Mudcat Café message #546857 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #38525   Message #546857
Posted By: Joe Offer
11-Sep-01 - 05:19 AM
Thread Name: Cajun Mardi Gras songs
Subject: ADD: An Acadian Mardi Gras Song
Although currently found only in three communities, this form of Mardi Gras song was traditionally used in other areas of Louisiana. For example, in 1936 Lauren Post recorded the following "Acadian Mardi Gras Song" in Lafayette Parish approximately 40 miles east of Tee Mamou (Post 1936:10)12.

An Acadian Mardi Gras Song

O, Mardi Gras, de ou tu viens, toute alontour du fond du verre?
(repeat three times)
Je viens de l'Angleterre, oui je viens, oui je viens,
Je viens de l'Angleterre, oui mon cher, oui mon cher.

O, Mardi Gras, quoi tu portes dan la bouteille?
Je portes du vin dans la bouteille.

La bouteille du vin est bu,

Li reste que la p1ein verre,

Il reste que le fond du verre,

Il reste que le rincure,

Le rincure du vin est bu.

Il reste que le bouchon,

Le bouchon on boira pas.
Oh, Mardi Gras, from where do you come, all around the drinking glass?
(repeat three times)
I come from England, yes, I come, yes, I come,
I come from England, yes my dear, yes my dear.

Oh, Mardi Gras, what have you in your bottle?
I have wine in my bottle.

The bottle of wine is drunk,

Only a glassful is left,

Only the bottom of the glass is left,

Only the rinsings are left,

The rinsings have been drunk.

Only the cork is left,

The cork, we shall not drink.


The Tee Mamou, Grand Marais, and Post songs have the same basic structure. Like the Tee Mamou song, the Grand Marais and Post versions ask from where the Mardi Gras come and the reply is England. There are slight differences in wording, for example, the use of Je (I) as opposed to On (we), the use of et ou (where) instead of d'ou (from where), and oh mon cher (oh my dear), as opposed to oui mon cher (yes my dear). The body of all these Mardi Gras songs narrate the gradual consumption of a bottle of beverage. However, a significant deviation among the Mardi Gras songs occur in that the Tee Mamou and Post variants ask what the Mardi Gras carries, whereas the Grand Marais version states, "Mardi Gras behave yourself:" Another distinction is the reference to the dregs/rinsings which are consumed in the Grand Marais song but not in the Grand Marais song, whereas in Post's version, reference is made to the bottle's cork as the remnant of a once fill bottle.
These Mardi Gras songs are presented within the context of a begging ritual, but no reference is made to charity or the items associated with it. The only request which occurs is in the last verse of the Tee Mamou variant when the Master and Mistress are asked for their eldest daughter whose feet the Mardi Gras wish to warm up, presumably by dancing.13. The Grand Marais song, on the other hand, is rounded out with entirely (sic) lines that will be discussed shortly.
Because Tee Mamou, Grand Marais, and Lacassine lay directly west of the area where Post recorded "An Acadian Mardi Gras Song," one could assume a westward diffusion of the basic song through time in conjunction with the historical westward movement of Louisiana French. Also, similarities in the Tee Mamou and Grand Marais Mardi Gras songs could occur because the groups are geographically close. In the past, as well as the present, there were individuals who participated with both groups or lived in both communities during their lifetime. For example, the father of Drozin Sonnier, a long-serving Grand Marais captain in the early decades of the 20th century, was raised in the area where the Tee Mamou variant is performed. He later moved to the Grand Marais area, where Drozin was born, and eventually assumed leadership of the Grand Marais Mardi Gras group (Sexton 1996).
These forms of the Mardi Gras song demonstrate slight to moderate deviations from generic French Canadian drinking songs such as "Ami, Ami, d'ou reviens-tu"? (friend, friend, from where do you return) (Hebert n.d.), and "Je Reviens de la Guerre" (I return from the war) (Barbeau 1925). Both songs were collected in early 20th-century Quebec, but similar variants are found in the Canadian Maritimes.14.
(continued)