Friday, December 19, 2014

"Lulu's Back In Town" - Cleoma Breaux

Not only were the blues influential on Cajun music, even jazz played a part in early Cajun recording artists.  In 1937, Cleoma Breaux Falcon covers this swingy tune called "Lulu's Back In Town" (#17030) for Decca in Dallas, TX.   Recorded at the Adolphus Hotel, the recording consisted of Cleoma Falcon on vocals and guitar with Moise Morgan on violin.  
Mon j'ai pour avoir mon suit bien r'passé,
Pour côde ain bouton sus mon gilet,
Pace qu'a soir j'ai pour m' bien m' préparer:
Lulu est r'venu dans l' village.

J'ai pour trouver ain ciquante-sou en queque part,
J'ai pour briller mes souiller, bien peigner mes chfeux,
Pace qu'assoir j'ai pour m' bien m' préparer:
Lulu est r'venu dans l' village.

Ti peux dére à tous mes préférées:
Mes blones et mes brunes,
Que monsieur Otis regréttait
Il etait pas à l'entour.

Aw ti peux dére au postillion d' pas vnére;
J'vas pas ête à la maison avant automne; 
J'vas peutête pas m'en r'venere ditout:
Lulu est r'venu dans l'village.

Cleoma was born into a musical family.  Contrary to popular belief, the song was not written for her daughter Loula, however one wonders if the song was recorded with her in mind.  It's a Cajun french cover version of the popular Fats Waller song. Originally written for the 1935 musical Broadway Gondolier, Waller, whose innovation of the Harlem stride style which laid the groundwork for modern jazz piano, recorded the tune for Victor records. Taking a more moderate tempo than Waller, the limiting structure of the song inhibited the full power and range of Cleoma's vocal abilities as she casually swung through the tune backed by Morgan.  It's one of the clear evidences of popular music influencing Cajun musicians in the 1930s. The song would later be popularize again by Mel Tormé in the 1950s.
Adolphus Hotel, Dallas, TX

Gotta get my old tuxedo pressed

Gotta sew a button on my vest

'Cause tonight I've gotta look my best

Lulu's back in town

Gotta get a half a buck somewhere
Gotta shine my shoes and slick my hair
Gotta get myself a boutonniere
Lulu's back in town

You can tell all my favorites
All the blondes and brunettes
Mister Otis regrets
That he won't be aroun'

Tell the mailman not to call
Ain't comin' home until the fall
And then again I might not get home at all
Lulu's back in town
Cléoma had an enormous impact on Cajun music. At the time, women had a significantly smaller presence in Cajun Music. Her vocals and guitar skills fascinated many people. This made her recordings very successful. 

  1. Cajun Breakdown : The Emergence of an American-Made Music: By Ryan Andre Brasseaux
Cajun Music (Goldenlane, 2009)

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