Can 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!