Thursday, June 30, 2016

"Assi Dans La Fenetre De Ma Chambre (Sitting In The Window Of My Room)" - Blind Uncle Gaspard

Very little is known about the life of the singer-guitarist Blind Uncle Gaspard. He took part in two Vocalion recording sessions along with the fiddler Delma Lachney, the first in Chicago in February 1929, the second in March of the same year in New Orleans. Of particular interest are the two sides of one disc from the second session on which he sings, hums, and whistles while accompanying himself with guitar.

Le châssis dans la fenêtre de ma chambre, 
Je te regarde t'en aller,
Aussi loin que je peux, moi je veux ma chérie.
T'après t'en aller, t'en aller et m' quitter, 
M' quitter moi tout seul dans tout(e) la misère. 

J'croyais pas quand j' te disais go, 
Pour toi t'en aller, t'en aller pour toujours.

Dis-moi don(c) ma chère qu'il faudra j' t'abandonne, 
T'après t'en aller, t'en aller pour toujours.

Ta chère petite main qui me pressait la mienne 
En me disant "goodbye, goodbye" pour toujours.

La parole tu m'as dit qui me casse mon coeur, 
Qui me casse mon coeur en mille morceaux.

J'aurais jamais voulu attendre c'te parole,
La parole tu m'as dit "En m' disant goodbye".

"Goodbye ma chère, goodbye pour toujours", 
T'après t'en aller, t'en aller pour toujours.

La mort c'est dur mais t'abandonner c'est bien plus, 
Mais ouais ma chère c'est parti pour nous.

J'aimerais mieux dix pieds de terre sur moi, 
Plutôt que de t'abandonner, 
Et voir aujourd'hui t'après t'en aller.

T'en aller ma chère, t'en aller pour toujours, 
Quitté moi tout seul dans tout le chagrin.

Comment don(c) ma chère j' pourrais t'oublier, 
Ta chère p'tite figure que j' vois là où j' vas.

Tes chères p'tites joues roses et tes chers p'tits yeux bleus,
Me r'ssemble que je vois tout le temps devant moi.

Quand j' ferme mes yeux, me semble j' te vois,
Tes chers p'tits yeux bleus qui me regardent dans la mort.

Blind Uncle Gaspard
While in Chicago, the guitarist recorded "Assi Dans La Fenetre De Ma Chambre (Sitting In The Window Of My Room)" for Vocalion (#5280).  Dennis McGee, who also took part in the March 1929 session, relates,
His name was Gaspard, but I can't remember his other name any more. I've forgotten the name of the place where he lived, but it was in Avoyelles parish, over there in the north, somewhere around Bunkie. He sang for his wife; she had blue eyes. Vaillonne, he called her, vaillonne!
According to musician Michael Doucet, Blind Uncle Gaspard lived between Ville Platte and Eunice. Marc Savoy, accordionist of Eunice, says that Blind Uncle Gaspard was a carpenter and traveled in the armed forces, stationed at Camp Claiborne between Alexandria and Forest Hill during WWII.  He was not completely blind and could see a little.  At the end of his life he lived in Mamou, Louisiana.1
The frame of my bedroom window,
I watch you go away,
As far as I can, I want my baby.

After you go away, go away and leave me,
Leave me alone in total misery.

I did not believe, when I told you "Go!",
For you'd go away, you'd go away forever.

Tell me, my dear, that I've abandoned you,
You've gone, you've gone forever.

Your dear little hand, which has pressed against mine,
Which is me saying "Goodbye, goodbye", forever.

The speech you made breaks my heart,
Which breaks my heart into pieces.

I never wanted to wait around for your speech,
The words you said, "I'm saying goodbye".

"Goodbye, my dear, goodbye, forever",
You went away, went away forever.

Death is hard, but giving up is worse,
Well yeh, my dear, it's gone for us.

I would rather have twenty feet of earth on me,
Rather than abandon you,
And see, today, you've gone away.

You went away, my dear, went away forever,
Left me alone in all this grief.

How then, my dear, can I forget you,
Your dear little face that I see wherever I go,

Your dear little rosy cheeks and your dear little blue eyes,
So similar to what I see before me, all the time.

When I close my eyes, I think I see you,
Your dear little blue eyes watching me until I die.



