Blogging from A to Z: Z is for Zydeco

zCan you believe it?  We’re on the last day of #atozchallenge!  I’ll talk more about my experience in a reflections post tomorrow.  For now, let’s get to the business at hand.

Zydeco is a genre of music with its roots in southern Louisiana.  A lot of people think it’s the same thing as Cajun music, but it really isn’t.  Cajun music primarily consists of waltzes and two-steps that came from Acadia — what we now call Nova Scotia.  It came primarily out of white communities.  Zydeco is a little bit more like rhythm and blues, and it came primarily from the people of color.  Another difference is that zydeco is primarily sung in Louisiana Creole, or kouri-vini.  The outside influences are similar, in that both genres feature accordion (button or piano), violin, and rhythm.  The latter is a good way to tell the difference if you’re unsure; Cajun music uses a triangle, and zydeco uses a frottoir, or rub board.

So, where did the term come from?  According to Lee Benoit, a Cajun musician from Rayne, Louisiana, a music journalist had been listening to Clifton Chenier perform a song called “Les Haricots Ne Pas Salé” and asked what the music was called.  Chenier’s Creole accent was so heavy that the journalist wrote down what he thought he heard: zydeco.  Some of the big names in zydeco are the late Boozoo Chavis, Rockin’ Dopsie, the late Buckwheat Zydeco and, of course, Chenier.

I’m delighted to present two zydeco greats today.  The first track is Clifton Chenier’s “M’appel Fou” (They Call Me Crazy), and the second is a fun video featuring Boozoo Chavis’ “Motor Dude Special” — a song named after Chavis’ horse.  Laissez les bontemps rouler!

15 thoughts on “Blogging from A to Z: Z is for Zydeco

  1. When my husband and I visited New Orleans, we stopped at a small restaurant (I had crawfish pie) and a band played Zydeco music. We loved the beat and sprang from our chairs to dance in the small area in front of the band. Then we bought their CD. I have one of their songs on a playlist I use for when I hula hoop.

    I had forgotten that genre is called Zydeco until today. Thank you!

    Trudy @ Reel Focus
    Food in Film: Zagnut


    1. Thanks, first of all, for supporting local music! I was in the business for several years, and every one of those CD sales (when I was in the biz it was tapes) matters! Second, thanks for stopping by and commenting. I had an absolute blast doing the challenge this year.


  2. Great stuff on zydeco. And what a cool word, huh! I’m not positive I’ve heard zydeco music before, but I’m guessing from what I’ve learned here, I’d probably like it.

    I’m behind because my family swooped in and took me on vacation the last part of April, so I’m still catching up. That said, congratulations on making it all the way through the 2017 challenge. Don’t mind me if I’m snooping around a few letters here and there. Not sure which ones I’ve missed!


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