Thursday, November 6, 2014

"Waltz of the Mulberry Limb" - Iry Lejeune

After WWII, small independent labels began popping up all over Texas and Louisiana including one created by Robert E Tanner and his wife Dorris.  Bob originally teamed up with Virgil Bozman after his O.T. label dried up and together, they created the very short lived Hot Rod label in San Antonio, Texas.   After that failed, in 1947, Bob and his wife built a record pressing plant in San Antonio, Texas due to the increasing amount of chicano music in the area. By 1953, they created  T.N.T. ("Tanner 'N' Texas").   

Their primary goal was to record and press more Tex-Mex music eventually including rockabilly, country, blues, jazz, and polka.   In 1953, Ed Shuler used the pressing plant to outsource the production his Iry Lejeune recording of "Waltz of the Mulberry Limb" (#105), better known as "La Branche Du Murier" done in Lake Charles.  The song is a staple of Cajun music. 

Gardez donc, chère 'tite fille,

Tous les dimanches après-midi,

Moi, j'sus là dans ma maison,

Après souffert et m'ennuyer.

Passé dans un tas de chagrin,

Misères que, toi, tu jongle,

Par toi-même que moi j'pourrais,

Passer rapport à toi.

Gardez donc quoi t'as fait,

Coupé la branche de mon mûrier,

Pour te voir passer devant,

Devant la porte chez ton papa.

Garde donc, chère 'tite fille,

Comme moi et ces 'tits enfants

Sont après s'ennuyer de toi

Dans un tas de chagrin.

Tu veux pas revenir...

Allegedly, the song was written by much earlier by Dennis McGee, known as "L'Anse de Belair".8  The story goes that a young girl cut a branch off of a mulberry tree so she could see her fiancé's brother ride by. It was this brother whom she really loved.  Author Ron Yule states that Milton Vanicor and Eddie Shuler both recorded with Iry on the tune.   Erwin Lejeune claims that Iry noticed a mulberry tree out the corner of his eye and decided to make a song about it.    
Joseph Gonzalez, Lillie G.,
 Joe Jr., Bob Tanner

So look, dear lil girl 

Every Sunday afternoon, 

I'm here in my house, 

Miserable and bored. 

Went through a lot of grief, 

What miseries, i've been thinking,

Things about yourself that I could,

Get over you.

Look at what you've done, 

I cut the branch of my mulberry,

To see you pass, 

In front of the door with your dad. 

So look, dear lil girl,

Me and the little children,

Are missing you,

They're in alot of grief.

You do not want to come back ...

During the record labels existence, only two Cajun records were produced there; Iry's by Shuler and Aldus Roger by J.D. Miller.   Even at some point in 1951, Bob used the KCOR radio station to record two of Shuler's Harry Choates records for another label called Allied.

The label also produced religious and children's music.  By 1972, Bob ended up having health problems after having a stroke and his wife managed the business for a while until a studio equipment salesman, Tom Albright, purchased the pressing plant around 1973.  He expanded it to handle all the Tex-Mex music being recorded in San Antonio and surrounding areas.  Many of his artists went on to record for major labels. 

One of the outtakes Shuler had kept of that session would later make it onto a 45RPM as "La Branche Du Murier" (#1103), both on the maroon label and yellow label. As far as Iry is concerned, it wouldn't be the only time Iry would record this tune.  Before his death in 1955, he purchased a recorder so he could record his own tunes.  He was apparently so dissatisfied with his dealing with Eddie Shuler that he decided to make his own recordings, hoping to gain control over production. Although several of these discs were made, this is the only to survive.  It contained four recordings: "Gran Mamou", Perrodin Two Step", Mulberry Branch with Agnus Lejeune Jr singing and a tune by Jimmie Rodgers.9

  1. South to Louisiana: The Music of the Cajun Bayous By John Broven
  3. Mojo Hand: The Life and Music of Lightnin' Hopkins By Timothy J. O'Brien
  4. Billboard Magazine, Aug 19, 1972
  5. Billboard Magazine, Aug 25, 1973
  6. Billboard Magazine, Sep 8, 1973
  7. MADE IN LOUISIANA.  VRCD 325.  MARC SAVOY - Accordion. DEWEY BALFA - Fiddle. D. L. MENARD - Guitar.  Liner notes.
  8. Ye Yaille Chere, Traditional Cajun Dance Music by Raymond E. Francois.
  9. "Iry Lejeune: Wailin the Blues Cajun Style" by Ron Yule
Louisiana Cajun Music Volume 4: From The 30s To The 50s (Old Timey, 1972)
The Legendary Iry LeJeune (Goldband, 1991)
Iry Lejeune: Cajun's Greatest: The Definitive Collection (Ace, 2003)

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