  1. http://media.smithsonianfolkways.org/liner_notes/folkways/FW02625.pdf


Find:

John Bertrand / Blind Uncle Gaspard / Delma Lachney Early American Cajun Music (Yazoo, 1999)
Aimer Et Perdre: To Love & To Lose Songs, 1917-1934 (Tompkins Square, 2012)
Blind Uncle Gaspard, Delma Lachney ‎– On The Waters Edge (Mississippi, 2014)

Saturday, June 25, 2016

"Bury Me In A Corner Of The Yard" - Segura Brothers

The Segura brothers were two Louisiana-born Spanish brothers from around Delcambre that had been successful in landing recording sessions for Columbia records.   By the end of 1928, after responding to an ad in the paper, they made their way to New Orleans and recorded "Bury Me In A Corner Of The Yard" (#90000/40500).  It would be the first in a series of Cajun recordings that Columbia released in the late part of the 1920s.  Author Raymond Francois explains that Queue de Tortue ("turtle's tail") is thought to be the name of an Indian family who lived on what is now called Bayou Queue de Tortue between Crowley and Kaplan, Louisiana.1




'Tit fille, quand j'vas mourir, enterre pas moi dans le cimetière, 
Enterre donc moi dans le coin de la cour, dans le coin de la cour de ton papa,
Mais laisse donc moi, mes 'tits yeux sortis, mais, c'est pour voir tes chers 'tits yeux
Qui va rester mais si canailles, mais oui, tout l'temps d'ta vie chérie.

Tous les matins, quand je passe devant la porte de ton papa,
Mais, ton papa est planté avec la pipe au bec qui rit.

Allons à la Queue de Tortue mais c'est pour vivre sur le pain perdu, 
J'maudis tes criminelles, je maudis mes petites bouteilles,
C'est toi la cause mais si la belle, mais si la belle veux plus de moi.
Dewey and Eddie Segura

Turtles are common place in most of Louisiana, with natives using the animal for food, such as a turtle sauce piquant (stew).  Most likely, Dewey is referring to the location of the Louisiana community of Queue de Tortue, located near the bayou with the same name.  The bayou itself was most likely named after the Attakapas Indian chief, Celestine La Tortue.2 The phrase "pain perdu", while directly translating to "lost bread", loosely refers to what Cajuns call "French toast". 

By the time Dewey was eight, Dewey was given his own accordion and was experienced enough to play at Saturday-night dances run by his father, where he 'used to play most anything'.  During the next few years, Dewey presumably kept up with his musical activities but in 1925, he became involved in the hazardous and profitable occupation of moon-shining.  He transported bootleg liquor as fa afield as Lake Charles and east Texas.  Dewey's exploits of whiskey-running, in a converted Chandler sedan, with a a 50-gallon tank of liquor instead of a back seat, sometimes accompanied by his wife and their several children 'asleep' on a blanket at the back to avoid detection, make colorful and hair-raising tales.3 


Little girl, when I go to die, do not bury me in the cemetery,
So, bury me in the corner of the courtyard, in the corner of your dad's courtyard,
Well, let me keep my little eyes out, well, it's to see your little eyes,
Who are staying, well, mischievous, well yeah, for the rest of your life, dear.

Every morning, well, when I passed by your dad's door,
Well, your dad stands there with a pipe in his mouth, laughing.

Going to Queue de Tortue, well, to live on French toast,
I curse these criminal things, well, I curse my small bottles,
You're the reason, well, so beautiful, well, so beautiful, I want more.
Later, Moise Robin would re-record the tune as "Queue d'Tortue", (however, I have not been able to find any official source of this recording).  Related songs are Nathan Abshire's "Allons Tuer la Tortue" and Reggie Matte's and Ambrose Thibodeaux's "Cimetiere."   That original melody of "La Queue d'Tortue" also found it's way into Aldus Roger's "Hix Wagon Wheel Special".





  1. "Ye Yaille Chere, Traditional Cajun Dance Music" by Raymond E. Francois
  2. Indian tribes of the lower Mississippi Valley and adjacent coast of the Gulf ...By John Reed Swanton
  3. Old Time Music. No.40. Winder 1984.
  4. Lyrics by 'Victor', Stephane F and Stéphanie D
Find:
Cajun: Rare & Authentic (JSP, 2008)
The Very Best of Cajun: La Stomp Creole, Vol. 1 (Viper, 2016)

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

"La Veuve De La Coulee" - Leroy "Happy Fats" Leblanc

In 1940, Harry Choates made his first recordings, playing fiddle and electric guitar with Happy Fats' Rayne-Bo Ramblers.  Formerly a purely Cajun band, the Ramblers were by then playing western swing-influenced honkytonk music, the songs in English as often as French.  Choates too would make his living in both camps, switching effortlessly from old Cajun tunes to swing numbers.3 

Like the Hackberry Ramblers' "Wondering", "La Veuve De La Coulee" (#2081), known as "The Widows of the Creek", struck a chord with the record buying audiences when it was.  Released on Bluebird in 1942, the record  became a national hit.1  The remaining members were Sandy Lormand on guitar, Pee Wee Broussard on banjo, and Ray Clark on steel.   Leroy "Happy Fats" Leblanc recalls when the song was released:
Our picture came out along with people like the Sons of the Pioneers. We had the "Hit of the Week", which was a number we recorded called "Les Veuve A Kita La Coulee" that I had cut in Dallas for RCA.1,2  
Harry Choates

Tout les veuve de la coulée, 

Sont partie au village,

Pour acheter de coton jaune a la boutique.



