New Orleans History -- Lake Pontchartrain
Tuesday, June 25, 2024
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Zydeco is an accordian based combination of traditional sounds with rhythm and blues elements.

There's a vague bell ringing in my head...
...that it has something to do with green beans...that sounds totally off the wall, but is it on the right track at all?

Zydeco got it's name from 'lean' (but not the same kinda lean as mine!) times when they couldn't afford to buy pickle meat or ham or salt pork to season the beans. I don't remember the singer who sang the song about this, but the whole thing came out of haricots verts sounding like zydeco.... (personally I never quite got that, but then I don't ever recall hearing the song either). anyway, the song was about not having the money to buy the seasoning meat for the green beans... said in French sounded like zydeco.

something about the song 'Haricots con vertes'- Green beans with snaps (no salt) led to the whole genre being called zydeco; there must be a mssing element here somewhere.
King Fahd

I think I'll give this to Lakeview Gal.....
she was on the right track and had the earliest answer.

The first known recording containing the word 'Zydeco' was the recording by 'Jimmy Peters and The Ring Dance Singers' in 1934 as part of the historic Alan Lomax recordings. The word 'Zydeco' is actually the words 'Les Haricots'. Phonetically speaking, the 'S' from 'Les' gets rolled over to the beginning of the word 'Haricots' giving a pronounciation of 'Zharicots'. In french, you don't hardly hear the ending 'ts' resulting in Zharico. The emphasis is on the 1st and 3rd parts of the word, hence ZHAR- i -CO. The 'i' in the middle is pronounced like and 'e', not like a long 'I'. When the phonetic 'Zhareco' was translated into the written version it then was easily mispelled as 'zydeco'. Thus, the phrase 'Les Haricots' which is french for ' the snapbeans' is equivalent to the present day spelling of the word 'zydeco'.

The first known recording containing the word 'zydeco' was the song called 'J'ai fait tout Le tour du pays' and was done in a Jure' (bluesy) style of chanting. The phrase 'les haricots sont pas sale' ' is repeated often. This translates into the phrase 'the snapbeans they are not salty'. This is an old phrase that implies that times are so tough that the person could not afford any salt meat to put in their beans. Thus, the meaning that times are rough. This song is on a CD recording on the Rounder label called 'J'ai Été Au Bal, Vol. 2' (I Went to the Dance, Vol. 2) Various Artists CD/CASS 332 (p.s.) The song on this CD is the same exact song, but rounder labeled the song as 'Zydeco Sont Pas Sales' by Jimmy Peters and The Ring Dance Singers. You can listen to this song at