne is her “ma cher amio”, which is Cajun French for “my good friend” or is more likely to mean “my girlfriend”. Technically in Cajun culture, “ma cher amio” means my dear, which refers to Yvonne. However, although Williams maintained a Louisiana theme, the song is not a true Cajun song, and that is precisely why the song gained such widespread popularity. “Jambalaya” is still one of Hank Williams’ most popular songs in the present. International, translated or derived versions exist in at least Chinese, Dutch, Finnish, French, Italian, Polish, German, Spanish and Estonian.
Some sources, among them AllMusic, affirm that the song was co-written by Williams and Moon Mullican, with
Williams accredited as the only author and Mullican receiving continuous royalties. Williams’ biographer, Colin Escott, speculates that Mullican is likely to have written at least part of the
song and that Hank’s music editor, Fred Rose, paid him secretly, so he would not have to split the publication with the King label. Records of Moon.
So what happened? Moon Mullican, the singer and pianist from East Texas and Grand Ole Opry’s “King of the Hillbilly Piano Players” (whose boogie style had a great influence on Jerry Lee Lewis) knew well “Big Texas” and played a role in the creation of “Jambalaya”. But the credible information from Falcon and others indicates that Moon and Hank co-wrote it while touring Louisiana together, with evocative and catchy letters from Cajun to create “Jambalaya.” Some accounts credit Mullican for writing the song and handing it to Hank, but it is not certain if Hank claimed the credit or if Moon sold Hank his share, common practice in those days.
Joe Stafford 1953 ( Columbia )
Little Brenda Lee 1956 ( Decca )
Jerry Lee Lewis 1958 ( Sun Records )
Jimmy C Newman 1959 ( MGM )
Teresa Brewer 1959 ( Coral )
Fats Domino 1961 ( Imperial Records )
Hank Williams Jr 1964 ( MGM )
Conway Twitty 1969 ( Decca )
Hoyt Axton 1971 ( Capitol )
The Carpenters 1973 ( A&M Records )
Emmylou Harris 1975 ( Reprise )
Doug Kershaw 1978 ( Warner )
Boxcar Willie 1983 ( Sulfolk Marketing )
Jo-El Sonnier 1988 ( Rounder )
…and more than 200 versions…..