Eco Eco

I am going out on a limb with my post today, but hopefully I can string this together enough to make some sense. I could have written about economic problems or an ecological system, but I figured that other writers would cover these topics.  My stream of consciousness lead me on this path of thoughts.  Since stream of consciousness is often a non-linear style, I will make use of associative leaps of thought, which may make my writing seem random as it leaps from one thing to the next, but actually random leaps are a part of every person’s thoughts.  My leap starts with that fact that eco rhymes with iko and if you can accept that, then keep on reading.

My favorite Mardi Gras song, is ‘Iko Iko’, which became a hit after it was recorded by the Dixie Cups in 1965.  An earlier version titled ‘Jock-a-mo’ was recorded by James ‘Sugar Boy’ Crawford and that came out in 1953, but this song was covered by many other artists, including Dr. John, the Grateful Dead, Cyndi Lauper, Dave Matthews and Warren Zevon.  It was also featured in several movie soundtracks including, Rain Man, The Hangover and Mission: Impossible II.

It’s a playful, taunting chant, that comes from the traditional call and response challenges of two battling tribes at a Mardi Gras parade.  The song describes a parade collision between two ‘tribes’ of Mardi Gras Indians.  There’s a ‘spy boy’ or ‘spy dog’ (a lookout for one band of Indians) encountering the ‘flag boy’ for another band, who threatens to set the flag on fire.  ‘Iko Iko’ was a victory chant that the Indians would shout and ‘Jock-A-Mo’ was a chant that was called when the Indians went into battle.

Linguists and anthropologists, natives of the area and professors have speculated on the origins and meaning of the words and there are many different versions of this song.  The Cajun dialect is often hard to understand and some people feel that this song has an African descent, which makes sense because many Africans that were kidnapped were sold in New Orleans.  New Orleans became one of the earliest racially integrated cities in the South, and it was home to some of the first communities of freed slaves and furthermore, the Mardi Gras Indians were thought to have aided escaped slaves in the area.

The song’s origins are steeped in mystery and it has evolved into a gumbo of regional and ethnic backgrounds that represents New Orleans.  It is thought that Jockomo means ‘brother John’, or ‘jokester’, and ‘Jockomo feeno ah na nay’ might mean ‘kiss my ass’, or ‘John is dead’.  The word Iko means ‘I go’, or ‘pay attention’, or ‘gold’, or ‘hiking around’, and it stems from French, or Yoruba or Italian.  Carnival or Mardi Gras is all about getting dressed up in costumes and years ago conical masks were made out of chicken wire for stability and then they were decorated, with festooned strips of cloth.  So, fixing someone’s chicken wire was like a joking threat to mess up their masks, since part of the battle was how good the costumes were.

Grateful Dead performing at the Greek Theater in Berkeley, CA on 8/18/89

Hey now (hey now)
Hey now (hey now)
Iko iko un day
Jockomo feeno ah na nay
Jockomo feena nay
Hey now (hey now)
Hey now (hey now)
Iko iko un day
Jockomo feeno ah na nay
Jockomo feena nay
My grandma see your grandpa
Sitting by the Bayou
My grandma see your granpa
Gonna fix your chicken wire
Hey now (hey now)
Hey now (hey now)
Iko iko un day
Jockomo feeno ah na nay
Jockomo feena nay
My spy dog see your spy dog
Sitting by the Bayou
My spy dog see your spy dog
Gonna set your tail on fire
Hey now (hey now)
Hey now (hey now)
Iko iko un day
Jockomo feeno ah na nay
Jockomo feena nay
My little boy see your little boy
Sitting by the Bayou
My little boy see your little boy
Gonna fix your chicken wire
Hey now (hey now)
Hey now (hey now)
Iko iko un day
Jockomo feeno ah na nay
Jockomo feena nay
My grandma see your grandma
Sitting by the Bayou
My grandma see your grandma
Gonna fix your chicken wire

Written for 1/6/18 Linda G. Hill’s ‘Life in progress’ Stream of Consciousness Saturday where the prompt is ‘Eco’.

8 thoughts on “Eco Eco

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