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Blue Bayou


Linda Ronstadt

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"Blue Bayou" was originally recorded by Roy Orbison on his legendary 1963 album In Dreams. While it only scored as high as #29 in the US (despite scoring #1 in Ireland and #10 in Norway), Linda Ronstadt took it to far greater fame as her only gold-selling single and her signature song. Linda Ronstadt has been called "the most successful and certainly the most durable and most gifted woman rock singer of her era" in Andrew Greeley's book God in Popular Culture.
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, he 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."
Roy Orbison wrote this song with Joe Melson. The pair collaborated on many of Orbison's classics, including "Only The Lonely" and "Crying."
Get ready for a Twilight Zone visit! Many people (including some sharp Songfacts fans) have noticed a close similarity between this song and Orbison's "Crying." Compare the point in "Crying" where the lyrics get to "But I saw you last night, you held my hand so tight as you stopped to say hello" with the point in "Blue Bayou" where the lyrics get to "All those fishing boats with their sails afloat if I could only see." Go ahead, play then back to back and judge for yourself.
Speaking of "Crying," it has something else in common with "Blue Bayou." Both songs sound great in Spanish with female vocals; "Blue Bayou" as "Lago Azul" by Bibi Gaytan on her 1994 album Manzana Verde, and "Crying" as "Llorando" by Rebekah del Rio practically stealing the show in her cameo in the David Lynch film Mulholland Drive. David Lynch originally wanted to use "Crying" in his earlier film Blue Velvet but switched to "In Dreams." And note that this single was on Ronstadt's album, titled Simple Dreams. The circles... the circles are converging...
This was in the upper regions of the Hot 100 at the same time as Ronstadt's cover of Buddy Holly's "It's So Easy," which peaked at #5. Ronstadt was the first act since the Beatles to log two Top 5 singles at the same time.
Linda Ronstadt
Linda Ronstadt Artistfacts
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Comments (4):

On December 11th 1977, "Blue Bayou" by Linda Ronstadt peaked at #3 (for 4 weeks) on Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart; it had entered on chart on September 3rd and spent 23 weeks on the Top 100...
It reached #2 on Billboard's Hot Country Singles chart & in Canada and #3 on Billboard's Adult Contemporary Tracks chart...
Ms. Ronstadt will celebrate her 68th birthday come next July 15th...
May God bless and watch over her.
- Barry, Sauquoit, NY
Linda Ronstadt has all but been forgotten by today's music standards but she has one of the most amazing voices of all time. Just listen how it seems like she is almost crying when she sings this song. Stunning
- Laura, El Paso, TX
Linda Ronstadt had such a great voice and she did this number beautifully
- Larry, Coral Springs, FL
glad to know these trivia. i was just a kid when i first heard this but the lyrics and tone--okay, the way linda *sang* it--caught young sentimental me. never forgot it since. when i was much older it was one of the songs i recorded when we fooled around making our own "albums".
- joycemorrison, PH
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