Iko Iko

Lyrics: Traditional [James "Sugar Boy" Crawford]
Music: Traditional [James "Sugar Boy" Crawford]

First introduced into the Dead's repertoire in 1977, and played regularly thereafter. There are all sorts of variations on the lyrics, and what's below is only a sample.

These are the lyrics from 2 September 1980 (Dick's Picks Vol 21):

Chorus (note 1)
Hey now (hey now)
Hey now (hey now)
Iko iko un day
Jockomo feeno ah na nay
Jockomo feena nay
[repeated twice]

My grandma see your grandpa
Sitting by the Bayou
My grandma see your granpa
Gonna fix your chicken wire (note 2)

[chorus]

My spy dog see your spy dog
Sitting by the Bayou
My spy dog see your spy dog
Gonna set your tail on fire

[chorus]

My little boy see your little boy (note 3)
Sitting by the Bayou
My little boy see your little boy
Gonna fix your chicken wire

[chorus]

My grandma see your grandma
Sitting by the Bayou
My grandma see your grandma
Gonna fix your chicken wire

[chorus]
Notes
(1) the chorus is fragments of Cajun patois, with more or less phonetic spelling. You will often find "Jockamo" rather than "Jockomo" for example (and Andrew Katzenstein has suggested "Giacomo"). And you sometimes see "feeno ai nan" and "feenan." I don't believe there is a "correct" spelling.
(2) "chicken wire" is what it sounds as if Jerry is singing (though on some other versions it sounds more like "chicko wiyo"). I haven't tracked this line down to any definitive "source" in other versions. Reg Johnsey came up with this explanation:
The way country people celebrated Carnivale/Mardis Gras was to make conical masks out of chicken wire and decorate them, wearing them with costumes festooned with strips of cloth. So, the references to fixing someone's chicken wire sounds like a joking threat to mess up their masks, since part of the battle was how good the costumes were.
(3) in some versions (eg 27 Feb 1990), Jerry sings "My marraine see your marraine" for this line. This is a line that Dr John sings as "My marraine see your parrain." "Marraine" is French for "godmother," though in patois it is often used for "grandmother." "Parrain" is godfather/grandfather. (thanks to Adam Wasserman for the explanation)

For comparison, this is the version from 16 September 1990 (on Dick's Picks Vol 9):
Chorus
Hey now (hey now)
Hey now (hey now)
Iko iko un day
Jockomo feeno ah na nay
Jockomo feena nay
[repeated twice]

My spy dog see your spy dog
Sitting by the Bayou
My spy dog see your spy dog
Gonna set your tail on fire

[chorus]

Indian boy going down town
Iko iko un day
You don't like what the big chief said
Said Jockamo feena nay

[chorus]

My grandma see your grandpa
Sitting by the Bayou
My grandma see your grandpa
Gonna set your flag on fire

[chorus]

My spy boy see your spy boy
Sitting by the Bayou
My spy boy see your spy boy
Gonna fix your chicken wire

[chorus]
On 14 June 1985, Bob Weir sang a couple of verses that are hard to decipher. They seem to be lines from or a reference to another song "Meet The Boys On The Battlefront," recorded by Wild Tchoupitoulas (thanks to David Deephouse for this information):
Meet the boys on the battlefront
The Wild Tchoupitoulas gonna stomp some rump

Meet the boys on the battlefront, sing brother John is gone
Meet the boys on the battlefront, bye bye, cho cho
One additional verse that appears on some lyric collections is below. I haven't yet confirmed whether it definitely sung by the Grateful Dead:
Well look at that girl all dressed in green
She hides a pistol where it can't be seen
Grateful Dead Recordings
     Date Album
     15 May 1977 May 1977 Box Set
      7 Oct 1977 Road Trips Volume 1, Number 2
     16 Sep 1978 Rocking The Cradle: Egypt 1978 (CD and DVD)
      2 Sep 1980 Dick's Picks Vol 21
      7 Oct 1980 Reckoning (note a)
     26 Jul 1987 View From The Vault IV (DVD & CD soundtrack) (note b)
     27 Mar 1988 Download Series Vol 5
      2 Apr 1989 Download Series Vol 9
      7 Jul 1989 Crimson, White and Indigo (DVD & CD)
     18 Mar 1990 Spring 1990 (The Other One)
     30 Mar 1990 Spring 1990
     16 Sep 1990 Dick's Picks Vol 9
     20 Jun 1991 Download Series Vol 11
 
Jerry Garcia Recordings
     Date Album Recorded By
     studio 1977 All Good Things (additional disc) Jerry Garcia Band
 
Other Dead-Related Recordings
     Date Album Recorded By
     12 Nov 2005 For Rex: The Black Tie Dye Ball Zen Tricksters plus friends
     2012 Live At The 2012 Peach Music Festival Dark Star Orchestra

Notes
(a) issued as a bonus track in the box set Beyond Description (1973-1990)
(b) this may be the version issued as a 7" vinyl single for Record Store Day 2013, backed with recordings of the same song by Dr John and the Dixie Chicks - but this is not yet confirmed.


