Monday, March 24, 2014

Danny Barker - My Indian Red (Mardi Gras Indian song example, comments, lyrics)

Edited by Azizi Powell

This pancocojams post showcase a 1946-1947 example of the classic Mardi Gras Indian song "My Indian Red" (also known as "Indian Red"). This post also includes information and comments about that song, one bonus example of song lyrics, and one bonus video example of this song.

The content of this post is presented for folkloric, cultural, and aesthetic purposes.

All copyrights remain with their owners.

Thanks to Danny Barker for his musical legacy. Thanks to all the composers & performers of this song, and thanks to Mardi Gras Indians for their cultural legacy. Thanks also to the publishers of these examples on YouTube and thanks to all those who are quoted in this post.

"Indian Red" can be considered a folk song as there are no known composer for the song. The song praises Mardi Gras Indians and declares that the Indians won't bow down (to any adversaries or in the face of any adverse situations).

The tune, the trempo, and some of the lyrics for this song are relatively fixed. However, other lyrics can be sung for this song as long as those lyrics fit the song's general themes and spirit.

Here's information about the song "Indian Red" from
"Indian Red is traditionally sung at the beginning and at the end of gatherings of Mardi Gras Indians in New Orleans. It is a traditional chant that may have been first recorded by Sugar Boy Crawford in the 1950s. It has since been recorded many times by, among others, Dr. John and Wild Tchoupitoulas."...
Click that link for a 1980s example of the lyrics for this song.

Also, note that the "My Indian Red" song that is showcased in this post predates the 1950s Sugar Boy Crawford song that is referenced in the Wikipedia article.


erikmek Uploaded on Jan 25, 2011

Danny Barker - My Indian Red from Baby dodds trio - Jazz A´la Creole [album name] 1946-1947

Danny Barker on guitar & vocals, Don Kirkpatrick on piano, Heywood Henry on baritone saxophone, and Freddie Moore.
Here are several comments from this sound file's viewer comment thread:
Louis Maistros, 2012
"the first ever recording of this mardi gras classic."

chadwick crawford, 2012
"The record is Jazz a la Creole, credited to the Baby Dodds trio, although this is Barker and some other dudes. It's still in print."

dthesq, 2012 [In response to the question "Why is it difficult to find the lyrics to Mardi Gras Indian songs on the Internet?]
"Lotsa them are around on the net. It's hard to find exactly what you're looking for cuz everybody sang them differently over the years."

(Danny Barker)

Here comes the Big Chief,
the Big Chief the Yellow Pocahontas,
the pretty Monogram Hunters
and we don't bow down on nobody's ground.
Oh, how we love to hear you call us Indian red.
The Wild Tchoupitoulas, White Eagles,
the pretty 8th Ward Hunters,
the Wild West Shoshoni Hunters
and we don't bow down on nobody's ground.
Oh, how we love to hear you call us Indian red.

Here comes the Spy Boy, the Flag Boy,
but watch that crazy Wild Man,
the wildest in the lowland
and you'll love our Queen,
Queen of New Orleans.
Oh, how we love to hear you call us Indian red.

Source: joshbusby47 in 2013, viewer comments [reformatted for this post]

(Mrs. Augustine Moore, 1980)

Madi cu defio, en dans dey, end dans day[1]
Madi cu defio, en dans dey, end dans day

We are the Indians, Indians, Indians of the nation
The wild, wild creation
We won't bow down
Down on the ground
Oh how I love to hear him call Indian Red

I've got a Big Chief,
Big Chief, Big Chief of the Nation
The wild, wild creation
He won't bow down
Down on the ground
Oh how I love to hear him call Indian Red

Note (1)
[Madi cu defio, en dans dey, end dans day] (is) "A corruption of a phrase from an old Creole song, "M'alle couri dans deser" (Wilson, Traditional Louisiana French Folk Music, 59; Mrs. Augustine Moore, interview by author, 1980. As cited in "The Use of Louisiana Creole in Southern Literature" by Sybil Rein, Creole: The History and Legacy of Louisiana's Free People of Color ed. Sybil Rein. Louisiana State University Press: 2000. ISBN 0-8071-2532-6 pg 124). "M'alle couri dans deser" is said to mean "I am going into the wilderness" ("Creole Slave Songs." The Century Magazine. Vol XXXI, No 6. April 1886. pg 820)."
The lyrics "Madi cu defio, en dans dey, end dans day" are given in the as "Mighty cooty fiyo - hey la hey, hey la hey" in the version of "Indian Red" that is sung by Daniel Lanois:

The word "fiyo" is usually interpreted as "fire" in Mardi Gras Indian songs.

BONUS VIDEO: Mardi Gras Indians Singing Indian Red during the annual St. Joseph Night Celebration

onenawlins, Published on May 16, 2013 For more history on this wonderful and unique culture please visit and support my website. Merchandise and apparel coming 6-2013!!!

MardiGras Indians Singing Indian Red during the annual St. Joseph Night Celebration on Tuesday March 19, 2013. The Mardi Gras Indians named themselves after native Indians to pay them respect for their assistance in escaping the tyranny of slavery. It was often local Indians who accepted slaves into their society when they made a break for freedom around early to mid 1800s. They have never forgotten this support. The chants that you hear are usually stories of the struggles in the neighborhood, violence, poverty, celebration of life or death etc,,. These chants and calls are passed down from generation to generation.

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