Monday, August 3, 2015

"Te Mone" - Iry Lejeune

Almost blind, Iry Lejeune devoted himself to the accordion, developing a style based on the singing and playing of Creole musician Amede Ardoin.  His emotional, heart wrenching singing full of blues notes and slurs is emulated by most Cajun singers.  Eddie Shuler, owner of Folk-star, created the label specifically to record Iry Lejeune and his Lacassine Playboys. From there, he recorded a slew of what he considered "folk" music with artists such as Sidney Brown, Joe Manuel, Gene Rodrigue, Popeye Broussard and Phil Menard.  The Folk-star recording of "Te Mone" (#101) was the second pressing Eddie Shuler released of the group, recorded at the KPLC radio studio in Lake Charles.   It featured the Vanicor family musicians, Ellis on fiddle, Ivy on guitar, and Orsy on steel.  In fact, this song features the only steel guitar ride in all of Iry's recordings.   
Eh, quo'faire, toi, tu crois,
Moi, j'suis là tout le temps,
Après t'espérer, chère.
Tu devrais mais pas m'oublier, yé yaille,
Tant loin que, moim
Je m'éloigne de toi.

Eh, quo'faire t'es comme ça,
Après espérer juste pour moi mais jour et nuit,
Juste pour me faire des misères,
'Tit monde,
Des misères que je mérite pas.
Iry Lejeune

The song was heavily influenced by Amede Ardoin's 1934 San Antonio recording of "Oberlin".  While the phrase "tit monde" directly translates to "little world", it's meaning isn't apparent here.  The phrase of endearment in this case is similar to "chere tout tout", referring to a loved one, usually a young girl or daughter.  While "chere tout tout" has the meaning of "you're my all in all", similarly, "tit monde" has a deeper meaning, more along the lines of "you're my whole world" or better yet, "you're my everything".    According to producer Eddie:
The song Te Mone and the song Duralde Waltz we did that when they came out with the little cheap tape recorders. A little cheap one track tape recorder, I think , was the name of the thing was Echo or something like that.  Some little thing cost $278 and I was in hog heaven because I had a way to make records and didn't have to go give that guy a fifth of whiskey.4 
Eh, why do you think,

I am here alwayss,

Waiting for you, dear.

You shouldn't forget me, yé yaille,

So far that,

I distance myself from you.

Eh, why are you like that,

Waiting just for me day and night,

Just to make me miserable,
Little one,
Misery that I don't deserve.
Eddie Shuler

Milton Vanicor did not record on this project since he felt they had enough musicians and did not need him.  It's the only session in which Iry recorded with a steel guitar.  According to Milton Vanicor:
When Iry came to my house, he was hitch-hiking. He’d play maybe for a dollar at a restaurant in some town, he’d hitch-hike to go elsewhere and stop maybe at a bar. If you’d tell him, "Play, I’ll give you a dollar," he’d play. If you’d tell him, "I’ll give you 2 dollars," he’d play. It didn’t make any difference to him... He came to my house dirty, dirty clothes, poor thing. He said, "I’ve come to ask you if I could stay with you." And I told him, I said, "You’ve got to ask your cousin, my wife." She put her head down and she said, "I guess so, Iry."  She was a good person. So, we got him some clean clothes and he stayed at my house and that’s when we started The Lacassine Playboys and we had a band. Me, and my brother and R.C. (R.C. Vanicor) and my nephew. It was all family, my brothers. There were 3 brothers and then, my brother-in-law and Iry. The Lacassine Playboys. It was a good band... I went over there and recorded with them.... We’d play almost for nothin’. We’d go and get maybe $6 a man. It was kind of a lot of money in them days, but at the most I had, the big dances, maybe $12.

  1. Iry Lejeune: Wailin the Blues Cajun Style by Ron Yule
  2. Encyclopedia of the Blues: K-Z, index By Edward M. Komara 
Release Info:
-A Teche Special | Goldband F-101-A

-B Te Mone | Goldband F-101-B

The Legendary Iry LeJeune (Goldband, 1991)
Cajun's Greatest: The Definitive Collection (Ace, 2004)

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