Chinese Jambalaya 小癩痲

Winston Ho 何嶸.
Rutgers University, New Brunswick,
Departments of History and Asian Languages and Cultures
羅格斯大學東亞語言文化系歷史學系.
https://nolachinese.wordpress.com
NolaChinese on FacebookYoutube, and Instagram.

2015 Dec. 25, Christmas (revised 2019 Nov. 17).

 


20151225 - Chinese Jambalaya

[20th Century Masters: Best of Hank Williams, Universal Music, 1999.]

In 1952, the famous Country singer Hank Williams, Sr., wrote and recorded 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.  Moreover, the original song doesn’t sound anything like the traditional Cajun music of the time, and the song even features a pseudo-Cajun accent that no Cajun would ever say in real life. The original 1952 recording of “Jambalaya” is essentially a traditional English-language Country song with a Cajun theme.

Nevertheless, “Jambalaya” became an instant hit around the world, and it has since been re-recorded by many artists in many languages.  Even the Cajuns have adopted the song, and almost every Cajun and Zydeco musician has performed or recorded their own version of it, including several versions of the song translated into French.  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.

Jambalaya, Zatarans (Donn Young) (LSU)

[Young, Donn.  Jambalaya from the Zatarans Test Kitchen.  LSU.  https://louisianadigitallibrary.org/islandora/object/lsu-sc-dyp%3A117

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…


Sources.  

Williams, Hank.  “Jambalaya.” 1952.  Accessed from Youtubehttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xnKOVPXhlnE

Sonnier, Jo-el.  “Jambalaya.  Cajun Life, 1980.  Accessed from Youtubehttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JUgLafbQtc4 

張露 Chang Lu.  《小癩痲》 “Little Measles.”  1950s.  Accessed from Youtube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pNjbpNhPPag  [remember to turn on close captions (CC) and switch the settings to ENGLISH to read the translated lyrics].  


Jambalay Festival, Gonzales (1970s) (LA State Library) - 1[Cooking jambalaya at the Jambalaya Festival, Gonzales.  1970s.  Louisiana State Library.  https://louisianadigitallibrary.org/islandora/object/state-lhp%3A7138]  

Jambalaya (On the Bayou).  Lyrics by Hank Williams, 1952 (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xnKOVPXhlnE).  

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

Thibodaux to 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 

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

 

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s