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I attended a Christmas get-together last night and there was a band playing a variety of old songs. They played a Cajun song I have not heard in years and I am not sure when or where I actually first heard it. I was born and raised in the border town of Bunkie, LA which of course is heavily influenced by the Cajun culture of all cities and towns south of it. My parents spoke Cajun French but unfortunately did not teach any of their children the language. But I distinctly remember this song and can sing along with at least the first line of the lyrics.

I did a little research on the song, the title in Cajun French being ” Lâches Pas La Patate” translated to mean “Don’t Drop the Potato”.

The song title and lyrics are not meant to be literal but a Cajun expression that translates to “don’t give up, or hang in there”.

In 1974, legendary Country and Cajun singer Jimmy C. Newman recorded an album for the small label La Louisianne, which included the first song in Cajun French to become a gold record, Lâches Pas La Patate . Largely ignored in most of the United States, the song was a hit in South Louisiana and French Canada, especially Quebec. Oh, a little more bit of trivia, the “C” stands for Cajun not his given middle name which was “Yves”.

The original lyrics are:

Hey! Lâches pas la patate mon neg Hey! Lâches pas la patate
Une chose qu’est claire, j’fais mon affaire Mais j’lâche pas la patate
J’vas au bal tous les samedis, pour escouer mes vieilles pattes
J’danse avec toutes les belles filles… Mais j’lâche pas la patate
J’fais tous les clubs que je peux faire ent’Lafayette et la ville plate
Oublies-moi pas des fois ça chauffe… Mais lâche pas la patate

Chu pas marié, j’ai pas personne pour m’tendre le fond d’culotte
Quand j’veux partir chu “gone vieux j’tons” Mais j’lâche pas la patate
J’vas là tout seul la moitié du temps mais quand l’idée me frappe
J’appelle Marie la chère p’tite fille et j’lâche pas la patate
Hey! Lâches pas la patate mon neg Hey! Lâches pas la patate
Une chose qu’est claire, j’fait mon affaire Mais j’lâche pas la patate

Un soir au bal un tout p’tit bouge et un gros appris à s’battre
J’voulais que le petit gagne et j’criais “Lâche pas la patate”
Le gros bougre m’a r’gardé et dit Espère que j’te rattrape
J’mé viré de bord… J’ai couru fort… J’ai lâché la patate

Hey! Lâches pas la patate mon neg Hey! Lâches pas la patate
Une chose qu’est claire, j’fais mon affaire Mais j’lâche pas la patate
Hey! Lâches pas la patate mon neg Hey! Lâches pas la patate
Une chose qu’est claire, qui fait mon affaire Mais j’lâche pas la patate

Also, there is a 1990 documentary film, titled “Cajun Country: Don’t Drop the Potato”.  Click on this link to learn more about it: http://movies.nytimes.com/movie/2021/Cajun-Country-Don-t-Drop-the-Potato/overview

What a wonderful reminder to “don’t give up” and “hang in there”!

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