I’m gonna be at the Christmas tree with my ma cher ami-o

I’ve been looking for the words to this song for, like, two years now. Papa Noel by Brenda Lee. Written by someone named Roy Botkin. I picked this up on a collection called Christmas Belles from Rhino, and simply fell in love with it. But give it a listen and you’ll see how hard it […]

I’ve been looking for the words to this song for, like, two years now.

Papa Noel by Brenda Lee. Written by someone named Roy Botkin. I picked this up on a collection called Christmas Belles from Rhino, and simply fell in love with it.

But give it a listen and you’ll see how hard it is to pick out the words.

Someone, finally, has got a transcription. It’s not quite right; I think there are some cajun-isms that don’t make a lot of sense phonetically. But it’s damned close, close enough that you could actually sing along with it and not utterly butcher it.

Here’s the thread on Mudcat.org where they’re working on it.

And below are the lyrics, with my corrections (and DN’s) on a couple things.

Hey Beau, let’s go and get pirogue and push-pole down the bayou,
I want to see the Christmas Tree, dance o- fais dodo.
Have a big time and cut a shine, where all will be gay-o
Oh, Santa Claus will come tonight, down on the bayou

Papa Noel will bring the bells and all will be gay-o
I’m gonna be at the Christmas tree with my ma chère ami-o
So ring the chimes, it’s Christmas time and pick the old banjo
Oh, Santa Claus will come tonight, down on the bayou

Instrumental interlude

See ma Nannan and ma Parrain, I know they’ll all be there-o,
See Ol’ Quelqu’un and Mamoun, Bébé and Jo-Jo,
See Jolivet oh my sweet pet and get me some sugar,
Oh, Santa Claus will come tonight, down on the bayou

So roll the rug, let’s kiss and hug and let’s all be gay-o,
A merry Christmas to you all and a happy bonne année-o
I’m gonna dance all through the night, ’til daylight with my babe-o,
Oh, Santa Claus will come tonight, down on the bayou

Instrumental interlude

Dionne wants a push-y-on, a pistolette and yo-yo,
My Jolivet, oh my sweet pet, Lord cher ami-o,
Oh Auntie Luce will cook the goose, and she will serve the gumbo,
Oh, Santa Claus will come tonight, down on the bayou

Papa Noel will bring the bells and all will be gay-o
I’m gonna be at the Christmas tree with my ma cher ami-o
So ring the chimes, it’s Christmas time and pick the old banjo
Oh, Santa Claus will come tonight, down on the bayou

If anyone can make any corrections or additions to that, let me know (Brutha Ray?) and I’ll post ’em on Mudcat. We’ll see if we can get it closer.

[ note – corrections by darkneuro in place – thanks baby! ]

I love this song…

19 thoughts on “I’m gonna be at the Christmas tree with my ma cher ami-o”

  1. OK, Karl Elvis. Words fascinate me and figuring things out with sound fascinates me. The ONLY one I couldn’t figure out was on the 3rd verse. I used idiot’s mixing software to slow it down, isolate and clean it up a bit. I’m confident on first verse. 2nd verse 2nd line is a bit wonky, but that’s the ONLY thing it could be given the use of Mamoun (nickname originally from Africa, actually).

    The only other thing I can do is call Cousin Adelaide who would call Cousin Butch who would drive out to Uncle Rolly’s place and talk with Aunt Georgie who MAY go ask Leather or Lener who would write it out for Rolly. Since he IS Cajun. But he don’t hear too good.

    First verse:
    First line: pirogue (pronounced peerow)
    Second line: dance o- fais dodo (traditional cajun dance)

    Second verse:
    1st line: Nanan and Parran (god mother/father)
    2nd line: Ol’ Quelqu’un and Mamoun –Nicknames

    Third verse:
    No idea, but it’s not Diane, it’s Dionne.
    Mom says it’s a push-y-on short for Push you on, and it’s a little ride-on toy. At least, she SAYS because “Well, I had one, and that’s what Rolly and Daddy called it”.

  2. I first read that and thought “how the fuck did Karl know what a pirogue was?” Then I read the comments. DN is smart.

    I haven’t listened to it yet, but the words sounds similar to Hank Williams’ “Jambalaya”.

  3. This is “Jamabalaya”, by Hank Williams, first in English, then in Cajun French. Freakily similar. I pulled this off of cajunradio.com so the spellings should be pretty good, except the spelling of “Fontenot” is not how the Fontenots I knew in New Orleans spelled it.

    (Karl, we need to get you back to Louisiana soon if Brenda Lee pretending to speak Cajun is doing it for you. You been away from the bayou too long.)

    JAMBALAYA

    Good-bye Joe, me gotta go, me oh my oh
    Me gotta go pole the pirogue down the bayou
    My Yvonne, the sweetest one, me oh my oh
    Son of a gun, we’ll have big fun on the bayou

    (Chorus)
    Jambalaya and a crawfish pie and file’ gumbo
    ‘Cause tonight I’m gonna see my ma cher amio
    Pick guitar, fill fruit jar and be gay-o
    Son of a gun, we’ll have big fun on the bayou

    Thibodeaux, Fontainenot, the place is buzzin’
    Kinfolk come to see Yvonne by the dozen
    Dress in style and go hog wild, me oh my oh
    Son of a gun, we’ll have big fun on the bayou

