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View Full Version : Iko Iko should be dropped from uke group songbooks



~dave~~wave~
07-11-2012, 03:01 PM
How in the heck did Iko Iko get into everybody's songbook, but there's not one group in 20 that can play it worth a darn?

Answer- it only has two chords.
Worst reason in the world to pick a song for a group to play.

It was never a popular tune, nobody grew up hearing it on the radio.

Little wonder it gets butchered when a group sitting on their bottoms staring at a page attempt to pull it off.

No rhythm, no soul.
The evidence on YouTube is overwhelming IMHO.

Just a minor pet peeve of mine.
Discuss.

Markr1
07-11-2012, 03:03 PM
I've never heard of it before.

fernandogardinali
07-11-2012, 03:05 PM
I agree! I always skip that one.

ksiegel
07-11-2012, 03:25 PM
I've heard Iko Iko numerous times - used to hear the Neville Brothers recording on the radio all the time, it was featured in some silly made for tv movie in the 80s starring Justine Bateman (Mallory from "Family Ties"), and was a staple at the music parties held at Minicon, a Science Fiction convention in Minneapolis. (One of Steven Brust's standbys.) I think Steve got it from the Grateful Dead, who used to do it in concert. First recording was by the Dixie Cups in 1965.

So Dave, it may not have been popular where you come from, but it certainly has been popular plenty of other places! Just gotta get the rhythm right.



-Kurt

southcoastukes
07-11-2012, 03:46 PM
Never heard it on Youtube, but being from New Orleans, I hear it all the time.

If you'd ever heard it done right, it has more rythm and soul than any song I can think of. Seems to me the fact that it has only 2 chords would allow someone to more easily practice a little creole rythym. Not the song's fault that the Youtubers you've heard aren't up to it.

p.s: it can go on for a long time here - lots and lots of verses, or you make 'em up as the dancing / parading moves along. it's an "indian chant", after all. you might get more of a kick out of the song if you knew what some of the lyrics meant.

ScooterD35
07-11-2012, 03:56 PM
I love Iko Iko!



http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qGt0TFPLdsg&feature=fvwrel

Scooter

RichM
07-11-2012, 04:12 PM
How in the heck did Iko Iko get into everybody's songbook, but there's not one group in 20 that can play it worth a darn?

Answer- it only has two chords.
Worst reason in the world to pick a song for a group to play.

It was never a popular tune, nobody grew up hearing it on the radio.

Little wonder it gets butchered when a group sitting on their bottoms staring at a page attempt to pull it off.

No rhythm, no soul.
The evidence on YouTube is overwhelming IMHO.

Just a minor pet peeve of mine.
Discuss.

I am delighted that there are no sourpusses like you in my uke group. Some people just need to complain about something.

janeray1940
07-11-2012, 04:19 PM
It was never a popular tune, nobody grew up hearing it on the radio.


This version, which was a hit the year I was born, was on all the "oldies" radio stations when I was growing up. But the last true oldies station (meaning, to me, 1960s and older music) in these parts disappeared sometime in the 1990s I think... so I can imagine that folks under a certain age may not be familiar with it.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l6rDdWPYdgg

SweetWaterBlue
07-11-2012, 04:27 PM
I like it, but there is no accounting for taste

robbocx
07-11-2012, 04:39 PM
Well, you need to change your radio station :)

One of my favourite stations is Vintage FM they play everything from the 1940's through to 1969 (remember the moon walk).

http://vintagefm.com.au/VintagePlayer/

Jcollazo
07-11-2012, 04:48 PM
I used to play in a 60s dance band. Because of the beat, Iko Iko was quite popular. From there we would go into Hand Jive. And this was only about 5 years ago.

Ive run into a number of people who, because of location or age, have never heard many of the songs I grew up with.

mketom
07-11-2012, 05:17 PM
"No rhythm, no soul"?
Really?

