I thought to share a tad of musicology and folk history this morning. I excuse myself from laziness because this is a good job by Dr. John describing and explaining the etymology of a Creole Patois. The word Iko..(Aiko)..means to express oneself with a musical beat..in song..dance or instrument. The lyric does say ‘Iko Iko all day’. With that I present the good Dr.’s presentation off the cover of his 1972 album ‘Dr. John’s Gumbo‘
‘The song was written and recorded in the early 1950’s (1953) by a New Orléans singer named James Crawford who worked under the name of ‘Sugar Boy and the Cane Cutters’. It was recorded in the 1960’s by the Dixie Cups for Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller‘s Red Bird Records, but the format we’re following here is Sugar Boy’s original. Also in the group were Professor Longhair on Piano, Jake Myles, Big Boy Myles, Irv Bannister on Guitar and Eugene ‘Bones’ Jones on drums. The group was also known as the Chipaka Shaweez. The song was originally called Jocko Mo, and it has a lot of Creole patois in it. Jocko Mo means Jester in the old myth. It is Mardi Gras music and the Shaweez was one of many Mardi Gras groups who dressed up in far out indian costumes and came on as indian tribes. The tribe used to hang out on Claiborne Ave. and used to get juiced up there getting ready to perform and ‘second line’ in their own special style during Mardi Gras. That’s dead and gone because there is a freeway were those grounds used to be . The tribes were like social clubs who lived all year for Mardi Gras, getting their costumes together. Many of them were musicians, gamblers, hustlers and pimps.’
The first commercial recording of this song was done in the waiting room of a recording studio. While waiting to session they bagan singing the song..for rhythm the drummer used his sticks and ashtrays. Leiber and Stoller recorded this..they added bass and drums and that was what went out to the public.
This is of special interest to me. Long ago George ‘Fish’ Meyers, a good friend and creative musician, after a band practice, said ‘everyone grab something and tap out what you feel..a rock, tin can..whatever’..to the 20 or so folks in his front yard. I used my harp for some do waka doo..Tim had his guitar..the result was amazing. A solid good beat.
In one of my quotes I said..’Knowledge is word definition and skill is pragmatic application of knowledge’. I continually find credence for this quote in researching etymology and well done historical writings or observations as well as understanding of the whys and wherefores of certain colloquial oddities, phrases and social actions.
In this time of ‘researching to repair the bumbles’..when there are more things..either through wear and tear or lack of knowledge and/or attention..that ‘need fixin’..than those well done, good things which have stood the test of time and ravages of the living..’it is important to communicate as honestly as possible’. If one can do that it is a beginning of communication..honesty in social groups..forming society.
To misrepresent is a lie..which wastes time, the most valuable of resources.
If I attempt to speak honestly..as I know myself..I feel I have done more than most in this area..Peace Tony