Winston Ho 何嶸.
Rutgers University, New Brunswick,
Departments of History and Asian Languages and Cultures
2015 Dec. 25.
[20th Century Masters: Best of Hank Williams, Universal Music, 1999.]
In 1952, the famous Country singer Hank Williams, Sr., wrote the psuedo-Cajun song “Jambalaya” (“Good-bye Joe, me gotta go, me oh my oh / Me gotta go pole the pirogue down the bayou / Jambalaya, crawfish pie, filè gumbo / ‘Cause tonight I’m gonna see my ma chère amie-o…”) This tribute to Cajun culture and food 卡津文化 is now considered a classic in Country music 鄉村音樂. However, Hank Williams was being very progressive when he wrote that song in the 1950s, when most Americans who knew who the Cajuns 卡津人 were considered them a bunch of illiterate French-speaking country-bumpkins. Nevertheless, “Jambalaya” became an instant hit around the world, and it has since been re-recorded by many artists in many languages, even in French by the Cajuns. Unfortunately, most people around the world still don’t know who the Cajuns are, and have no idea what this song is about, so artists around the world have written new lyrics completely unrelated to the original song.
I grew up in New Orleans, and my parents had always told me that they had heard the “Jambalaya” song when they were children growing up in Taiwan, but they remembered the song having different lyrics. Well, thanks to the power of the Internet, we can all listen to the Chinese version of “Jambalaya,” which was originally sung in Mandarin by a Hong Kong singer named Chang Lu 張露 in the 1950s. The song is about a young woman being approached by a boy whose face is covered in pimples, so she calls him “little measles” 《小癩痲》 (or 《小癩麻》). The preceding Youtube link has subtitles, so make sure you turn on closed captions (CC) and switch the settings to either CHINESE or ENGLISH…
Williams, Hank. “Jambalaya.” 1952. Accessed from Youtube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xnKOVPXhlnE
Sonnier, Jo-el. “Jambalaya.” Cajun Life, 1980. Accessed from Youtube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PsM2A0jdU14
張露 Chang Lu. 《小癩痲》 “Little Measles.” 1950s. Accessed from Youtube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pNjbpNhPPag