Thursday, June 11, 2015

"T'Est Petite a Ete T'Est Meon (You Are Little and You Are Cute)" - Dudley And James Fawvor

Dudley Eraste Fawvor, guitarist, and James Henry Fawvor, Jr., fiddler, were two musicians from Cameron, LA who joined other Cajuns recording music for Columbia/Okeh.  In 1928, Dudley and James Fawvor recorded two proto-swing Cajun numbers, one entitled "T'est Petite A Ete T'est Meon (You Are Little and You Are Cute)" (#90005), in French to accommodate their audience even though they did not speak the language.  Although their French was admittedly limited, the duo negotiated a record deal with a Columbia executive while acting as guides during a duck hunting expedition near their home in Grand Chenier, a coastal hamlet just across the Texas line.  The songs would be apart of Columbia's new interest in field recordings of the Cajuns.  

T’es petite, t’es meon,

Trop jalousie mais j’t’amie quand meme,

T’es petite, t’es meon,

Trop galeuse pour faire ma femme.

Oh la belle, t’es pas lavé,

Oh, la belle, tu peux aller t’laver,

Oh, la belle t’es pas lave,

I’ faudra oublier la belle, tu peux aller t’ laver.
The song is based on melody that folklorist Irene Whitfield recalled in 1939 as "La Valse de la Grand Chenier".  The word "galeuse" is an Cajun word to signify looking dirty or shabby. Given the strong similarities between Cajun swing and Western swing, it would be difficult to believe that the Fawvors' choice involved stylistic motivations at all. This contrasts with today's Cajun music when sung in French in that it would be difficult to argue that this choice involves accommodating an audience of mostly English monolinguals—although it is possible that musicians are targeting a select group from within the audience.
Dudley Fawvor

You're small and you're a sweetheart,

You're too jealous, but, I like you anyways,

You're small and you're a sweetheart,

You're too shabby to be my wife.

Oh, girl, you're not clean,

Oh, girl, you can go wash up,

Oh, girl, you're not clean,

I have to forget her, girl go wash up.

James Fawvor
Later, other musicians would put their own take on the song.  The following year, Eddie Segura and Didier Hebert used the title in their melody called "You're Small And Sweet".  In 1935, Leo Soileau traveled to Chicago with his Four Aces and recorded "T’Est Petite Et T’Est Mignonne [You Are Little And You Are Cute]".   Harry Choates recorded "Tip-E-Te Tip-E-Ta Ameon (You’re Cute And You’re Little) (T’Est Petite Et Mignone)" in 1947 and again in 1948 as "Te Petite".   During the 50s, Crawford Vincent recorded "Tippy Tee Tippy En".  In 1954, Link Davis, good friends with Choates, would also record "You're Little But You're Cute" for Okeh records.

  1. Cajun Breakdown : The Emergence of an American-Made Music: By Ryan Andre Brasseaux
  2. The Use Of Language In Cajun Music. By Josh Mcneill. Tulane University.  2014.
  3. Lyrics by Jerry M.
  4. Label scan by University of Louisiana at Lafayette Cajun and Creole Music Collection - Special Collections


Louisiana Cajun Music Vol. 5: The Early Years 1928-1938 (Old Timey/Arhoolie, 1973) 
Cajun Louisiane 1928-1939 (Fremeaux, 2003)
Cajun Capers: Cajun Music 1928-1954 (Proper, 2005)
Cajun Country, Vol. 2, More Hits from the Swamp (JSP, 2005)

The Best Of Cajun & Zydeco (Not Now, 2010)

1 comment:

  1. Thanks, Wade. I'm looking forward to your next blog on them.


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