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Learn about Doug Kershaw’s Life Story in his Single “Louisiana Man”

Doug Kershaw + Louisiana Man
by
  • Riley is a Senior Country Music Journalist for Country Thang Daily, known for her engaging storytelling and insightful coverage of the genre.
  • Before joining Country Thang Daily, Riley developed her expertise at Billboard and People magazine, focusing on feature stories and music reviews.
  • Riley has a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism from Belmont University, with a minor in Cultural Studies.

Louisiana fiddle superstar Doug Kershaw prides himself on his humble beginnings and heritage in the song “Louisiana Man.” Doug wrote himself an autobiographical song while he was fulfilling his military duties with his younger brother Rusty for three years. When they returned from the service, the two brothers released the single as a duo on January 1, 1961, and since then, it has become the American standard for roots music. It flew off the charts that year, peaking at No. 10 on the Billboard Hot Country Charts and No. 4 on the US Hot 100 Bubbling Under Chart.

“Louisiana Man” became Doug and Rusty’s biggest hit, so they followed it out with another chart-topping single, “Diggy Liggy Lo,” the same year. They were a phenomenal pair in the mid-50s to early 60s, climbing the charts five times, including songs such as “So Lovely Baby” (1955), “Love Me to Pieces” (1957), and “Hey Sheriff” (1958). By 1964, the duo decided to part ways. 

Meaning of the Song

Behind Doug Kershaw’s massive success in the 60s is a rough upbringing in Southern Louisiana. Accompanied by a dynamic fiddle chord progression, his single “Louisiana Man” tells the story of his early life with his parents and siblings on the riverbank. Living in a houseboat as a kid, his parents would often host their family’s parties and play Cajun music in their home. This piqued Doug’s interest in music, and eventually took his chance in the country scene. 

RELATED: 5 Interesting Facts You Should Know About Doug Kershaw

In the song, the main subject is “Ned,” whose houseboat is anchored to a big tall tree where his mother cooks early breakfast for his father, who is a fisherman. Ned couldn’t wait for the next day to visit the town and watch cowboy shows, but his father would say, “Son, we’ve got lines to run; We’ll come back again, but first, there’s work to be done.” This shows that his family prioritizes putting food on the table rather than dilly-dallying because they can’t afford to. The last line, “Papa has to work hard to make a living since he’s a Louisiana man” highlights the hard work and determination in order to suffice their daily needs. 

“Louisiana Man” is a message about a hard life yet a rewarding one. Its lyrics have a deep connection to Doug’s roots, describing the swamps and rivers he grew up in. Thanks to Doug, we get the privilege to see what his life used to look like. Now, anyone who sees his flamboyant performances live is lucky enough to witness the most influential fiddle player grace them with style. 

Get to know the talented Cajun musician Doug Kershaw through his enigmatic performance of “Louisiana Man.” 

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