Monday, October 24, 2016

"T'est Petite Et T'est Mignonne" - Leo Soileau

After his short stint recording traditional Cajun music with Mayeus Lafleur and then Moise Robin, Leo Soileau had run a few sessions with Bluebird before he agreed to record for Decca.   Never wholly committed to the old French repertoire, he was happy to mix it with hillbilly and popular songs, with their more varied tunes and chord progressions, and around 1934, he put together a band to play them.  In Chicago the following year, they recorded "You Are Little and You Are Cute" known as "T'est Petite Et T'est Mignonne" (#17008).  It was first recorded by the Fawvors entitled "T'Est Petite a Ete T'Est Meon".  Even earlier, Eddie Segura and Didier Hebert used the title in their melody called "You're Small And Sweet". 

The Four Aces, with guitarists Floyd Shreve and Dewey Landry and possibly drummer Tony Gonzales (but could be O.P. Shreve or Johnny Roberts), represented the new sound of Cajun club music, and not everybody was ready for it. 



T’es petite et t’es mignone,

Et t'es jalousie mais j’t’amie quand meme,

T’es petite et t’es galeuse,

C'est trop galeuse pour faire ma femme.

Oh la belle, t’es pas lavé,

Oh, oui, la belle, tu peux aller t’laver.



T’es petite et t’es mignone,
Et t'es jalousie mais j’t’amie quand meme,
T’es petite et t’es mignone,
T'es jalousie pour faire ma femme,
Oh la belle, t’es jalousie,
De trop jalousie mais j’t’amie quand meme.


Leo Soileau (fiddle), Tony Gonzales (drums)3
Tony Gonzales was a native of Crowley, Louisiana and good friends with Leo.   His brother, Roy, was an accordion player who earlier copied Jimmie Rodgers tunes and recorded them in Cajun french for Paramount records.2  Tony, who worked with jazz musicians, dramatically altered the sound of Leo's group by providing a firm and brash dance cadence on his rudimentary drum kit to complement the fluid interplay between voices.3

At their first session for Decca in Chicago in 1935, the engineer objected that the drums were blasting the cutting needle out of its groove.  The problem was solved by stacking pillows round the kit to absorb some of the reverberation.3  
"Well," said the engineer, "I'm learning something."1
Author Ryan Brasseaux makes the case that Tony Gonzales could have very well been the first drummer in country music, and by far, the first drummer in Cajun music.3  

You're small and you're cute,

And you're jealous, but, I like you anyways,

You're small and you're shabby,

(You're) too shabby to be my wife,

Oh, girl, you're not clean,

Oh, yeh, girl, you need to wash up.



You're small and you're cute,
And you're jealous, but, I like you anyways,
You're small and you're cute,
You're too jealous to be my wfie,
Oh, girl, you're too jealous,
Too jealous, but, I like you anyways.

The word "galeuse" is an Cajun word to signify looking dirty or shabby.  Versions of the song would be recorded later by Harry Choates, Crawford Vincent and then even later by the Balfa Brothers. 




  1. Country Music Originals : The Legends and the Lost: The Legends and the Lost By Tony Russell
  2. Meeting Jimmie Rodgers : How America's Original Roots Music Hero Changed the ... By Journalist Barry Mazor
  3. Cajun Breakdown: The Emergence of an American-Made Music By Ryan Andre Brasseaux

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