Here's the Dixie Cups... (again)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0wNSHPQj0W8&feature=youtube_gdata_player

And these clowns don't think it's missing rhythm or soul...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?
v=jsAgSZxAH98&feature=youtube_gdata_player (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jsAgSZxAH98&feature=youtube_gdata_player)

One more on ukulele...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7rYLgtMhqY8&feature=youtube_gdata_player

mds725
07-11-2012, 10:46 PM
This version, which was a hit the year I was born, was on all the "oldies" radio stations when I was growing up. But the last true oldies station (meaning, to me, 1960s and older music) in these parts disappeared sometime in the 1990s I think... so I can imagine that folks under a certain age may not be familiar with it.

Iko Iko actually got a big popularity bump in 1988 when it was included in the film Rain Man, performed by the Belle Stars. It reached 14 on the Billboard Top 100 in March 2009.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i4aEm8zTK5Y


I'm not really sure what the OP's complaint about this song is. There's no logical link between the failure of people in the OP's ukulele group to play it because they've never heard it and the OP's conclusion that the song has no rhythm and no soul. I would imagine that there may be a number of other songs in ukulele group songbooks that people who show up at ukulele group meetings didn't hear on the radio growing up (many songs from the 20s come to mind). Frankly, if my ukulele group is going to play a song I've never heard of (we use The Daily Ukulele), I take the time to look for it on YouTube so I have some idea of what I'm supposed to do when the song comes up.

Wicked
07-12-2012, 01:50 AM
They key to a decent rendition of Iko Iko is the second line rhythm (son clave in Latin music circles). Playing it straight will just give you a hot mess.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clave_(rhythm)

~dave~~wave~
07-12-2012, 02:14 AM
I am delighted that there are no sourpusses like you in my uke group. Some people just need to complain about something.

Ha, guilty as charged. :o

Thanks for the feedback, everybody.

I obviously wasn't clear in my original post.
I love Iko Iko. I know it well.

I didn't intend to turn this into a referendum on the song itself.

Rather, I was trying to express my bafflement that it is in so many groups' repertoires, but when I look at YouTube videos of uke groups playing it, I can only listen to 10 seconds before tuning out.


They key to a decent rendition of Iko Iko is the second line rhythm (son clave in Latin music circles). Playing it straight will just give you a hot mess.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clave_(rhythm)

^^^^
Well put, thank you.

There have been several video links posted, but only one on ukulele, and that is from a solo player, not a group.

I won't post bad examples, but here's one of the few good ones:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aFjxjbjl1aQ

I dropped in on a group in another city last year, and when Iko Iko was called, I was delighted, but when I tried to play the Bo Diddley syncopated rhythm, everybody else was playing it in straight four.
They saved the "shave and a haircut" beat for the last measure of the song.

When I inquired why they didn't play that beat all the way through, a sweet lady patiently explained "We tried it like that, but it was too hard to play and sing at the same time." :confused:

Same with my hometown group, it ends up sounding more like Blowin' In the Wind when we play it. :eek:


...if my ukulele group is going to play a song I've never heard of (we use The Daily Ukulele), I take the time to look for it on YouTube so I have some idea of what I'm supposed to do when the song comes up.

Thanks, that's what I'm driving at.

strumsilly
07-12-2012, 02:39 AM
Yea, it's all about the rhythm. you can sing almost any song that will fit the "Bo Diddly" rhythm and it comes out much cooler. I like to play "Mockingbird" to it.

The Big Kahuna
07-12-2012, 02:40 AM
Why has no one posted Dr John doing this ? Someone needs to pass a law banning anyone but him from performing it.

Actually, while we're at it, can we have a law that bans anyone but Dr John & Tom Waits from performing music at all ?

Bill Mc
07-12-2012, 03:31 AM
How in the heck did Iko Iko get into everybody's songbook, but there's not one group in 20 that can play it worth a darn?

Answer- it only has two chords.
Worst reason in the world to pick a song for a group to play.

