A Mardi Gras Run Song from Mamou, Louisiana

Yesterday, I wrote about the tradition of The Mardi Gras Run in Southern Louisiana, USA. Each town has it’s own version of The Mardi Gras Song or La Chanson de Mardi Gras.

The town of Mamou, Louisiana, has a very different version of La Chanson de Mardi Gras. It’s believed to have its origins in a French song from about 400 years ago. To me, it sounds like an old French drinking song!

Here it is in French and with an English translation…

La chanson de Mardi Gras
(French)

Les Mardi Gras ayoù viens-tu?
Tout à l’entour du fond du verre?

On vient de l’Angleterre, O mon cher,
O mon cher,
On vient de l’Angleterre,
Tout à l’entour du fond du verre.

Les Mardi Gras quoi portes-tu?
Tout à l’entour du fond du verre.

On porte que las bouteille, O mon cher,
O mon cher
On porte que las bouteille,
Tout à l’entour du fond du verre.

Et la bouteille est bue
Tout à l’entour du fond du verre.

Il reste que la demie, O mon cher
O mon cher,
Il reste que la demie,
Tout à l’entour du fond du verre

Et la demie est bue
Tout à l’entour du fond du verre.

Il reste que le plein verre, O mon cher,
O mon cher,
Il reste que le plein verre
Tout à l’entour du fond du verre.

Et le plein verre est bue
Tout à l’entour du fond du verre.

Il reste que le demi verre, O mon cher,
O mon cher,
Il reste que le demi verre
Tout à l’entour du fond du verre.

Et le demi verre est bue
Tout à l’entour du fond du verre,
Et le demi-verre est bue
Tout à l’entour du fond du verre.

Il reste que la rinçure, O mon cher,
O mon cher,
Il reste que la rinçure
Tout à l’entour du fond du verre.

Et la rinçure on la boit pas, O mon cher,
O mon cher,
Et la rinçure on la boit pas,
Tout à l’entour du fond du verre.

Bonjour le maître et maitresse
On vous demande un peu de chose
On vous demande la fille aïnée
On va la faire faire une bonne chose
On va la faire chauffer ses pieds.

The Mardi Gras Song
(English)

Mardi Gras, where do you come from?
All around the bottom of the glass?

We come from England, oh my dear,
Oh my dear,
We come from England,
All around the bottom of the glass!

Mardi Gras, what are you bringing with you?
All around the bottom of the glass.

I’m bringing a weary bottle, oh my dear,
Oh my dear
I’m only bringing a weary bottle
All around the bottom of the glass.

And the bottle is drunk,
All around the bottom of the glass.

Only half is left, oh my dear
Oh my dear,
Only half is left,
All around the bottom of the glass.

And the half is drunk,
All around the bottom of the glass.

Only the full glass is left, oh my dear,
Oh my dear,
Only the full glass is left.
All around the bottom of the glass.

And the full glass is drunk,
All around the bottom of the glass.

There is only half a glass, oh my dear,
Oh my dear,
There is only half a glass,
All around the bottom of the glass.

And the half glass is drunk,
All around the bottom of the glass,
And the half glass is drunk,
All around the bottom of the glass.

There are only the dregs, oh my dear
Oh my dear,
There are only the dregs,
All around the bottom of the glass.

And the dregs, we won’t drink, oh my dear,
Oh my dear,
And the dregs, we won’t drink,
All around the bottom of the glass.

Hello to the master and the mistress,
We ask you for a little something
We ask you for the oldest daughter
We’re going to make her do something nice
We’re going to make her warm up her feet*!
(*By getting her to dance!)

UPDATE: John wrote to me that, “The Mardi Gras run is called the Tee Mamou/Iota Mardi Gras run” – even though the town is called Mamou. Here’s a map showing where Mamou is compared to New Orleans…

Map of where Mamou is in Louisiana

This article was posted on Friday, February 24th, 2006 at 1:01 pm and is filed under Cajun, Countries & Cultures, Folk Songs, French, French Folk Songs, Holiday Songs, Holidays Around the World, La Chanson de Mardi Gras - The Mardi Gras Song, Languages, Mardi Gras, Mardi Gras Songs, USA. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

11 Responses to “A Mardi Gras Run Song from Mamou, Louisiana”

  1. suzanne Says:

    I am searching for a folk song such as this for my treble choir to sing on Feb 20. Melody & music score as well as text. where can I find this? Suzanne

  2. john Says:

    I am from that area and the town is not called Tee Mamou….its just mamou… The Mardi Gras run is called the Tee Mamou/Iota Mardi Gras run…just wanted to let everyone know if they search for a town called Tee Mamou they will not find it. The song also may sound really stupid in english but when its sung in french with the music and seeing the Mardi Gras dance to it, you get a sense how our people used to live. We all came together when we had no money to go to the rich and get what they had to offer in order to make a large gumbo…”for everyone” in order to feast before lent. The costumes were just to ensure no one was able to tell who the other was.

