Music

'The Cajun Queen': The Story Behind Jimmy Dean's Eerie Tall Tale

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In Jimmy Dean's classic country song "Big Bad John," the titular character's nasty reputation as a cruel dude stems in part from him murdering a guy in New Orleans during a fight over an unnamed Cajun queen. John proves to be a hero by song's end, sacrificing himself to save his fellow miners.

Just like Feleena in Marty Robbins' "El Paso" got her own sequel song (titled "Feleena (From El Paso)"), John's love interest takes center stage in the bizarre, Halloween playlist-worthy song "The Cajun Queen."

The musical tall tale's namesake finds John buried from a mining disaster and brings him back to life. Zombie John and his queen then return to New Orleans and go on to have 110 grandchildren.

A truly strange song is even wilder when you consider that its intro gets used in Jimmy Dean sausage commercials. Unlike the better-known "Big Bad John,"  it subconsciously informs decisions in the frozen foods section.

It wasn't the first telling of Queenie's story. Dottie West recorded answer song "My Big John" in 1961, telling a way less fantastical tale about John's significant other coming to town.

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"Big Bad John" topped the country, easy listening and pop charts in 1961. A year later, "The Cajun Queen" reached a respectable No. 16 on the country charts and crossed over to pop's Top 25.

A separate song from 1962 focuses on one of John's children, "Little Bitty Big John."

"The Cajun Queen" Lyrics

She kinda breezed into town from New Orleans
And said, "Boys, I'm Big John's Cajun Queen
Now, I didn't come here to argue or waste anybody's time
I just come to get my man from your dirty old mine
'Cause he moves me

Now where you give up's where old Queenie's gonna start
'Cause I got a powerful love in my heart
So just show me the hole way down in the ground
And tell the whole wide world Big John's been found
And he's livin'

So down in the mine without a sign of a light
Old Queenie went a-lookin' for John that night
She found him there at the bottom of the pit
And placed a red-hot kiss on his cold blue lips
He started breathin' (aah)

She waited a minute and then she kissed him again
And old John got the power of a hundred men
Up he come a-clawin' and a-diggin' like a mole
And said, "come on Queenie, we're gonna leave this hole"
They started walkin'

Now a roar from the crowd greeted this fine pair
As they both walked out in that cool night air
And up for silence went Big John's hand
And the Queen said, "I told you I'd get my man
'Cause he moves me"

You can find them today, they're down in New Orleans
Big Bad John and his Cajun Queen
They're a little bit wrinkled from the strain of time
But their love's just as strong as that night in the mine
A hundred-and-ten grandchildren

Now the moral of this story has a real clear omen
Don't you ever underestimate the power of a woman

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'The Cajun Queen': The Story Behind Jimmy Dean's Eerie Tall Tale