On Sept. 6, 1952, Hank Williams earned a number one hit with his track, “Jambalaya (On the Bayou)”. The song was one of the last to be released by Williams before his untimely death and is still noted as one of his most popular songs to date.
Williams recorded the track in Castle Studio in Nashville, with Chet Atkins on lead guitar, Jerry Rivers playing fiddle, and Don Helms on steel guitar. The song follows a Louisiana-centric Cajun theme and takes its melody from a classic Cajun song named “Grand Texas”. He describes his woman, Yvonne, as his “ma chaz ami-o,” which translates to “my good girlfriend” in Cajun French. Williams later wrote “I’m Yvonne (Of the Bayou)”, which gives a female perspective on the song’s theme. It was recorded by country singer Goldie Hill in 1953, but was not as well-received as the original.
Over the years, artists from various genres have put their own spin on the Williams’ classic. Elvis Presley, Emmylou Harris, Garth Brooks, Fats Domino, George Jones and the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band are just a few of the major artists who have covered “Jambalaya”. Current chart-topper Hunter Hayes made his first impact on the country music scene when he covered the track alongside Hank Williams Jr. when he was only four years old.
Although Williams tragically died at the age of 29 in 1953, the song stands as one of the many incredible tracks that will be enjoyed by listeners for decades to come. Click below to hear Hank Williams’ studio recording of his number one hit, “Jambalaya (On the Bayou)”.