Pour achter des coton jaune,

Pour fait des tite mémines,

Pour les belle tit coeur de coulée fini.


Tout les veuve de la coulée, 

Sont partie au village,

Pour acheter de coton jaune a la boutique.



Sont aller sur la coulée, 

Sont aller sur la coulée, 

Pour amener les belle tite fille la bas chez Joe. 
Crowley Daily Signal
Sept 12, 1941

It was an old melody that can be traced back to 19th century with the first instance known as "Bonaparte Crossing the Rhine".   By 1856, it would be formally written into the song "Darling Nellie Gray" and recorded by John Myers in 1904.  Years later, the tune would be popularized throughout Appalacia and Texas.  "La Veuve" became Happy's first significant hit.  The band increased the tempo and inserted lyrics of a French tale about widows and coton jaune.1   

Coton jaune is a hand-spun and hand woven Acadian brown cotton used by Cajun women in the countryside. According to Dr. Ray Brassieur and Suzanne Chaillot Breaux it's "New World cotton" originating from ancient trade routes from Chaco Canyon (New Mexico) up to Tunica Hills".  Breaux states:
"This cotton made its way over to south Louisiana and then it just took like crazy like cotton does in this area.  They were mostly doing wool up there in Nova Scotia, but when they arrived here they realized it was too hot, the climate wasn’t conducive for wool and they discovered this cotton growing here. Basically they realized that this cotton, not only was it free, but you didn’t need a cotton gin because they had discovered that the seed coat was seedless, plus hairless. So you would just pop the seeds right out and you had cotton that didn’t need a gin."5
As Happy resumed his music after the war, many of the tunes he remembered in the 40s were still popular on his radio program.  Given the chance to record again, he renamed "La Veuve" as "Les Veuve A Kita La Coulee" (#2035) for RCA Victor in 1946.  However, his new group consisted of Francis "Red" Fabacher on lead guitar, Jimmy Gardiner on rhythm guitar, Giles "Candy Man" Castillo on steel, Buel Hoffpauir on drums, Andrus "Nonc Ambros" Thibodeaux on fiddle (not to be confused with the famous accordion player Ambrose Thibodeaux). 

All the widows of the gully,

Are leaving to the village,

To buy yellow cotton at the shop.



To buy yellow cotton,

For making little bloomers,

For the pretty little girls of the gully to finish.



All the widows of the gully,

Are leaving to the village,

To buy yellow cotton at the shop.



Going down the gully, 

Going down the gully,

To bring the beautiful little girls down to Joe's.

That same year, he released the almost exact tune for J.D. Miller's Fais Do Do label called "Bayou Lafourche" (not to be confused by his recording of "Bayou Lafourche" on Bella done in 1953).  He changed the lyrics and slowed it down to a waltz. 
Alex Broussard, Nonc Ambrose, Happy Fats

Abe Manuel covered the tune in 1954, partly in French and partly in English, as "Country Girl".  Sidney Brown used the melody in his 1958 recording of "Noir Chaussette's Two Step".  In the later eras, "La Veuve" had many follow up recordings including one by Vin Bruce for Swallow records and in 1971, Austin Pitre recorded it giving it the title "Widow of the Gully" in which he "breaks" in the middle of the tune.   Later, the Balfa brothers would re-record the popular tune in 1975 in a live recording at the C.C. Lounge in Basile, Louisiana and then a week later in the studio at Rounder Records.   Quite possibly, it may have influenced Don Rich's recording of "Cajun Fiddle".


La Veuve De La Coulee (1942)


Les Veuve A Kita La Coulee (1946)



  1. Cajun Breakdown : The Emergence of an American-Made Music By Ryan Andre Brasseaux
  2. "South To Louisiana: The Music of the Cajun Bayous" by John Broven
  3. Country Music Originals: The Legends and the Lost By Tony Russell 
  4. http://www.bopping.org/happy-fats-leroy-leblanc-his-rayne-bo-ramblers-louisiana-extraordinaire-1935-1967/
  5. http://www.theadvertiser.com/story/news/history/2015/05/11/big-deal-coton-jaune/27138863/
  6. Image by Neal P
Find:
Five-Time Loser 1940-1951 (Krazy Kat, 1998)
Cajun Fiddle King (AIM, 1999)
Devil in the Bayou - The Gold Star Recordings (Bear Family, 2002)
Cajun Classics: Kings Of Cajun At Their Very Best (Ace, 2002)
Cajun Capers: Cajun Music 1928-1954 (Proper, 2005)
Cajun Country, Vol. 2, More Hits from the Swamp (JSP, 2005)
HAPPY FATS & His Rayne-Bo Ramblers (BACM, 2009)
Leroy Happy Fats LeBlanc: & His Rayne-Bo Ramblers (Master Classics, 2013)

