Crescent City Lyrics and Southern Lousiana Style

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Crescent City Lyrics and Southern Lousiana Style

Postby lucfan4ever » Sun Jul 08, 2007 7:35 am

Crescent City is one of my favorites, being a total Lucinda fan with an obsessive interest in zydeco and cajun dancing. I am hoping someone can help out with the meaning of "Tu le ton son temps" ?

Does anyone know of any collaborations or recordings with Lucinda and zydeco or cajun musicians? Maybe some songs which haven't made it onto cd's that fit this description?
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Postby All I Ask » Sun Jul 08, 2007 11:26 am

I looked up "Tu le ton son temps" on a free web translator and it came out "You it your his time". So I went to and looked up Cresent City and it gives that line as "Tous les temps sont temps" which translates as "All times are time". I'm sure that it is not the spirit of the actual french phrase. It could mean something like "no time like the present" but that is a guess. Hopefully one of our esteemed co-members will know the proper translation.

By the way I just wondered if you knew that "laissez les bons temps rouler" means "let the good times roll" ?

Cresent Ciy is one of my very favorite Lucinda tunes. I do not know of any collaborations of the type you're asking for but like you I look forward to the replies of other forum members.
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Postby lucfan4ever » Sat Jul 14, 2007 7:13 am

Thanks for the assistance! I haven't had much luck with the translators. I took the text from the cd booklet. I like to interpret it as "It's time for good music."

I do know Let the good times roll, and of course, et toi!

One of the fun things about cajun music and dancing is guessing the intent of the lyrics from the sound of the melody (generally restricted to joyous, mellow or blue).

Next chance I get I'll ask one of the cajun musicians and respond back.
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Postby marclaff » Sun Sep 02, 2007 3:28 am

Actually she says "Tout est en son temps" which means
everything in time and/or
everything falls into place and/or
let's time to the time.
The general idea is "everything will happen in time, don't worry and be patient".

Later she says "et laissez le bon temps rouler" which means "let's the good times roll"
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Postby rachel8375 » Sun Sep 02, 2007 11:07 am

Except in the lyric book with the CD, its written "Tu les son temps" which is where the problem lies. I'd always figured it as some sort of idiomatic expression like Spanish or English has, something like "These are our times." or along those lines. I do not read or speak French, though, and have no idea of the idioms, especially of Cajun French, which is where I was guessing this is from.
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Postby Ray » Sun Sep 02, 2007 6:44 pm

Rachel, you're right about the lyrics from the CD sleeve, and no doubt it is some idiomatic cajun-ization --not-so-literal French mixed up in that south Louisiana gumbo. (The printed lyrics could also be sloppy writing/interpretation on the part of the folks who did the sleeve for that early CD! ) But I really have to say i like marclaf's French translation. It fits. Feels right for both the song and the city. Hope Lucfan4ever can get the definitive word from her cajun contacts.... Who knows, maybe Lucinda took some artistic liberties?! Anyway, a great song that has stood the test of time (and Katrina). :)
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Postby rachel8375 » Mon Sep 03, 2007 6:07 am

I agree with you about Marclaf's interpretation. It does fit, especially in the time period I think she would have been singing about, in that part of the song about she and her sister and brother dancing down by the river, which would have been probably her late teens or so, when you want to be grown up RIGHT NOW, on your own, doing your absolutely does fit, and works better than mine, but I was going by the lyric book. :D I also agree that the song has stood the test of time, although I have to say, it does make me more than a little sad since Katrina.
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Re: Crescent City Lyrics and Southern Lousiana Style

Postby fretless » Wed Dec 31, 2008 4:43 pm

The translation is "Every now and then." I believe it is an idiomatic phrase in Cajun, not sure if French people would know it or not.
And it is the title of a very popular Cajun tune...which is how I think Lucinda means to use it in her lyrics.

The trouble is that people are spelling it 2 different ways.
Lucinda's lyrics say "Tu le ton son temps."
But if you search the web for "Tu le ton son ton" (last word is different) you will get dozens of hits for the Cajun tune.

So what does it mean in "Crescent City" when Lucinda writes:
"Tu le ton son temps, that's what we'd say. We used to dance the night away."

