Monday, September 21, 2015

"Mercredi Soir Passé (Last Wednesday Night)" - Blind Uncle Gaspard

In 1929, the blind singer/guitarist Alcide Gaspard would have been in his 40s when he made his only recordings.  The connection between Gaspard and the fiddle player/singer Delma Lachney is a clear one - the former played guitar on the latter's records (although interestingly, Lachney played no fiddle on Gaspard's, recorded at the same session). 

Éyou t’es Mercredi passé,
Oh après boire tout ce vin doux,
Et après charrer avec une jolie fille,
Qu'a pris mon cœur à moi.

Viens, ma chère, casse pas mon cœur,
Oh, je veux pas d’entendre pleurer,
Trois semaine, chère, il faudra prepare(r),
Pour séparé mon et toi,

Eux voudrais j’aurais jamais mis,
Oh, quand j’étais petit,
J’aurais jamais des larmes asteur,
Pour ce chère jolie fille.

Qui, qui va te mettre tes souliers, ma chère?
Ou qui va te mettre tes chers tit gants?
Qui qui va embrasser tes petit joues?
Quand moi je serai loin de toi.

Oh écoute, j'attend char qui vient,
Oh, il faut j’vas prendre mon ticket,
Tu connais c’est dur pour me séparer,
Mais j’vas m'battre pour toi et mon pays.

Ouais, ma chère, c'est beaucoup dur. 
Je crois il faut te quitter, 
Et te quitter et pour la mort,
Et pour toujours je t'aime.

Uncle Blind Gaspard
"Mercredi Soir Passe" (#5281) is a real mixture - the tune has a bluesy feel to it, but notably French Cajun characteristics as well, while the notes tell us that the lyric features age-old motifs.  Gaspard's guitar accompaniment is no more than a rudimentary strum, although he creates quite an interesting and pleasing effect by ending each section on a major chord.  The word "asteur" is a corrupted form of the phrase "à c't'heure" or "à cette heure", meaning now.  Today, "asteur" is considered an archaic term in most of France, however, still used in other regional languages and dialects, such as Picard in particular (northern France).4

Where were you last Wednesday?

Oh, after drinking all that sweet wine,

And after chatting with a pretty girl,
That had taken my heart from me.

Come, my dear, don't break my heart,
Oh, I do not want to hear you cry,
Three weeks, dear, requires preparation,
Separated, me and you.

They wish I'd never,
Oh, when I was little,
I'll never have tears now,
For this dear pretty girl. 

Who will put on your little shoes, my dear?
Or who will get your dear little gloves?
Who will kiss your little cheeks?
When I'm away from you.

Oh, listen, I'm waiting for the ride coming,
Oh, I must take my ticket,
You know it's hard for me to leave,
But I will fight for you and my country.

Yeh, my dear, it's very hard,
I think we must leave you,
And I will leave you and die,
And I'll always love you.

Between 1964 and 1967, Ralph Rinzler, supported by the Newport Folk Foundation, came to Louisiana recording a series of field recordings, including Edius Naquin who resurrected the tune entitled as "Où T'étais Mercredi Passé".





  1. https://oldtimeparty.wordpress.com/2012/08/07/early-american-cajun-music/
  2. Louisiana Cajun and Creole Music: The Newport Field Recordings.  Liner notes.
  3. Lyrics by Jerry M and Stephane F and Smith S
  4. Discussions with Stef Fan-Ni

Find:

John Bertrand / Blind Uncle Gaspard / Delma Lachney Early American Cajun Music (Yazoo, 1999)
Cajun: Rare & Authentic (JSP, 2008)
Cajun Music, The Pretty Girls Don't Want Me (Firefly, 2012)
Cajun Swamp Stomp, Vol 1 (Lumi, 2012)
Let Me Play This For You: Rare Cajun Recordings (Tompkins, 2013)

Blind Uncle Gaspard, Delma Lachney ‎– On The Waters Edge (Mississippi, 2014)

7 comments:

  1. Robert Jardel has a great and heartbreaking version of this song, but with different lyrics. https://open.spotify.com/track/3TVyk9MXNnNuRyoPFSCl2a. In his version the singer has to leave his love to go to war. He asks one thing of her before he leaves: take care of my dear children. When he gets back, he finds her cheating on him. He walks away and the kids join him saying "you stayed in the army too long and she found someone else."

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    1. Excellent! Thanks for that information

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    2. Thanks i will see if i have it some where

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  2. The last verse of Nonc Gaspard's version is interesting. It uses lyrics found in a bunch of English language folk songs, like this one sung by Woodie Guthrie:
    https://youtu.be/nWs6ICnkT8g
    Who's gonna shoe your pretty little feet?
    Who's gonna glove your hand?
    Who's gonna kiss your red ruby lips?
    Who's gonna be your man?
    (Or sometimes: When I'm in a far distant land)

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  3. Going back to Robert Jardel's version in which they guy leaves sing "Aujourd'hui sus parti aussi loin de toi pour battre pour mon pays." Can anyone think of any other Cajun songs about leaving for war? The only one I can think of is one of my favorites, Nathan Abshire's Service Blues.
    https://youtu.be/NB2o6RwLRYs This clip has nice commentary in French.

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    1. Thanks for your feed back. The only thing I've come up with remotely close is Choates' "Korea Here We Come" and Horace Lebleau's "Korea Blues", but generally not lumped with most Cajun songs. Otherwise, maybe some later ones after the 1970s.

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    2. Lee Sonnier's "War Widow Waltz" could possibly be considered another.

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