Tuesday, June 7, 2016

"Grand Bosco" - Iry Lejeune

Le Pays Dans La Jogue!  Cajun accordionist Iry Lejeune never restricted himself to purely Cajun music influences.  Luderin Darbone recalls that Lejeune came by the Silver Star on numerous occasions to listen to the Hackberry Ramblers style of music.   His collection of 78s included albums by Gene Autry, Bob Wills, the Carter Family, and in this case, Jimmie Rodgers and his blues yodeling.  Also known as the "Blues de Bosco", Lejeune would let Goldband's producer Ed Shuler into his home and they would record a series of tunes in his kitchen, one of them being "Grand Bosco" (#1041) in 1955.  It was an ode to the yodeler Jimmie Rodgers. 

J'ai le pays dans la jogue,

J'ai le bouchon dans l'autre main,

J'ai le pays dans la jogue,

J'ai le bouchon dans l'autre main,

Ta femme est "gone",

Et ton tit veau est crevé de la faim.

Si tu me vois dessus le chemin,

"Gone to" grand Bosco,

Si tu me vois sur le chemin,

Parti-z- à grand Bosco,

Parti-z- (avec) une bâle (botte) de foin,

Pour mon ’tit veau.

Ta maison est brûlée,

Et ta femme elle est pas là,

Ta maison est brûlée,

Ta femme elle est pas là,
Elle a quitté hier au soir,
Pour s’en revenir avec moi.
Iry Lejeune

The house is frequently used as a metaphor for love or marriage, so that leaving the house becomes a highly symbolic action in these songs. The word "jogue" is an old Cajun word for "jug" or "bottle".  Lejeune (spelled here as "Le June") possibly had Wilson Granger on fiddle playing in the back ground and Alfred Cormier on guitar..  Bosco is a small community in south Lousiana (between Lafayette and Church Point) named after a store owner, Bosco Prejean. 

Based on Joe and Cleoma's recording of the blues tune "Raise Your Window High" and "Ouvrez Grand Ma Fenêtre", his song clearly echoes Jimmy Rogers' "Anniversary Blue Yodel (Blue Yodel No. 7)", also known as "I Was A Stranger", also about a loner who wonders around. His "Grande Bosco" is enough like Jimmie's in its basics that Rodgers is now sometimes listed as coauthor.6 

Iry is describing abandoning his relationship with his wife as well as leaving the house. In a very vivid example of such imagery, the successful lover in "Grand Bosco" informs his rival that he has stolen his wife and that his house, the embodiment of the marriage, is destroyed as well.
I have the world in a jug,

And the stopper in my hand,

I have the world in a jug,

And the stopper in my hand,

Your wife is gone,

And your little calf is dead-beat with hunger.

If you see me on the path,

Gone to Grand Bosco,

If you see me on the path,

Leaving for Grand Bosco,

Leaving with a hay bale,

For my little calf.

Your house is burnt,

And your wife is not there,

Your house is burnt,

The wife is not there,
She left last night,
To be back with me.

Alternate take on Grand Bosco

If one carefully listens to the song, Iry exclaims "Ah, Pill", referring to Wilson who constantly was taking medicine for his headaches.  Iry would re-work this song into "It Happened To Me" (#1198) which recorded around the same time. According to Erwin Lejeune, when Iry went to re-record the tune, Shuler didn't care for the name of the song and changed it.1  However, we do know that Eddie had given the title to the pressing company in California shortly after Iry's death, labeling the song as such.  In that version, he mimics Jimmy's song more closely by changing a verse by stating "alon le chemin fer" translated to "along the railroad tracks", .....strangely enough, since there are no tracks in Bosco.  Also, Iry used the "house on fire" metaphor, in French, despite the English title.6  Ed Shuler, owner and manager of Goldband Records recalled:

Most of his recordings were recorded at his home south of Lacassine, LA.  Acoustics were no problem because of the construction of the house.  It had been built out of green lumber, and had become well seasoned.

  1. Iry Lejeune: Wailin the Blues Cajun Style by Ron Yule
  2. Louisiana Fiddlers By Ron Yule
  3. Cajun Country By Barry Jean Ancelet
  4. Negotiating Difference in French Louisiana Music: Categories, Stereotypes By Sara Le Menestrel
  5. http://www.louisianafolklife.org/lt/articles_essays/creole_art_oral_poetry_caj.html
  6. Meeting Jimmie Rodgers : How America's Original Roots Music By Journalist Barry Mazor
The Legendary Iry LeJeune (Goldband, 1991)
Iry Lejeune: Cajun's Greatest: The Definitive Collection (Ace, 2003)

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