"Sweet Little Sixteen" is a rock and roll song written and originally performed by Chuck Berry, who released it as a single in January 1958. It reached number two on the American charts, Berry's second-highest position ever on that chart
The Beach Boys' 1963 song "Surfin' U.S.A." has the same melody, with new lyrics that focus on the Beach Boys' ongoing theme of surfing. Following litigation by Berry the song is credited to Berry/Wilson
But Chuck Berry himself may have borrowed the chord progression from Clarence Garlow's 1953 song "Route 90".
More versions of "Route 90" / "Sweet Little Sixteen" / "Surfin' U.S.A." on the next 2 links
Clarence Garlow on his turn might have borrowed the chord progression from Leo Soileau's 1935 song "Hackberry Hop". Hackberry is even a place on the old Route 90 !!
"Hackberry Hop" is also known as "Hippy Ti Yo", "Hip Et Taiau", "Les Huppes Taiauts", "T'as Vole Mon Chapeau", "Ils La Volet Mon Trancas".
The song is an old tune about a mysterious creature, women or a couple of dogs ('hip et taiaud' or 'les huppes taiauts') who prowl about stealing things off the farm, engendering the ire of the farmer which makes them return the items.
Read all about " Hippy Ti Yo" here:
NOT TO BE CONFUSED with "Whoopee Ti Yi Yo (Git Along Little Doggies)". But it is thought that such phrases as “Whoopie Ti Yi Yo!” found in the Western classic “Git Along Little Dogies (doggies?)” is derived from the exclamation “Hip et Taïaut” and its variations that were heard in the Cajun prairies.
Listen here to a medley of the 4 songs (in blue) mentioned above:
But the history of the song goes back even further !!!!
On October 9, 1934, one year before Leo Soileau's recording, a version of the song (as "T'as vole mon chapeau") was recorded by Breaux Freres.
But already on August 8, 1934, Joseph Falcon recorded a version of the song (as "Ils La Volet Mon Trancas").
In 1962 Joseph Falcon admitted he had picked up the song from 2 light-skinned black Creoles, more specifically 2 of Oscar Babineaux's sons, one being Sidney Babineaux, the accordion player.
Coincidence or not, in 1962 Sidney Babineaux recorded a version of "Zydeco Sont Pas Sale",
a song very reminiscent of "Ils La Volet Mon Trancas" (or "Hackberry Hop" or "Hip et Taiau")
Listen after 1 min and 41 seconds in the next clip:
Contained on the next CD:
Zydeco - Volume 1: The Early Years 1949-1962 | Smithsonian Folkways Recordings
J'ai Été Au Bal (I Went to the Dance) Vol. 2 | Smithsonian Folkways Recordings
But here are the recordings, beginning with the oldest version I could find:
(o) Joseph Falcon (1934) (as "Ils La Volet Mon Trancas") (=They stole my sled)
Cleoma Breaux Falcon Vocals, Guitar - Joe Falcon Accordion.
Recorded August 8, 1934 San Antonio Texas.
Released on Bluebird Records B-2191.
(c) Breaux Freres (1934) (as "T'as vole mon chapeau") (=You have stolen my hat)
Recorded October 9, 1934 San Antonio, TX –
Breaux Freres (Ophy Breaux [fiddle]; Amadie Breaux [accordion/vcl-1]; Clifford Breaux [gt])
Released on Vocalion 02961
Breaux Frères - T'As Vole Mon Chapeau / Home Sweet Home (Shellac, 10", 78 RPM) | Discogs
(c) Leo Soileau & His Three Aces (1935) (as "Hackberry Hop")
Fiddle, Vocals – Leo Soileau
Guitar – Bill (Dewey) Landry, Floyd Shreve
Drums – Tony Gonzales
Recorded January 18, 1935, New Orleans, Louisiana.
Original issue: Bluebird B-2086.
(c) Clarence Garlow (1953) (as "Route 90")
Released in November 1953 on the Flair-label (#1052)
(c) Chuck Berry (1958) (as "Sweet Little Sixteen")
Recorded December 29–30, 1957 in Chicago, Illinois
Released in January 1958 on Chess 1683
Here's Chuck at the second ever Dick Clark Show on February 22, 1958
(c) Beach Boys (1963) (as "Surfin' U.S.A.")
Recorded January 5, 1963
Released March 4, 1963 on Capitol 4932
Here are the Beach Boys live in 1964
(c) Harry Choates & His Melody Boys 1947 (as "Hackberry Hop")
Recorded February 11, 1947 Lake Charles, LA -
Harry Choates & His Melody Boys (Esmond Pursley [gt], Joseph Manuel [vcl/banjo], Pee Wee Lyons [steel], B.D. Williams [bass], Curzy Roy [drums], Johnnie Manuel [vcl/piano]
Released on Cajun Classics 1007
(c) Luderin Darbone And His Hackberry Ramblers (1947) (as "Hippitiyo")
Lennis Sonnier [vcl/gt], Chink Widcamp [bass], Luderin Darbone [fiddle]
Recorded February 1947 New Orleans, LA –
Released on DeLuxe 5035
(c) Abe Manuel and the Louisiana Hillbillies (1954) (as "Hippy-Ti-Yo")
Released on J.D. Miller's Feature-label (#1098)
(c) Bobby Page And The Riff Raffs (1958) (as "Hippy Ti Yo")
(c) Link Davis (1961) (as "Come Dance With Me")
(c) Doug Kershaw (1973) (as "Hippy Ti Yo")
(c) Jimmy Newman (1973) (as "Hippy Ti Yo")
As I said above, the 1934 Joseph Falcon recording "Ils La Volet Mon Trancas" could have been influenced by a Sidney Babineaux song "Zydeco Sont Pas Salés".
