Linda Ronstadt. (Photo Credit: billboard.com)
…Saving nickles, saving dimes
Working ’til the sun don’t shine
Looking forward to happier times
On Blue Bayou…
The song was written to help Roy Orbison deal with the grief of losing his wife to a terrible accident. Blue Bayou is a vision in his mind. It does not exist…
Roy Orbison and Joe Melson both co-wrote Blue Bayou. In 1963, Orbison sang and recorded the song, which later became an international hit. It later became Linda Ronstadt‘s signature song, which became her hit cover in 1977. The song has since been recorded by many other artists over the years.
Orbison wrote a lot of songs with themes of loneliness and yearning, but in many cases, there was a lot more to them.
In an interview with the British paper NME, Orbison said,
“Take a song like ‘Blue Bayou’ for instance, that’s simply a song about being on the road. And that is really a happy song. It probably sounds very strange to you for me to say that. The fellow’s bound and determined to get back to where you sleep all day and the catfish play and the sailing boats and the girls and all that stuff. It’s a beautiful thought.”
“Now granted that it is a sad song, a lonely song, but it’s a loneliness that precedes happiness. And I’m not sitting here trying to tell you that I don’t sing lonely songs or anything like that.”
Linda Ronstadt’s Version
Linda Ronstadt took the song to number 3 on the Billboard Hot 100 in late 1977. It held for four weeks, as well as number 2 Country and number 3 Easy Listening. Moreover, it reached number 2 for four weeks on the Cash Box Top 100 chart.
Ronstadt’s version was RIAA certified Gold in January 1978. Most noteworthy, it was her first of her three Gold singles.
Ronstadt later performed the song on The Muppet Show‘s 523rd episode. It was first aired on October 26, 1980, in the UK and on May 16, 1981, in the US.
Because of this song, Dickson’s Baseball Dictionary records that a “Linda Ronstadt“ is a synonym for a fastball, a pitch that “blew by you”. The phrase was coined by Mets broadcaster Tim McCarver during a Mets telecast in the 1980s.
Other Notable Versions
Besides Orbison and Ronstadt, a few other artists have covered Blue Bayou in English. Among these notable versions are the following:
Alisan Porter, the winner of The Voice Season 10 (2016), sang the song during her blind audition prompting all four judges to turn their chairs. Eventually, Porter chose the female judge, Christina Aguilera.
Also, Karli Webster, a contestant of The Voice Season 13 (2017), performed the song in the knockouts against Janice Freeman. Although she lost the knockout, she came back as a comeback artist for Miley Cyrus in the live shows. However, Webster was again eliminated.
In addition, Rick Price and Jack Jones covered the song on their album California Dreaming in 2017.
Watch Linda Ronstadt’s cover of Blue Bayou.
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