Today we look to the South and the mysterious city of New Orleans, Louisiana for Top 100 Songs of Summer Countdown. Originally titled “Jock-A-Mo,” the song best known as “Iko Iko,” as recorded by the Dixie Cups in 1965, was even older than that. Its Caribbean feel and sing-along chorus makes this one a must in summertime.
If you have that perfect summer tune, make sure to leave your suggestions below as we head toward the Top 10.
Hamptons 100 Songs of Summer #20
“Iko Iko (Jock-A-Mo)“ By the Dixie Cups
The first iteration of “Iko Iko,” called “Jock-A-Mo,” was written by James “Sugar Boy” Crawford in New Orleans back in 1953. It was about two Indian tribes and features words chanted by Mardi Gras Indians, though he had no idea what they meant. Eventually the Dixie Cups played an impromptu version of it, singing acapella with only drumsticks on ashtrays, during a recording session—but didn’t know they were being recorded. The song became a hit after its release in 1965, and it has since been covered by dozens of major musicians.
Like a good folktale, “Iko Iko” has changed and evolved over the years, with lyrics actually changing to suit listeners’ misinterpretation of them. For example, the lyrics “sittin’ by the fire” started out as “sittin’ by the bayou” in a heavy New Orleans accent. Sometimes change is good—sometimes it’s not—but this song has always been a magical chant of summer.