It was never a popular tune, nobody grew up hearing it on the radio.

Little wonder it gets butchered when a group sitting on their bottoms staring at a page attempt to pull it off.

No rhythm, no soul.
The evidence on YouTube is overwhelming IMHO.

Just a minor pet peeve of mine.
Discuss.

Dave, I think you should say you never heard it growing up on the radio. Don't speak for everyone else.

RichM
07-12-2012, 03:41 AM
Why has no one posted Dr John doing this ? Someone needs to pass a law banning anyone but him from performing it.

Actually, while we're at it, can we have a law that bans anyone but Dr John & Tom Waits from performing music at all ?

Absolutely, we need laws limiting who can play music. After all, that's what UU is all about-- that playing music is for a select few and nobody else.

vanflynn
07-12-2012, 03:44 AM
Well, you need to change your radio station :)

One of my favourite stations is Vintage FM they play everything from the 1940's through to 1969 (remember the moon walk).

http://vintagefm.com.au/VintagePlayer/

Us old farts see that and think of Neil Armstrong, not Micheal Jackson!

southcoastukes
07-12-2012, 04:44 AM
I didn't intend to turn this into a referendum on the song itself.

Rather, I was trying to express my bafflement that it is in so many groups' repertoires, but when I look at YouTube videos of uke groups playing it, I can only listen to 10 seconds before tuning out....

Thanks, that's what I'm driving at.

Got it.....and wow, I see what you mean. If your example was a "good one"........well.......

It should be an easy enough thing to fix. Look back at the Dixie Cups version if you want to do it with a New Orleans flavor.

Here, band is the most popular elective at school - much more so than football or basketball. Everybody wants to parade at Mardi Gras. The bands practice every night after school. Behind my old place on Magazine street, the Live Oak Middle School band would march around the block (holding up traffic).

The school owns the drums, but the kids in the drum line buy their own sticks. I heard some of the best stuff when after school the drum line would come down Magazine headed for the bus stop playing their sticks - on the sides of the old wooden storefronts as well. There were always more kids with sticks than there were drummers, so obviously some of the other band members would buy sticks for the after practice marching & parading.

So get a few pair of drum sticks. Then throw in a cheap Indian tom-tom. I'll bet the ukes keep better time when they've got some percussion.

Other ways to do it would be tap the bodies, or have one set of ukes play the tom-tom rhythm and others play the stick beat. The stick rhythm players could even muffle their strings and become percussionists that way.

It's a street parade song, with more than just one rhythm. If the groups could grasp this, I'll bet Iko Iko could become one of the most popular songs in their repretoire.

Pukulele Pete
07-12-2012, 05:00 AM
Absolutely, we need laws limiting who can play music. After all, that's what UU is all about-- that playing music is for a select few and nobody else.

While you're at it , could you pass a law forbidding geared tuners on sopranos . Thanks.

Yes , Iko Iko by Dr. John is the best version.

Raygf
07-12-2012, 05:06 AM
Late to the thread!

"If you don't like what the Big Chief say, jackamo feena nay!"


http://youtu.be/b59qLAIIK7I

nohoval_turrets
07-12-2012, 05:18 AM
While you're at it , could you pass a law forbidding geared tuners on sopranos . Thanks.

Yes , Iko Iko by Dr. John is the best version.

I think we're on the right track here. Also ban low g, baritone and tenor ukes, and frown severely at concert ukes.

Leodhas
07-12-2012, 06:26 AM
I just looked this up and saw that it originated in New Orleans. I was taught this in the primary school growing up (I think that was a fairly standard practice for my generation), I thought it was just an innocent kids song.

southcoastukes
07-12-2012, 07:31 AM
Leodhas
I just looked this up and saw that it originated in New Orleans. I was taught this in the primary school growing up (I think that was a fairly standard practice for my generation), I thought it was just an innocent kids song.

Woops! I thought everybody knew this. The lyrics are a mixture of French Creole & Mobilian Indian.

