Tuesday, March 3, 2015

"Calcasieu Waltz" - Iry Lejeune

Iry Lejeune's sound would be copied from a Creole accordion player named Amade Ardoin.  When Iry reintroduced the accordion into Cajun music in the 1950s, he was inspired by many hours spent listening to his Uncle Angelas' old 78s of Ardoin.  In fact, the celebrated return of the accordion into contemporary Cajun music was largely due to Lejeune's versions of Ardoin tunes. 

Hé, gardez donc, moi je connais tu voudrais,
Hé, t'en revnir à la maison pour rejoindre ton nèg.
Hé, catin, moi je voudrais que toi tu reviens, quand-même,
ouias, une fois, mais, oui, une fois avant de mourir.

Oh, jolie, comment moi je vas faire?
Comment toi tu crois j'sus là tout te le temps pour toi?
Hé, 'tite fille, tout le temps après jongler
Autant dans les chagrins pas être capable jamais de t'avoir.

Hé, 'tite fille, pourtant rappelle-toi donc,
Que tu vas toujours écouter un autre que moi.
Hé, c'est pas la peine que moi je te dis quelque chose.
Toi, tu me ressembles pas jamais être contente.

Between 1949 and 1950, Shuler produced Iry's first Folk-Star 78 record, "Calcasieu Waltz" (#100).  It was a version of Ardoin's "La Valse de Amitié" recorded back in 1934 in San Antonio for Bluebird.  Similarly, Lee Sonnier composed his "War Widow Waltz" using the same melody roughly around the same time.  Shuler mentioned:

“I bribed the engineer at the radio station to cut the disc for us.  It was easy; just a fifth of Old Crow.”
"His first recording had a fiddle, a guitar, and a steel guitar. Them were all his wife’s brothers. That was “Lacassine Special” and “Calcasieu Waltz,” that was his first recording (on Folk-Star)."

The recording was done during Iry's second session at KPLC in Lake Charles. It included Milton Vanicor on fiddle, Ellis Vanicor on second fiddle and Ivy Vanicor on guitar.  Calcasieu is an Attakapas word that means "crying eagle" named after an Attakapas Indian chief who gave a peculiar cry like an eagle as he went into battle.   Eventually a parish was named after him; with the song taking the name from the parish.  
Doug Kershaw and Iry Lejeune

Hey, look, I know that you'd like,

Hey, to come back home to join your lover.

Hey, doll, I'd like for you to come back, even if,

yes, one time before dying.

Oh, pretty girl, what am I going to do?

How can you believe I am always there for you?

Hey, little girl, I am always thinking in sorrow about because I'm can't ever have you.

Hey, pretty girl, remember well!

You will always listen to another besides me.

He, there's no use for me to tell you anything.

It seems you can never be happy.

Eventually, Lee Sonnier, along with Laura Broussard on vocals, would record a slower version of the melody and call it "War Widow's Waltz".  

  1. The Kingdom of Zydeco By Michael Tisserand
  2. Iry Lejeune: Wailin The Blues Cajun Style by Ron Yule
  3. http://www.wendyrodrigue.com/2011/04/iry-lejeune-cajun-accordion-player.html
The Legendary Iry LeJune (Goldband/Swallow, 1991)
The Legendary Iry LeJune Vol. 1 (Goldband/Swallow)
The Legendary Iry LeJune Vol. 2 (Goldband/Swallow)
Iry Lejeune: Cajun's Greatest; The Definitive Collection (Ace, 2013)

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