It’s Debunking Monday here at this blog; see my last post Dr John not Cajun artist. Here’s another mistake that’s been repeated so many times that everyone seems to believe it: the phrase “desitively bonnaroo” is not Cajun French. It is the title of an album Dr. John recorded in 1974. Many sources, including newspapers, which should know better, have given the phrase as a Cajun French term for “everything’s fine.” That is the meaning of the phrase, but it does not come from Cajun French. It’s just one of Dr. John’s many delightful coinages, like the song title, Mos’ Scocious, which also means “everything’s fine.”
It’s also the source of the name of the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival. This festival of alternative and jam music is held in June in rural Tennessee.
If you consult the excellent Dictionary of Louisiana French (Jackson : University Press of Mississippi, 2010), you will find neither of the words ‘desitively’ (also spelled ‘desatively’) nor ‘bonnaroo.’ The French word ‘bon’ does mean ‘good,’ so perhaps that’s part of where the word came from. Nor are these words or this phrase known to any of the fluent Cajun French speakers that I have asked. So go and err no more–at least on this fact.