Wednesday, November 9, 2016

"O! Bebe" - Oscar "Slim" Doucet & Alius Soileau

A fantastic Cajun tune, recorded in New Orleans in late 1929.  It was during the same session, Alius Soileau teamed up with his cousin, Leo, who had just finished recording with Moise Robin the previous month. Together they were spearheading some of the earliest Cajun music with Victor records.  However, Alius chose to also play alongside his friend Oscar "Slim" Doucet, an accordion player, who had waxed some Cajun crooner tunes with Patrick Pellerin.  With Slim on accordion and Alius on fiddle, they duo belted out four sides, two of which were issued on RCA Victor and two which were issued on Victor's subsidiary budget label called Bluebird.  The Victor songs contained "O! Bebe" (#22366), a song which Slim sang on his own.
Oscar Doucet

Ah, Joline, si loin de d'la maison,

Mais, écoute moi bien chérie viens voir,

Mais, 'coute toi-même, t'as maltraité ton nég', par rapport à les conseils, 
Mais, tu vas me payer ça, Joline, mais, jolie fille.

Ah, mignonne, quoi faire t'as fait tout ça, 
Mais, si jolie bouclé, mais ça z'à moi savoir,
On va s'en aller, chère, mais voir les jolie filles, 
Mais, écoutes pas les conseils tout le monde est z'aprés dire.

Hey, oui donc, allons aux Opelousas,
Mais, c’est pour voir ma belle,
Mais, oui, mais ma ‘tite fille.
Mais, écoute-moi bien, chérie
Viens voir, mais pour toi-même.
T’as maltraité ton nègre,
Par rapport à les conseils.
Ruston Daily Leader
November 22, 1929

Some of the language is interesting to casual readers. The word "joline" could be referring to someone's name, however, it's common for Cajun speakers in certain areas to add an 'n' to the word "jolie".   It was more of a regional phrasing. "Jolie bouclé" was more of a term of endearment, similar to the Cajun phrase "jolie blonde" or "chere bebe".   The phrase "quoi faire" literally means "what make", sometimes translated to "what to do".    It is commonly found in Louisiana French songs.  However, it's usage is more along the words "why have" or "what reason", possibly based in a unique mixture of the Louisiana French "pourquoi" and the African Kwa language word "kofe" which means "why".  It is best explained as a case of convergence between the vernacular and dialectal varieties of French spoken by the white settlers of colonial Louisiana and the languages spoken by the African slaves.2
Ah, Joline, so far from home,
Well, listed to me well, my beloved, come see me,
Well, listen to yourself, you've abused your old man, respect the advice given,
Well, you are going to pay for that, Joline, well, pretty girl.

Ah, cutie, why have you done all of this,
Well, so, pretty curls, well, that is what I know,
We're going to go, dear, well, to see the pretty girls,
Well, don't listen to the advice everyone has told you.

Hey, oh yeh, let's go to Opelousas,
Well, it's to see my beauty,
Well yeh, well, my little girl,
Well, listen to me well, dear,
Come see, well, for yourself,
You have mistreated your old man,
Respect the advice given.

It doesn't seem that they were able to achieve the success they had garnered with other recording sessions.   The session is the last one for both artists and only Alius' cousin Leo would go on to record for years to come.

  1. The Encyclopedia of Country Music
  2. The Structure of Louisiana Creole', Albert Valdman and Thomas Klinger
  3. Lyrics by Stephanie D and Jerry M
Le Gran Mamou: A Cajun Music Anthology - The Historic Victor–Bluebird Sessions 1928–1941 Vol. 1 (Country Music Foundation, 1990)
Cajun Capers: Cajun Music 1928-1954 (Proper, 2005)
Cajun Country, Vol. 2, More Hits from the Swamp (JSP, 2005)
The Best Of Cajun & Zydeco (Not Now, 2010)
Cajun Hot Stuff 1928-1940 (Acrobat, 2011)

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