Roots
According to Dr John in the liner notes to his 1972 album "Gumbo":
"The song was written and recorded back in the early 1950s by a New Orleans singer named James Crawford who worked under the name of Sugar Boy & the Cane Cutters. It was recorded in the 1960s by the Dixie Cups for Jerry Leiber & Mike Stoller's Red Bird label, but the format we're following here is Sugar Boy's original. Also in the group were Professor Longhair on piano, Jake Myles, Big Boy Myles, Irv Bannister on guitar, and Eugene 'Bones' Jones on drums. The group was also known as the Chipaka Shaweez. The song was originally called 'Jockamo,' and it has a lot of Creole patois in it. Jockamo means 'jester' in the old myth."
Thanks to Adam Wasserman for the following information:
Iko Iko (as well as other songs such as Big Chief, Hey Pokey-Way, New Suit, Fire Water) has a very specific meaning. They are all New Orleans Mardi Gras songs about the Black Indians. Black Indians are parade crewes (tribes) that parade through the New Orleans streets on Mardi Gras wearing extravagant ceremonial Indian clothes. They face off when they meet and have battles of clothing, dancing, and singing. The Spy Boy is a ceremonial position (the front runner who scouts out other tribes to do battle with) as is the Flag Boy, Wild Man, and Big Chief. Friends and family who follow are in the "second line" and are therefore second liners. So lines like "My spy boy to your spy boy, I'm gonna set your tail on fire" are ceremonial challenges to the other tribe.

"Joc-a-mo-fee-no-ah-nah-nay, Joc-a-mo-fee-nah-nay" is a ritual chant used by the Mardi Gras Indians which has been around for so long the words are no longer clearly distinguishable, and it has a well understood meaning of its own. Very, very loosely translated it signifies "we mean business" or "don't mess with us". Originally it would have been Cajun (a liberal mix of French and English) and literally translates to "the fool we will not play today".
One additional comment on the origins/meaning of "Iko":
"Iko and un day are Creole corruptions of the Gambian call ago! [pay attention] and the expected response, which is amay! [I/we are listening]. Chuck Davis of the African- American Dance Ensemble, which is based here in Durham, uses this device ubiquitously when he acts as Griot (master storyteller/master of ceremonies). When he calls "ago!" everyone is supposed to shout "amay!"--no matter what else is going on. He likes to slip this into the middle of various narrations just to make sure folks are paying attention. He also uses it as an introductory, "calm down" sort of exercise before he starts to speak, or to quiet the crowd if it gets noisy while he's speaking."
These are the lyrics from Sugar Boy Crawford's version (thanks to Anita Cantor for help with the transcription):
Iko, iko
Iko iko an de
Jockomo, fee-lo an da'n de
Jockomo fe na'n n'ae

My spy boy met your spy boy
Sittin' by the fiyo
My spy boy a-told your spy boy
I'm gonna set your flag on fiyo

Chorus
Talkin' 'bout
Hey now, hey now
Iko iko an de
Jockomo fee-lo an da'n de
Jockomo fe n'an n'ae

Look at my queen all dressed in red
Iko iko an de
I bet you five dollars she'll kill you dead
Jockomo fe n'an n'ae

[chorus]

[chorus]

Iko, iko
Iko iko an de
I'm having my fun on the Mardi Gras day
Jockomo fe n'an n'ae

[chorus]
[chorus]
The Dixie Cups' version is fairly similar:
My grandma and your grandma
Were sitting by the fire
My granma told your grandma
I'm gonna set your flag on fire

Chorus
Talking 'bout
Hey now (hey now)
Hey now (hey now)
Iko iko on day
Jockomo feeno ah na nay
Jockomo feena nay

Look at my king all dressed in red
Iko iko on day
I'll bet you five dollars he'll kill you dead
Jockamo feena nay

[chorus]

My flag boy and your flag boy
Sitting by the fire
My flag boy told your flag boy
I'm gonna set your flag on fire

[chorus]

See that guy all dressed in green
Iko iko on day
He's not a man, he's a loving machine
Jockamo feena nay

[chorus]
[chorus]
Jockamo feena nay
Jockamo feena nay
There are all sorts of other versions and verses - this is one of the longer ones I found on a non-Dead lyric site:
My spy boy to your spy boy, they were sittin' along the bayou
My spy boy to your spy boy, I'm gonna set your tail on fire

My grandma see your grandpa sitting by the fire
My grandpa say to your grandma, gonna fix your chicken wire

Indian boy gotta go downtown, Iko Iko all day
If he don't like what the big chief say, Joc-a-mo-fee-nah-nay

We goin' down to Bedford town, Iko Iko ah- nay
Sure get rowdy when the sun go down, Joc-a-mo-fee-nah-nay

See Marie down the railroad track, Iko Iko Ah-nay
Said put it here in the chicken sack, Joc-a-mo-fee-nah-nay

My spot dog see your spot dog, sitting by the fire
My spot dog told your spot dog, "gonna set your ass on fire"

My Marie see your Marie, sitting by the fire
My Marie say to your Marie, gonna fix your chicken wire

See that girl all dressed in green, Iko Iko all day
See that girl, she's a lovin' machine, Joc-a-mo-fee-nah-nay

My little boy to your little girl, Get your head on my-o
My little girl to your little boy, Gonna fix your chicken wire

We goin' down to see my shack, Iko Iko ah-nay
Shoulder to shoulder and back to back, Joc-a-mo-fee-nah-nay

As a little bitty boy I did not care, Iko Iko ah-nay
I had to leave New Orleans to go somewhere, Joc-a-mo-fee-nah-nay

Goin' down to see my granny, Iko Iko ah-nay
Sure get rowdy eatin' grits and gravy, Joc-a-mo-fee-nah-nay

My flag boy to your flag boy, Sittin on' the bayou
My flag boy to your flag boy, Gonna set your flag on fire

See me gal all dressed in red, Iko Iko ah-nay
Bet you five dollars she'll shoot you dead, Joc-a-mo-fee-nah-nay