I interpret it to mean that they are all hanging out at the local bar, dancing and calling out for one of their favorite Cajun tunes.
"Hey! We wanna hear 'Tu le ton son ton!' "

Hope this helps settel this question.
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Re: Crescent City Lyrics and Southern Lousiana Style

Postby aprilgood » Sun Sep 18, 2011 6:14 pm

tu le ton son ton is a cajun phrase that means" Every now and then". That is a song by Clifton Cheniere.
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Re: Crescent City Lyrics and Southern Lousiana Style

Postby Slidell » Tue Sep 27, 2011 5:59 am

I think we're a little late on this topic, but I think Wikipedia has the right translation, which has already been mentioned in previous posts.

Here's what Wiki says:

"Crescent City" is the ninth track on the Lucinda Williams album Lucinda Williams. It was written by Lucinda Williams.

"The Cajun-influenced song is a homage to New Orleans, the "Crescent City." It contains numerous regional references including the city Mandeville, Louisiana, Lake Pontchartrain, and Zydeco music. The song also contains two Cajun French phrases. The first "Tu le ton son temps" (perhaps "Tout est en son temps") may be translated loosely as "everything in time."[1] The second is "Laissez les bons temps rouler" or "let the good times roll." The original recording possesses a pronounced Zydeco flavor with Accordion and fiddle instrumentation."

Great song!
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Re: Crescent City Lyrics and Southern Lousiana Style

Postby IronJohnSr » Sun Jan 13, 2013 7:24 pm

The expression is "tous les temps en temps", which translated means literally "every time to time", or idiomatically "every once in a while".
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Re: Crescent City Lyrics and Southern Lousiana Style

Postby Tamlin » Sat Jan 19, 2013 6:06 am

A Louisiana French dictionary translates it as "from time to time."
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Re: Crescent City Lyrics and Southern Louisiana Style

Postby redpaul1 » Sat May 11, 2013 3:31 am

IronJohnSr wrote:The expression is "tous les temps en temps", which translated means literally "every time to time", or idiomatically "every once in a while".

Sorry I'm so late to this party. Funnily enough, the Wikipedia entry quoted by Slidell references the discussion on this very page for its view that "Tu le ton son temps" means "Tous est en son temps" - but IronJohnSr and fretless have it right.

You get to "Tous les temps en temps" from "Tu le ton son temps" in a two-step process (see what I did there?). The first is to apply the "rules of liaison" that govern French pronunciation, and then produce a phonetic transliteration of the French pronunciation for English speakers.

Rules of liaison? A final 's' is never pronounced in French except when the following word begins with a vowel. In those circumstances, the final 's' is pronounced, but as part of the following word: it forms a liaison with the following word. So the pronunciation of "Tous les temps en temps" - in French - is "Tous les temp s'en temps": the only 's' that's pronounced in the whole expression is that 3rd one; because it immediately precedes the 'e' of "en".

So, transliterating "Tous les temp s'en temps" phonetically for English-speakers gives you "Tu le ton son temps"; or as it's rendered (perhaps more consistently) elsewhere: "Tu le ton son ton".

The trouble is that the words used to produce these Anglo-phonetic representations of "Tous les temp s'en temps" can also all be found in French dictionaries, and that's where the confusion starts to arise: "Tu le ton son temps" and "Tu le ton son ton" make no sense in French - "You the tone his time...?? You the tone his tone...??" In this context however, they're not French words: they're made-up English ones. They only make sense (in French) if spoken aloud - by an English-speaker!

Éspèrant que ça vous aide!!

Laissez les bons temps rouler! 8)
Last edited by redpaul1 on Sun May 12, 2013 11:08 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: Crescent City Lyrics and Southern Lousiana Style

Postby LWjetta » Sat May 11, 2013 6:09 am

Bienvenue sur le forum amical de Lucinda redpaul 1.

Just curious, have you been a Lucinda fan for awhile ?
She is embarking on a major Euro tour shortly and has several dates in the UK where you and your band "The pUkes" reside,check her out.

I checked out your website link and loved the video "Because You're Young"-a very happy tune to wake up to on a Saturday morning with almost 20 ukuleles going full tilt.

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Re: Crescent City Lyrics and Southern Lousiana Style

Postby Aracari girl » Sat May 11, 2013 8:00 am

Thanks for the pUkes info, Lwj. Enjoyed the videos. I am a Florida uke-aholic and have actually been noodling with some Lu stuff on my ukes.
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