"Zydeco Sont Pas Salés" is probably a corruption of the term "Les Haricots Sont Pas Salés"
The term zydeco, much like the music it describes, is rooted in rural Creole traditions. In Creole folk etymology, zydeco is said to be cognate with the French "les haricots", or “beans”.
In other words, zydeco and its many variants (for example, zodico, zotico, zadeco, zordico, zarico—there is no standard spelling, although zydeco is today the most common) are simply phonetic representations of “les haricots,” or more specifically, of the liaison between the plural article's final consonant and the noun (“'s'haricots”), with the tongue-flapped French r assuming the character of an English d. The term's musical associations are customarily traced to a floating lyric—“les haricots sont pas salés”—literally, “the snap beans aren't salted,” a metaphor for hard times. As one of Nick Spitzer's informants explained, “In the old days somebody would meet you and he'd say, 'Tu vas faire z'haricots? and that would mean are you gonna get your beans in this year or really 'How are you doin'?' So you might say back to him, 'Ouais, Je vas faire z'haricots, mais z'haricots sont pas salé.' That would mean that you were gonna have beans, but no meat. You'd have no meat not even salt-meat, to flavor the beans. You was barely gettin' by. (quoted from David Evans)
Jimmy Peters with "J'ai Fait Tout Le Tour Du Pays" was probably the first one to sing about the "beans that weren't salted", recorded in June 1934 by Alan Lomax in the village of Lake Arthur.
Nick Spitzer in one of his books:
In this traditional love lyric performed as a juré, the group's leader, Jimmy Peters, enumerates various misfortunes—in one verse, for instance, he laments "Toi, comment tu veux je te vas voir, / Mais quand mon chapeau rouge est fini? / Toi, comment tu veux je te vas voir, / Mais quand mon suit est tout déchiré? ("You how can you want me to see you /When my red hat is worn? / You, how can you want me to see you /When my suit is all torn?”)—underscored by the refrain “O mam, mais donnez-moi les haricots. Mais o cherie, les haricots sont pas salés” (“Oh momma, give me some beans. / But oh dear, the beans aren't salted”).
It was on May 11, 1965, almost thirty-one years after Jimmy Peters sang about the snap beans, that Clifton and Cleveland Chenier entered the Gold Star studio in Houston.
Then the pair, backed by drummer Madison Guidry, launched into what would become Chenier's signature piece, "Zydeco Sont Pas Salé".
On it, Chenier strips down his piano accordion and treats it like an old single-key button model, repeating notes of the same chord. Over this mighty rhythm he sings some lines about two mischievous dogs named "Hip and Taïaut" that date back to a 1934 Cajun record by Joseph and Cleoma Falcon, "Ils la volet mon trancas" ("They Stole My Sled"); Joe Falcon once explained that he heard the tune from a Creole accordionist named Babineaux. Chenier couples the old song with the lines about the snap beans:
O Mama! Quoi elle va faire avec le nègre?
Zydeco est pas salé, zydeco est pas salé.
T'as volé mon traineau, t'as volé mon traîneau.
Regarde Hip et Taïaut, regarde Hip et Taïaut.
Oh Mama! What's she going to do with the man?
The snap beans aren't salty, the snap beans aren't salty.
You stole my sled, you stole my sled.
Look at Hip and Taïaut, look at Hip and Taïaut.
In Chenier's "Zydeco Et Pas Salé" — today considered the anthem of zydeco — the lines about the snap beans are reunited with the same beat heard on the Lomax recordings. The result still sounds more like a juré performance than anything ever recorded on the accordion, before or since.
"But Clifton's daddy was an accordion player, and he said that his daddy played one of them juré songs, and they called that `Zydeco est pas salé.' Which means the snap beans don't have no salt in them. So Clifton says, `That "Zydeco est pas salé" song is good, but the way Daddy played that, that's the wrong speed.' He says, `I'm going to take that same song, and I'm going to put a different (slower) speed on it and them people are going to be able to dance that.' And he did, too. And when he started, everybody wanted to play the accordion, everybody wanted to play what Clifton played.". (quoted from: Michael Tisserand)
(c) Clifton Chenier (1965) (as "Zydeco Et Pas Sale")
Recorded at Gold Star Studios, Houston, Texas, on May 11, 1965
Released on Arhoolie Recrds.
Listen here to Clifton's "Zydeco Et Pas Salé"
The album below contains 3 versions of "Zydeco Sont Pas Salés": Jimmy Peters (1934), Sidney Babineaux (1962) and Clifton Chenier (1965)
(c) Zachary Richard (1980) (as "Les Haricots Sont Pas Sales")
Live in Montreal.