My personal odyssey. This is a post with a historical connotation that music lovers should be aware of.
The words of one of the greatest-ever hit songs out of New Orleans - “Iko Iko” - have puzzled millions over the years. Remember them?
"Iko Iko
Iko Iko an day
Jocomo fee no an dan day
Jocomo fee na nay."
Four months ago I decided to make it a personal project to establish the origin and meaning of the words. I never knew that my impulsive decision would lead me into relationships with some truly intriguing communities – Native American tribes, the few remaining Creole enclaves in Louisiana, Mandingo and Wollof contacts in Africa, noted University Professors, academics in Canada, the US and France, and celebrated language professors!
Now, at last, I know where the lyrics come from, who wrote them, and when (19th century). I also now know the English meaning of the words. So next time you go to Mardi Gras in New Orleans, you'll know as well!
I’ve published my findings because this is a piece of music history that music lovers should be aware of. It shouldn't be lost to posterity.
All the artists who covered this song, as well as the three Hollywood film soundtracks who used it, had no idea what the words were - Iko Iko was such a great song that the words didn't matter!
If your attention span is short, you can view the history of this song in a 3 minute clip on Youtube (type “iko iko meaning” into the searchbox). If you're a serious musical history afficionado you can read the historical data on ‘Iko Iko Wikipedia’ (use Google to find it).
If you have any comments that can improve the musical accuracy of this song you can drop me an email either through this site or if that doesn't work at ‘E-mail address removed. Please Use Private Message').
Ian Cully