Thursday, June 4, 2015

"Quand Je Suis Bleu (When I Am Blue)" - Leo Soileau

After his attempt at Cajun music in the late 20s, Leo Soileau changed his style to fit the more popular Cajun swing music being influenced by Texas swing players.  Having a mix of people playing with him at different times, he renamed his Three Aces to Four Aces. 

Chère maman, quand je rêve,
Malheureuse, à toi c'est toi.
A l'âge de 15 ans, j'ai roulé,
Manche à manche, malheureuse.
J'connais, père et mère,
Plus personne pour m'aimer,
Plus ma femme pour m'ennuyer.
Toi tu m'as dit,
De t'espérer,
De père et mère, oui j'ai quitté.
Toi malheureuse,
Depuis à l'âge de 15 ans,
J'ai roulé manche à manche,
J'ai roulé ma bouteille.
Leo Soileau

By May of 1935, his drummer, Tony Gonzales, had left.  So, Leo picked up Floyd Perry's uncle, Olaf Perry "O.P." Shreve and Johnny Roberts on drums and bass, and the group headed to Chicago for a marathon recording session with Decca where they recorded "Quand Je Suis Bleu" (#17010). Quite possibly, Leo was inspired by the lyrics of Dennis McGee in his song "Les Blues Du Texas", although his melody is a direct copy of McGee's "La Valse Pènitentiaire". 

 However, it seems the Balfas may have used this melody for their recording of "La Valse Du Bambocheur" around 1951.  In Dewey's earliest days recording alongside Elise Deshotel, you can hear traces of the melody in his recording of "La Valse De Bon Baurche".  Tracy Schwarz mentions this is a very old tune, definately rare in modern day Cajun music. It's rich modal notes take it even one step farther back than many Appalachian mountain melodies that have become known all over the country.  It was this song that got the Balfas their recording contract with Swallow records.
Lake Charles American Press
May 16, 1947

Dear mom, when I dream,
Oh my! It's you.
At age 15, I drove around,
Round and round, oh my!
I know this, father and mother,
There's noone to lover me,
My wife is bored of me.
You told me to wait for you,
Father and mother, I left.
You're miserable,
Since the age of 15,
I travelled round and round,
I travelled with my bottle. 

The band showed up in Chicago two months before New Orleans pianist Richard M Jones was recording his latest jazz tunes with Jones' Chicago Cosmopolitans in the same studio.  By August, Decca had fiddler and Shreveport native Leon "Lonnie" Hall travel to Chicago and do the same thing.   Louisiana music was hot and there was an interest in more of it.

By 1951, Joe Manuel and his boys re-recorded the tune with a string band sound entitled "Since The Age of 14". 

  1. Louisiana Fiddlers By Ron Yule
  2. Smithsonian Folkways. Dewey Balfa.  Liner notes.
  3. Lyrics by Stephane F, Marc C, Jerry M, and Bryan L
Leo Soileau: Louisiana Cajun Music Vol. 7 (Old Timey, 1982)
Various Artists - Cajun String Bands (Arhoolie, 2000)
Cajun Early Recordings (JSP, 2004)
The Best Of Cajun & Zydeco (Not Now, 2010)
The Cajun And Zydeco Collection, Vol. 1 (Rapier, 2014)
The Best Of Cajun And Zydeco (Doppal, 2015)

No comments:

Post a Comment

Got info? Pics? Feel free to submit.