Mudcat Café message #1827331 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #88125   Message #1827331
Posted By: Azizi
05-Sep-06 - 07:56 AM
Thread Name: Iko Iko
Subject: RE: Iko Iko
In case someone is searching for information on terms associated with the Mardi Gras Indian chants and other New Orleans songs, and hasn't visited the Jacomo finane? What does that mean?
thread yet, I'm reposting excerpts of this comment that I posted on that thread today:

"...visit my website page for [the explanation I quoted above that GUEST,Bob Coltman gave about the meaning of jacomo "finane"] and other explanations of words & phrases mentioned in Iko Iko and other Mardi Gras Indian songs such as these:

"Marraine" (pronounced ma-rane) is a Cajun-French term for "Grandmother". Similarly, "Parraine" for Grandfather, "cousin" (pronounced koo-zan) for cousin, etc. This is why when the Dixie Cups covered the song Iko Iko, they changed the lyric to "Grandma". However, in Spanish, "reina" means queen, and "mi reina" is "my queen." Conflating the French "ma", or "my" and the Spanish "reina", therefore, seems to be the origin for the cajun "Marraine". However it's not much of a stretch to assume it could also mean a consort. In the Italian slang, "goomadre" is a "code" word which on the surface would seem to mean grandmother, but whose hidden meaning is mistress, as in "I'm going to see my goomadre". See also the term "goombah" which is the masculine form of the same word, and which is a phonetic spelling of the Italian word "compare", which is similar to the Spanish "compadre", meaning old (male) friend..."


These explanations were provided to me by NOLA/NYC who shared in a number of email exchanges beginning in 4/3/06, as his name alludes, he was a longtime resident of New Orleans now living in New York City, and has ongoing interactions with New Orleans musicians & other folks who live {or lived} in New Orleans.

Here's another quote from an email I received from NOLA/NYC in 4/06:
[this isn't included in my post in the Jacomo finane thread]:

"The "chicken sack" line is another example of a phrase being somewhat obscured by the heavy "Nawlins" accent, which Dr. John has in spades. The actual line is: "She put it here in a chicken sack." This probably refers to something--drugs, whiskey or even a weapon--left hidden for a specific person to find "down the railroad track"--usually a deserted area away from prying eyes. The "fix yo' chicken wiyo" line elsewhere in the song is a threat to damage a person's chicken wire, which is the foundation on which many of the Mardi Gras costumes are built and is in keeping with the general theme of rivalry between the various Mardi Gras "tribes"."

Of particular interest to me is NOLA/NYC's comment that "There was indeed a Mardi Gras this year,[2006] with Indians, maskers and more, although somewhat smaller than prior to Katrina. But the people there are amazingly resilient and although their spirit has been tested, as you can see, it has not been broken".


I'd love to hear from others who have any knowledge about the Mardi Gras Indian traditions in New Orleans before Hurricane Katrina and afterwards. You can pm me or contact me via the Cocojams website.