The Indian tribes here parade on Mardi Gras, Saint Joseph's, & now "Super Sunday" (a meeting of the tribes). They have a whole repretoire of songs in the old languages mixed w/ English.

Of course, kids learn these songs - Iko Iko being the favorite. The Dixie Cups were in their mid-teens when they made their stick & tom-tom version. Look back at Janeray's post to see how young they were.

There are lots of Indian videos available, but it's hard to capture a street parade on camera. Even though her versions of Indian songs in this are rather perfunctory, here's something from Charmaine Neville that gives a glimpse of the "culcha":


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ze8dLWTHfCU

southcoastukes
07-12-2012, 07:32 AM
Here's a bit from Treme that benefits, of course, from good camera and sound. Some of the folks here are actual chiefs:


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mws6p0MGp6U

southcoastukes
07-12-2012, 07:33 AM
and here's an old rehearsal. The room setting gives a better idea of the sound than a street recording.



http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gEjeRcFP_7I

As I mentioned earlier, you need some percussion to play it. Sticks & Tom-Tom!

Mahn ne -cudi fiyo!

Uke Whisperer
07-12-2012, 07:46 AM
I remember (as a part time DJ) playing the song on Thursday night's "Platter Party" back in 1965. The station considered in Cajun Folklore at the time. I can't remember who performed it, but it did get popular back then.

southcoastukes
07-12-2012, 08:37 AM
I remember (as a part time DJ) playing the song on Thursday night's "Platter Party" back in 1965. The station considered in Cajun Folklore at the time. I can't remember who performed it, but it did get popular back then.
---Tom---

Cajuns are different from Creoles. They came later, around 1800 during the British "ethnic cleansing" of the Canadian province then called Acadia (acadien became cajien became cajun). They're country folks, not "city people", speak a whole lot more french these days than we do (a different dialect), and have their own version of Mardi Gras. It's a lot of fun, dressing up as a medieval jester (masked) and riding around on horseback swilling whiskey and jumping down at various farmhouses to stumble around after chickens and maybe pigs for the gumbo pot later that day.

They have their own songs, and a different style of music, but of course there's a lot of trading back & forth. Here's a version of Iko Iko by Zachary Richard "the Cajun Troubador" (#10 - and he does it pretty much creole style, but with a little cajun squeezebox thrown in):

http://www.songarea.com/music-codes/zachary_richard.html

bazmaz
07-12-2012, 09:47 AM
I think the results of the poll so far give you the answer!

vanflynn
07-12-2012, 10:05 AM
Now Kumbaya, that's another story!

pulelehua
07-12-2012, 10:38 AM
I suspect more ukulele clubs need to get up and get their groove on.

Too many people sitting in too many chairs staring at too many sheets of music. IT'S GOT TWO CHORDS! Get up and dance!

strumsilly
07-12-2012, 10:41 AM
Now Kumbaya, that's another story!
oh yea, take that

http://youtu.be/NLJPCdV5Ogw

vanflynn
07-12-2012, 10:44 AM
I stand corrected! Thanks for that version

strumsilly
07-12-2012, 10:50 AM
I stand corrected! Thanks for that version
Ha, just playing with you, you could do Mary Had a Little lamb to that beat and it would be danceable.

mikelz777
07-12-2012, 10:55 AM
He Bo Diddley-ed it. :)

southcoastukes
07-12-2012, 11:29 AM
... you could do Mary Had a Little lamb to that beat and it would be danceable.

Ha!, yourself! Sounds very nice even without percussion.

(BTW, I have inside information that, on ocassion, this fellow sneaks down the coast and into the city!)

Chris Tarman
07-12-2012, 11:46 AM
I think the Grateful Dead version was the first I ever heard, and I always hated it... Along with just about every other Dead song I've ever heard (ducking to avoid the tomatoes being lobbed my way by Dead fans). But the Dr. John version? That's a different story! Dr. John could sing his grocery list and it would be cooler and groove harder than most of us EVER could!

strumsilly
07-12-2012, 11:50 AM
Ha!, yourself! Sounds very nice even without percussion.

