"Caldonia" is a jump blues song, first recorded in 1945 by Louis Jordan and his Tympany Five. A version by Erskine Hawkins, also in 1945, was described by Billboard magazine as "rock and roll", the first time that phrase was used in print to describe any style of music.

Single by Louis Jordan and His Tympany Five
B-side"Somebody Done Changed the Lock on My Door"
Released1945 (1945)
Format10-inch 78 rpm record
RecordedJanuary 19, 1945
GenreJump blues
Songwriter(s)Fleecie Moore (credited)
Producer(s)Milt Gabler

Louis Jordan recording

In 1942, Jordan had started on an unparalleled run of success on the Billboard Harlem Hit Parade (forerunner of the R&B chart), which by 1945 had included four number-one hits, and eventually made Jordan by far the most successful R&B chart act of the 1940s.[1] "Caldonia" became his fifth number one on "Race Records" chart.[1] It debuted on the chart in May 1945 and reached number one in June, where it stayed for seven weeks. On the pop chart, the song peaked at number six with the title "Caldonia Boogie".[1]

The writing of the song is credited to Jordan's wife of the time, Fleecie Moore. However, it was written by Jordan, who used his wife's name to enable him to work with an additional music publisher. Jordan later commented, "Fleecie Moore's name is on it, but she didn't have anything to do with it. That was my wife at the time, and we put it in her name. She didn't know nothin' about no music at all. Her name is on this song and that song, and she's still getting money."[2] However, by the time of that quote, Jordan and Moore had divorced after a number of arguments in which she had stabbed him with a knife. The lyrics include Jordan's trademark use of comedy:

Walkin' with my baby she's got great big feet
She's long, lean, and lanky and ain't had nothing to eat
She's my baby and I love her just the same
Crazy 'bout that woman 'cause Caldonia is her name

The verses conclude with the refrain:

Caldonia! Caldonia!
What makes your big head so hard?
I love her, I love her just the same
Crazy 'bout that woman 'cause Caldonia is her name

Jordan re-recorded the song in 1956, arranged by Quincy Jones with Mickey Baker on guitar.[3] Jordan also filmed a "soundie" performance of the song, which was shown in movie theaters.

Renditions by other artists

At the same time as Jordan's success, the song was also recorded both by Erskine Hawkins and Woody Herman. The issue of Billboard magazine for April 21, 1945, described Hawkins' version as "right rhythmic rock and roll music", possibly the first use of the term to describe a musical style, and pre-dating by 14 months a more often cited use of the words in a June 1946 description of "Sugar Lump" by Joe Liggins.[4] Hawkins' version of "Caldonia", featuring piano and vocals by Ace Harris, reached number two on the Billboard R&B chart and number 12 on the pop chart.[1] Herman's version, arranged by the young Neal Hefti, reached number two on the pop chart.[5]Also included on Muddy Waters Woodstock album featuring Paul Butterfield and members of The Band.

As one of Jordan's best-known songs, "Caldonia" has also been recorded by a variety of artists. James Brown recorded it in 1964 as his first release for Smash Records. Featuring an arrangement by Sammy Lowe, it reached number 95 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.[6]


  1. Whitburn, Joel (2004). Top R&B/Hip-Hop Singles: 1942–2004. Record Research. pp. 229, 185.
  2. "Claude Demetrius". Archived from the original on April 14, 2017. Retrieved July 26, 2016.
  3. Jordan. Louis, ‘’The Greatest Hits: No Moe!’’, Mercury Records, 1992 liner notes
  4. "Billboard". 1945-04-21. p. 66. Retrieved July 26, 2016.
  5. John Fordham. "Obituary: Neal Hefti | Music". The Guardian. Retrieved July 26, 2016.
  6. White, Cliff (1991). "Discography". In Star Time (pp. 54–59) [CD booklet]. New York: PolyGram Records.
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