Wednesday, April 13, 2016

"Pestauche Ah Tante Nana (The Peanut Song)" - Sidney Brown

Inspired by the response to Iry Lejeune's records, Eddie Shuler became more involved in recording Cajun music in the 50s.  Before Sidney Brown began making accordions, he had a successful career recording music.  With his Traveler Playboys, in 1953, they would record the "Peanut Song", also known as "Pestauche Ah Tante Nana" (#1061) for Goldband.
S’en aller chez Nonc’ 'Tave,
Ça plante la belle récolte,
Du coton et du maïs,
Et la pistache à Tante Nana.

C’est ça qu’est si bon,
Grillé à dans l’bas du "stove",
Le temps mouillasseux,
La pistache à Tante Nana.

Ils est belle et si mignonne,
Tu dis on l'aime autant, 
Ses ça j'ai t'en aller, 
Et la pistache à Tante Nana.

S’en aller chez Nonc’ Charles,
Ça plante la belle récolte
Du coton et du maïs,
Et la pistache à Tante Nana.
This is an old song about a happy farmer whos peanuts produced three nuts instead of the usual two.  Since the peanut was an American plant, the new French colonists could only compare it to a pistachio or pistache. Later, the new name cachouette was added to the French vocabulary, but here in Louisiana the peanut is still called pistache by the Cajuns.6

Originally titled "La Pistache à Trois Nana" or possibly "La pistache à quatre nanan", it was apparently a much older tune.  Brown changed it to Tante Nana, making it difficult to fully appreciate the lyrics.   It's quite possible what is "beautiful and small" is actually referring to her.  According to musician and accordion builder, Bryan L:
[There's] lot's of odd references (along with sexual innuendos) in these old songs, I imagine a lot of it was personal inside jokes. Many say the song was supposed to be "le pistache a trois nana", which is a 3 nut peanut (pistachio), supposedly referencing a quality peanut. A sly word twist refers to poor Aunt Nana.
Sidney Brown
According to musician Jesse Lege:
The original & ancient version where this song comes from was "La Pistache à Quatre Nanan".... "nanan" being a word for the nut actually.5

One may ask "What innuendo?"  Asking around, one may get different answers. According to Cajun French speakers around Louisiana, the term has an even crasser meaning:
Pistache a Tante Nana is actually derogatory for a woman's private part. That would get you slapped in the old days.
We used to sing [Pistache] as kids to be bad. That and the other perversions of the song "Colinda", which I will not post in mixed company.
Still, others had a different interpretation:
Pistache is not just used for peanut or the vulgar sense of the word. It was also used as a term of endearment. Still is actually. It opens the door to "innuendo".
I don't think [Sidney] meant it that way but that is how some Cajun's took it.  All you need to know is that the aunt had the sweetest peanut. You know how men are. We make anything sound like what we want it to be.
Even one of Sidney's godchildren recalls the song:
The change of wording was no accident; it was Sidney's sense of humor.4 
She said it always embarrassed her, but she had a copy of the record!
Going home to Uncle Octave's,
Planting the beautiful harvest,
Of the cotton and corn,
And the peanuts of Aunt Nana.

That's what's so so good,
Grilled at the bottom of the stove.
The weather is drizzly,
The peanuts of Aunt Nana.

They are beautiful and small,
You say we love them so much,
That's why I'm going,
And the peanuts of Aunt Nana.

Going home to uncle Charles,
Planting the beautiful harvest,
Of the cotton and corn,
And the peanuts of Aunt Nana.
Either way, it didn't change the song's popularity.  Eddie Shuler released the tune fairly late in 1957.   With possibly Louis "Vinesse" Lejeune on vocals, possibly Wilus Ogeat on guitar, Nelson Young on fiddle, and Cliff Newman on drums, it became the 3rd best selling Goldband album.2 Regarding Sidney's recording, Shuler stated:

Apart from the late Iry Lejeune, who was about the biggest-selling artist in the field, I had some other popular songs, especially 'Lemonade Song' by Leroy Broussard, and 'Sha Ba Ba' and 'Pestauche Ah Tante Nana' by Sidney Brown.

  1. South to Louisiana: The Music of the Cajun Bayous By John Broven
  2. Cajun Dance Tunes, Dance Album Vol. 1, LP GCL-109.  Liner notes.
  3. Lyrics by Marc C, Stephane F, Dunn J, and Rodolphe O.
  4. Discussions with Jean M
  5. Discussions with Jesse L
  6. Ye Yaille Chere by Raymond Francois


Sidney Brown & Shorty LeBlanc ‎– The Best Of Two Cajun Greats (Swallow, 1987)
Cajun Dance Tunes Vol.2 (Goldband, 1989)
Sidney Brown Collector's Item (Goldband)

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