(BTW, I have inside information that, on ocassion, this fellow sneaks down the coast and into the city!)
not often enough. I had a blast sittin on the square jamming with the street preformers.

strumsilly
07-12-2012, 12:41 PM
I think the Grateful Dead version was the first I ever heard, and I always hated it... Along with just about every other Dead song I've ever heard (ducking to avoid the tomatoes being lobbed my way by Dead fans). But the Dr. John version? That's a different story! Dr. John could sing his grocery list and it would be cooler and groove harder than most of us EVER could!
amen to that. Dr. John has more groove in his pinky nail than I do in my whole body. But I really like "Ripple" and like to play and sing it.

Wicked
07-12-2012, 01:10 PM
Hey, Dirk, I never made the connection between "Southcoast" and LA... Don't know why. I will be down your way quite a bit over the next year for a project that I am working on... I guess that I will have to visit.

I have not been to New Orleans since before Katrina.... but I have a whole lot of stories from my younger days.... Most are NSFW, all are musical.

'ili puakea
07-12-2012, 02:50 PM
I've heard Iko Iko numerous times - used to hear the Neville Brothers recording on the radio all the time, it was featured in some silly made for tv movie in the 80s starring Justine Bateman (Mallory from "Family Ties"), and was a staple at the music parties held at Minicon, a Science Fiction convention in Minneapolis. (One of Steven Brust's standbys.) I think Steve got it from the Grateful Dead, who used to do it in concert. First recording was by the Dixie Cups in 1965.

So Dave, it may not have been popular where you come from, but it certainly has been popular plenty of other places! Just gotta get the rhythm right.



-Kurt

Dixie Cups? No, no, no. James "Sugar Boy" Crawford recorded "Jock-A-Mo, " aka "Iko-Iko," for Chess Records in 1953. Best version so far, IMO.

southcoastukes
07-12-2012, 04:08 PM
Dixie Cups? No, no, no. James "Sugar Boy" Crawford recorded "Jock-A-Mo, " aka "Iko-Iko," for Chess Records in 1953. Best version so far, IMO.

Correct you are! Sugarboy & the Canecutters. He used to mask Indian. You may want to check out his grandson Davell Crawford - unbelievable piano talent.

Professor Longhair would do Iko sometimes - his version was similar to Sugarboy's, with more roll on the right hand. The song is actually well over 100 years old, as are many of the Indian songs. The first tribes supposedly started parading around 1890, but most of the songs are older than the tribes.

While Sugarboy, Fess, the Nevilles and (as many have rightfully noted) Dr. John all do great versions of this song. I still like the Dixie Cups myself, just because, as I mentioned, it reminds me of when the kids get out of band practice and come down the street playing sticks. Also because it's so simple to pick up that sort of percussion - tom-tom & sticks (cowbells and tambourines are louder and take more practice to get really good). It should fit nicely with an ukulele group.

southcoastukes
07-12-2012, 04:14 PM
Hey, Dirk, I never made the connection between "Southcoast" and LA... Don't know why. I will be down your way quite a bit over the next year for a project that I am working on... I guess that I will have to visit.

I have not been to New Orleans since before Katrina.... but I have a whole lot of stories from my younger days.... Most are NSFW, all are musical.

I look forward to meeting you (and hearing about the mysterious project).

A lot of what tourists see hasn't changed much since Katrina. The Quarter and Uptown (the sliver by the river) didn't flood, but 80% of the city as a whole went under.

I've put off a few things (ukulele wise especially), as I should finally finish seven years of my own rebuilding shortly. Looking to beat the 7 year anniversay this August. Over on this side of the lake, it was trees more than water. A 150' pine will cut through a house faster than a hot knife through butter.