  3. Lisa Says:

    Thanks for the correction John – I’ll fix it in the post.

    It sounds like an interesting festival. I think many of the Mardi Gras traditions are similar – where everyone wears costumes so everyone is equal and anonymous. Everyone can eat, drink and have fun to their hearts content – because lent is coming!

    I’m curious if they go from Mamou to Iota on the run (I assume they do given the name of the run).

    If anyone from Mamou would like to send photos of the festival there – I’d love to add them to this post!

    Best regards,

    Lisa

  4. Lucy Says:

    I imagine that the “Tee” before Mamou/Iota is from “Petite”, but don’t quite me on that I don’t know for sure. Something worth investigating perhaps.

  5. Lucy Says:

    “quote” not “quite”. Sorry!

  6. jeff Says:

    I am from mamou. Just to let everyone know that the Iota run and mamou run
    are 2 different runs. Tee Mamou\Iota does their own thing and Mamou does its
    own thing. The orginal Mardi Gras is the Mamou Mardi Gras. If you never saw the run before, you never seen mardi gras. Its something to witness.

  7. Steve Says:

    Jeff is right, Mamou and Tee-Mamou/Iota are separate runs.

    The Tee-Mamou/Iota Courir de Mardi Gras is one of the last of the old-time traditional runs. They sing a begging/drinking song in French at each stop on their route through the extended community (there is no musical score to this song, it’s sung strictly A Cappella). This is a small run participated in by dedicated local runners who hold to all the old traditions of a run.

    The Mamou run, on the other hand, has become a huge, tourist covered, trail ride of an event with miles of noisy, gaudy trailers full of drunks following along with it. The only thing the two have in common is the mardi gras runners chase chickens.

    But then, in either case, the chicken chasin is what folks come to watch.

    As far as a song goes, there may be some confusion between a runs chanson de mardi gras (each run that has one has it’s own version and I don’t think any are put to music) and the general song known as Le Chanson de Mardi Gras which starts off with:
    “Les Mardi Gras vient de tout partout, tout le tour du moyeu”
    This song IS set to music and it’s very common to hear it in cajun country at mardi gras time. A lot of artists have done versions of it.

  8. Tami Landreneau Says:

    Hi, I was born and raised in Mamou. I have to set the record straight. The Mardi Gras festival came about as a “last day before lent; Catholic time of fasting” , leading up to Easter. Many Catholics in Cajun Country, give up drinking, as their penance , and some give up eating their fav foods , such as Gumbo. The Courrir de Mardi Gras dress up in brightly colored costumes and ride horseback, around the Town to ask the farmers for a donation to make Gumbo when they return to the center of town. The wifes , traditionally make the Gumbo . The Captain of the M.G. tells them to hold back and wait til he gives the signal to stampede onto the farm. The Capt. asks the farmers to donate chicken, sausage, rice or Roux to make the Gumbo. If the farmer says yes, then, the Capt. waves his flag to signal the Courrirs to come on; many times, the farmer gives them a live chicken, but, they have to chase it to get it. As a show of appreciation, the M.G. wagon of singers, accordian players ,harmonica and triangle players perform for the farmer and the M.G. riders dance for the farmer; some dance on the saddle of their horse. Once they have circled the Town, making 30+ stops ,they return to the center of Town and everybody dances and of course, they drink. The song is not about drinking , only about their travels and the charity for the Gumbo. There IS MUSIC for the Mamou Mardi Gras Song; my cousin was the man who sang it and played the triangle. All cities / towns / communities have their own version of Mardi Gras.

    New Orleans has taken advantage of the Festival to make a ton of $ off of it but, has turned it into a 14 day ,Lude, Nasty, Orgy; a perverted version , twisted to suit their desires . Ppl travel from around the Country, and take off their clothes and act like fools , because they think that that is what N.O. Mardi Gras is all about.

    Mamou has some nicknames , like Grande Mamou or Ti Mamou, and yes, Ti Mamou referrs Petite or small . But, we just call our Town, “Mamou, pronounced , Mah-moo” .
    I hope this clears everything up for everyone. Tami

  9. Lisa Says:

    Thanks so much for sharing that Tami! Would you be able to share the tune to the Mardi Gras song and or sing it for us? Thanks again! Mama Lisa

  10. Lisa Says:

    Does anyone know if there’s a song sung while chasing the chicken?

  11. Tami Landreneau Says:

    Hi, I am so sorry that I never saw your question, but, yes, there is a wonderful rendition of the song, and it is sung by my absolute favorite Cajun singer / musician , Steve Riley. Here is a link to the recording , so that you can hear the song . ps He is my 8th grade English Teacher’s son; Mrs. Babs would talk about her ” little Stevie ” all the time, in class. He was also , my little Sister’s classmate. Enjoy ! This is the most authentic rendition of the song.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KjuiemnIIdo

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