    (Chorus)
    Jambalaya and a crawfish pie and file’ gumbo
    ‘Cause tonight I’m gonna see my ma cher amio
    Pick guitar, fill fruit jar and be gay-o
    Son of a gun, we’ll have big fun on the bayou

    Settle down, far from town, get me a pirogue
    And I’ll catch all the fish in the bayou
    Swap my mon to buy Yvonne what she need-o
    Son of a gun, we’ll have big fun on the bayou

    (Chorus)
    Jambalaya and a crawfish pie and file’ gumbo
    ‘Cause tonight I’m gonna see my ma cher amio
    Pick guitar, fill fruit jar and be gay-o
    Son of a gun, we’ll have big fun on the bayou

    A CAJUN FRENCH VERSION:

    “GOODBY JOE” J’AI POUR ALLEZ, MI-O-MA-Y-O
    J’AI POUR ALLEZ MOI TOUT SEUL
    SUR LE BAYOU
    MA YVONNE, LA PLUS JOLIE
    SUR LE BAYOU
    TONNERRE M’ECRASE
    UN VA AVOIR UN BON TEMP
    SUR LE BAYOU
    —-refrain———-
    JAMBALAYA, DES TARTES D’ECREUVISSE, FILE GOMBO
    PAR A SOIR MOI J’VA ALLEZ VOIR
    MA CHERE AMI-O
    JOUER L’GUITAR, BOIRE DE LA JOGUE(cruche)
    ET FAIR DE LA MUSIQUE
    TOMNNERRE M’ECRASE
    UN VA AVOIR UN BON TEMP
    DE SUR LE BAYOU
    THIBODEAUX, FONTENOT, LA PLACE APRE SONNER
    CA VIEN “EN TAS” POUR VOIR YVONNE
    PAR LES DOUZAINES
    FAIR BIEN L’AMOUR, ET FAIR LE FOU, FAIR LA MUSIQUE
    TONNERRE M’ECRASE
    UN VA AVOIR UN BON TEMP

  4. Jamabalaya. I love that song. Ray, I’ve loved cajun music since I was a kid, I just don’t know where to start with getting any of it. Larn me up.

    This band used to play at my school (Remember this was a hippy school) – they’d do songs like Diggy Diggy Lo and Jolie Blon and Jamabalaya; so a lot of my memories are of that music along with dancing topless hippy girls. Them’s some good memories, I tellya.

    Funny thing is, I totall know what a pirogue is, I just had no idea it was pronunced “pee-row” so I’d never have picked it outta that song. That, I got from the folks on Mudcat though DN confirmed it. I’ve seen it a hundred times written, but never heard a cajun say it.

    And yeah, I need to get there. Been to NO a few times but never outta the city to cajun country. I need to go hear live music and I need to eat dinner at Mulate’s.

  5. Well sure. Nothing says Christmas like claymation fellatio. (As long as it’s Gumby and not Pokey because that would be claymation bestiality and that would be WRONG.)

  6. Cajun music is the music of the descendents of the original French Canadians who moved to Acadiana. It tends to be country-sounding music, lots of French lyrics. You should start with anything by Beausoleil, Michael Doucet, or the Savoy-Doucet band. Beausoleil are to Cajun music what the Chieftains are to Celtic music. If you want the really old recordings, look for stuff by Dewey Balfa. For later period stuff with a little rock influence (and I know that sounds bad, but it really isn’t…accordion with heart-breaking guitar solos) check out Steve Riley and the Mamou Playboys.

    Zydeco music is Creole music, and it’s more blues and R&B based, although both cajun and zydeco these days borrow from each other a lot. Zydeco has gotten really really funky in recent years. I’ve heard zydeco hip-hop with accordions in it on the radio once which fucking ROCKED.

    The King of Zydeco, the James Brown of Acadiana, is Clifton Chenier. He’s dead, but his nephew CJ still tours a lot. My other zydeco favorites are Geno Delafose and the late great Beau Jocques.

    Arhoolie Records is a great source of old Cajun and Zydeco classics.

    If you’ve got a place I can put them, I’ll rip you a few choice songs.

  7. DN, you are smart. Fucking smart. And now I too have been sucked into the claymation fellation surreal meme. You can’t read that and NOT get sucked in. Jesus. Except I was just over at panties and reading the miniblog in the sidebar and so have a pool – excuse me, Ray, a pool with a French accent – of fairly thick slurry in my head, and there’s a fair deal of writhing.

    I suppose the composite image now has writhing male and female bodies who may at one time have been wearing japanese school uniforms, although some of them are male and are having their large erect manhoods fondled and sucked on by the writing mud tentacles of a claymation cthulu that forms and dissipates at random seething intervals out of the pool. Suckers composed entirely of mud tease rosy, hardening nipples and enter wetly into pulsing crevices, suckle and pull on the taut straining rods of engorged flash, wrapping themselves around hard muscled thighs and circling taut buttocks and heaving breasts. It’s also crooning “Rien I vous à mille enfers inconnus, sans même un clou de girofle d’ail dans quelles d’elles” to a backbeat while playing a claymation accordion formed from one stray tentacle, which for some reason doesn’t seem as out of place as perhaps it should.

  8. don’t even start with the pie. It’s been over a year and a half and I’m still slavering at the thought of that prawn etouffe that you brought to a certain get together in San Jose. Like the ark of the covenant, rumours of it come out of the ether from time to time from the slightly parted lips of hot girls’ mouths, reminding me yet again of this extremely scrumptious thing that I did not get to taste. It’s torture, dammit.

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