Saturday, October 15, 2016

"Osson" - Joe Falcon

Joe Falcon would take this much older melody and create the song known as "Osson" for Columbia in April of 1929 in Atlanta.  It was one year after his recording of "Lafayette".   He and his wife Cleoma accompanied her brothers for their first studio session where they recorded a couple of their own tunes. Sometimes listed as "Osson One Step", the fast pace tune carries a somber story of a man feeling unloved. 

Oh, mais pauvre Osson,

Mais les belles filles si canailles,

C’’est pitié quand je les vois,

Oh méfie-toi mais les ‘tites brunes est si canailles,

Et les ‘tites blondes, ya pas moyen, sont flères.

Oh, mais pauvre Osson,

Il me fait pitié quand pour moi,

J’vas jongler à ce qu’il m’a fait,

Mais c’est de voir mais hier au soir cette belle tite fille,

Quand elle m’a dit joli cœur,

Moi j’veux plus, plus t’aimer.

Oh, tu m’as quitté moi tout seul,
Comme un pauvre misérable, plus d'espoir de la revoir. 
Hier j’m’ai trainé, bien jonglé,
Mais y avoir l’air pour elle-même,
J’mérite pas non tout ça,
Comme elle a fait hier au soir.
Ossun is a community north of Lafayette.  It borrowed some similarities from an old fiddle melody called "Rubber Dolly".  The tune must have been floating around the countryside since later that year, Angelas LeJeunne would record the tune as the more well-known "Bayou Pom Pom One Step" and Adam Trahan did the same with his "The Waltz of Our Little Town".  By 1934, Amede Ardoin traveled to NYC and recorded the song for Decca with many similarities, giving it the title "Tortope d'Osrun".   After the war, Austin Pitre sped up the tempo and created his "High Point Two Step".  Falcon's vocals were always emotional, while his accordion remained unyieldingly dominant and Cleoma's guitar maintained a consistent strumming rhythm.1  Her brother Ophy joined in on fiddle.

Oh, poor Osson,

Well, the beautiful girls are just scum,

It's a pity when I see them,

Oh, but beware, the little brunettes are scoundrels,

And the little blondes, no way, they're snobby.

Oh, poor Osson,

It makes me pitiful,

I'm reminiscing about what she did,

But, seeing, last night, this beautiful little girl,

When she told me that, pretty girl,

I wanted to love you more.

Oh, you left me all alone,
Like a poor wretch, a love story,
Yesterday, I laid low, although reminiscing,
But, there she appeared,
I don't deserve all of that,
As of what she did last night.
Iry Lejeune, however, would borrow the melody from his uncle Angelas for his "Bayou Pom Pom Special".  Like the old Cajun and blues singers, he wrote his own lyrics but was often unaware of the origins of the tunes. Joe stated:
The number was there but I had to make up the words.  Like "Osson", it was the name of a little town, but you just have to find a name to put on the record.  It's an old two-step.2

  1. South to Louisiana: The Music of the Cajun Bayous By John Broven
  3. Lyrics by Stéphanie D
Pioneers of the Cajun Accordion (Arhoolie, 1989)
Roots 'N' Blues/The Retrospective 1925-1950 (Legacy/Columbia, 1992)
Old-Time Southern Dance Music: The String Bands, Vols. 1 & 2 (Arhoolie, 1997)
Les Cajuns Best Of 2002 Les Triomphes De La Country Volume 12 (Habana, 2002)
Bayou Two-Step - Cajun Hits From Louisiana 1929-1962 (Jasmine, 2015)

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