It’s hard to say what stands out more in his music, his singing or playing. The former is his real audio signature, a pleading tone, almost the edge of a cry that emerges from the accordion-fiddle flurry and grips the ears right from the the waltz "Madame Atchen" (#40515). Torn between anguish, threat, plea and regret he queries his “chere ‘tite femme” in Creole French: “I’m going away, oh little woman / But what did you do with your little heart?” Confused, desperate, ultimately defeated—it’s heartbreaking whether you understand the words or not.2 Recorded at the end of 1929 for Columbia records in New Orleans, the origins of Mrs. Atchen are lost to time. The song would later become "Ta Robe Barre" by Bois Sec Ardoin and the Carriere Brothers
Malheureuse, quoi t'a fait. Ouis, avec moi?
Ca me fais du mal chaque fois je tu regarde, ouais malheureuse.
Quoi t'as fait? Chere Jouline, ca me fait du mal,Quoi faire t'as fait mais tout ca, t'as fait si long (temps) avec moi?Je vas m'en aller, je vas m'en aller, a la maison,Je vas me'en aller, ouais, a la maison, sans tu Jouline.Malheureuse, quoi t'as fait a ton petite coeur,Moi j'ai pas pu juger ton histore rapport a tu,Ta bonne histoire est aussi bonne que tesparoles,Ca tu m'as dit, ma belle Jouline, ca m'a fait du mal,Je suis pas sur d'etre capable de m'en aller,Mon coeur fait mat juste assez, chere pour moi pleurer.
"Madame Atchen" was covered by Leo Soileau as "Embrace Moi Encore" Milton Vanicor recalled playing with Amede Ardoin in his earlier years. On certain occasions, they would host a dance. In fact, Milton points out they had built a big living room in the house, in part, so they could host dances. Probably the first consideration would be to get the right musicians for the dance. Only the best accordion player would be right for the job. In the Vanicor's case, that musicians was Amede Ardoin. According to Milton's interview with Ron Yule, Amede always brought a big crowd. Amede's presence would mean a successful dance. Other accordionists played at the Vanicors off and on, but Amede was the favorite.1
Oh my, why did you do this, yes, with me?
It makes me feel bad every time I look at you, yeah, oh my,
What did you do, dear Jouline? It makes me sad,What you've done, well, all of that, you've done for a longtime with me,I am going to go, I'm going to go, to my house,I am going to go, yeah, to my home, without you Joline.Oh my, what you did to your little sweetheart,I have not been able to judge based on your information,Your good story is as good as your words,That you told me, my beautiful Jouline, it hurt me,I'm not sure I'll be able to go,My heart hearts just enough, dear, to make me cry.
- When The Fiddle Was King by Ron Yule
- Hidden in the Mix: The African American Presence in Country Music edited by Diane Pecknold
W111386 -2 Madam Atchen | Columbia 40515-F | Okeh 40515
W111387 -1 Two Step De La Prairie Soileau | Columbia 40515-F | Okeh 40515
Cajun Dance Party: Fais Do-Do (Legacy/Columbia, 1994)
Cajun Origins (Catfish, 2001)
Cajun Country, Vol. 2, More Hits from the Swamp (JSP, 2005)
J'ai Ete Au Bal - Vol. 1 (I Went To The Dance) (Arhoolie, 2011)