Monday, August 25, 2014

"Ma Blonde Est Partie (My Blonde Went Away And Left Me)" - Breaux Brothers

The original "Jole Blon".  This Cajun melody is over 100 years old and originates as 3 different tunes almost all at the same time. 

The first instance is recorded by Amade Breaux, written by his sister Cleoma, entitled "Ma Blonde Est Partie" in 1929 for Columbia (40510-F) and Okeh (90010). It was almost a year after "Lafayette" was recorded.  Joe and Cleoma were invited by Columbia (most likely Okeh's A&R man, Polk C. Brockman) to travel there and record more songs.  This time, they brought along Cleoma's brothers, Amedie and Ophy. 

According to Cleoma's daughter, while Amede Breaux is credited with writing the song, it was his sister Cleoma Breaux who actually wrote the lyrics while Amede sang the song. The family claims Cleoma wrote the tune about Amede's first wife.  Later that year, the Guidry Brothers would lay down their version, calling it "Homme Abandonné" for Vocalion.

However, Dennis McGee claims the melody was much older, written by Angelas Lejeune during WWI.  (The label misspells Breaux as "Breauz" and Cleoma as "Clemo").  According to Wade Fruge', "We'd play 'Jole Blon' and my grandpa learned them from people before him. That makes the song about 200 years old".6 In those days, "Jolie Blonde" was known to musicians as the "Fruge Two Step", "The Courville Waltz" or "The Savoy Waltz".  Cajun music was passed down from father to son.7 
Cleoma Breaux and Joe Falcon

Jolie blonde, regardez donc quoi t'as fait,
Tu m'as quitte pour t'en aller,
Pour T'en aller avec un autre, oui, que moi,
Quel espoir et quel avenir, mais, moi, je vais avoir?
Jolie blonde, tu m'as laisse, moi tout seul,
Pour t'en aller chez ta famille.
Si t'aurais pas ecoute tos les conseils de les autres
tu serait ici-t-avec moi aujourd 'hui
Jolie blonde, tu croyais il y avait just toi,
Il y a pas just toi dans le pays pour moi aimer.
Je peux trouver just une autre jolie blonde,
Bon Dieu sait, moi, j'ai un tas.
Amede Breaux

Separately, Angelas Lejeune would record the same melody and call it "La Fille De La Veuve" in 1929 and both Amadie Ardoin and John Bertrand would record the melody calling it "La Valse de Gueydan" in 1929 for Paramount and Brunswick. It wouldn't be until 1936 when the tune is recorded with the title "Jolie Blonde" by the Hackberry Ramblers and then again by JB Fuselier for Bluebird.

The original cajun version is a brief address to a "pretty blonde" who had left the singer and moved back in with her family, and is also now in the arms of another man. The singer concludes that there are plenty other women, and pretty blonde women out there that he can find. 

Pretty blond, look at what you've done,

You left me to go away,

to go away with another, yes, than me,

What hope and what future am I going to have?

Pretty blond, you've left me all alone

To go back to your family.

If you had not listened to all the advice of the others

You would be here with me today.

Pretty blond, you thought there as just you,

There is not just you in the land to love me.

I can find another pretty blond,

Good God knows, I have a lot.

Yet, the song doesn't become famous until Harry Choates records it in 1946 for Goldstar giving it the title "Jole Blon".  Afterwards, the song ends up getting recorded by many musicians including Bruce Springsteen. Jole Blonde is often referred to as the Cajun national athem due to widespread popularity and due to the historical nature of the song.

  2. Encyclopedia of Great Popular Song Recordings, Volume 2 By Steve Sullivan
  3. Louisiana Women: Their Lives and Times edited by Janet Allured, Judith F. Gentry
  4. Cajun Country By Barry Jean Ancelet, Jay Edwards
  5. Continuum Encyclopedia of Popular Music of the World Volume 8: Genres: North ... edited by John Shepherd, David Horn
  6. Cajun Breakdown : The Emergence of an American-Made Music By Ryan Andre Brasseaux
  7. Poor Hobo: The Tragic Life of Harry Choates, a Cajun Legend by Tim Knight
Louisiana Cajun Music Vol. 5: The Early Years 1928-1938 (Old Timey, 1973)
Cajun Early Recordings (JSP, 2004)
Cajun Dance Party: Fais Do-Do (Legacy/Columbia, 1994)
Cajun Origins (Catfish, 2001)
Jole Blon (Bear, 2002)
The Perfect Roots & Blues Collection (Sony, 2015)
Cajun Capers: Cajun Music 1928-1954 (Proper, 2005)
The Beginner's Guide to Cajun Music (Proper/Primo, 2008)
The Perfect Roots & Blues Collection (Sony, 2015)

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