Thursday, June 16, 2016

"La Valse de Madame Sosten" - Joe Falcon

In 1934, Decca picked up where Columbia/Okeh, Brunswick and Vocalion had left off in 1930.   Only RCA Victor had decided to stay in the market, releasing Cajun music on it's subsidiary label, Bluebird.  By this time, Decca had heard about Joe and Cleoma's Bluebird recordings and decide to kick off their new "Cajun" music series with their first release, "La Valse de Madame Sosten" (#17000). This would lead the way for Decca recording many more Cajun music artists between 1934 and 1939 such as Leo Soileau, Amede Ardoin, Doc Guidry, Joe Werner, and the Faubacher brothers as Jolly Boys of Lafayette.  The duo traveled to New York City by bus and wrote one of the most well known waltzes in Cajun music.   
Oh Madame Sosthène, mais donnez moi Alida,

La seule moi j'aimais, mais depuis l'âge de quatorze ans.

Quand même tu ne veux pas, faudra toujours toi tu viens,

Faudra toi tu viens, mais (z)un beau jour avant d'mourir.



Au jour d'aujourd'hui, mais c'que j'voudrais m'la promène,

ça s'rait tu m'voirais, comment mais moi j'fais pitié.

Tu sais dans toi-même, j'ai plus personne pour m'aimer

Faudra moi j'l'endure jusqu'à à l'âge de quatorze ans.



C'est dur de me voir, mais m'en aller moi tout seul,

J'suis obligé d'm'en aller, mais par rapport à ça t'as dit.

T'aurais donc voulu, mais m'écouter tu voirais,

Tu voirais pour toi-même mais quoi t'as fais (z)avec moi.
It's a story about Joe's aunt, Josephine Trahan, wife of Sostene Falcon.  Her daughter, Alida, is the subject of a love interest in which a likely older man begs Mrs. Sosthene to have Alida for himself.  He has been interested in her for 14 years and while he walks away, he's heartbroken and wants her family to know this. 
Sosthene Falcon and 
"Madame Sosthene" (Josephine Trahan Falcon)
Oh Madame Sosthène, let me have Alida,

She's the one I've loved since the age of 14.

Even though you do not want me to, I'll come visit,

Just need to one more time before I die.



Today's the day if you want to come with me,

You will see for yourself, how pitiful I am,

You know this yourself, I have no one to love me,

I've endured this since the age of 14.



Alida Falcon
It's hard for me to leave by myself,

I have to leave, but, it's because of what you've done, 

You should have wanted to listen, but, you'll see,

You'll see for yourself what you've done to me.

Alida Falcon would grow up around north of Rayne near the other Falcon families.  She got married and moved to Port Neches, TX living a quiet life as a mother.   They remember her as soft-spoken. Later in the 1950s, Lawrence Walker would take the song, "Madame Sostan", and change the lyrics to have Alida's love interest threaten to take her away through the window. 





  1. Lyrics by Jerry M
Find:
Pioneers of the Cajun Accordion (Arhoolie, 1989)
Cajun Louisiane 1928-1939 (Fremeaux, 2003)
Cajun Early Recordings (JSP, 2004)

Saturday, June 11, 2016

"Les Blues Du Texas" - Dennis McGee & Ernest Fruge

Dennis McGee (spelled 'Denus') and Ernest Fruge represent some of the earliest forms of Cajun music before the presence of the accordion.  The duo had previously recorded together the year before and by 1930, they teamed up for the song "Les Blues Du Texas" (#557) for Brunswick.  In the song, the protagonist describes himself as an orphan who wanders to greener pastures in Texas, pointedly drawing a parallel to the plight of many Cajun struggling economically during the Great Depression.  Fruge's provided a second fiddle accompaniment, as McGee sang the tune as a talking blues, a prevalent song style throughout the African-American South. 



J'ai parti pour aller dans le Texas,

J'ai passé-z-a Eunice, m'acheter un pain de 5 sous,

J'ai mange la moitie pour mon dejeuner,

J'ai gardé l'aut' moitie pour mon diner. 



J'ai marche moi tout seul, cherie,

J'ai marche touts les jours et tous les nuits,

Comme un pauv' malheureux.



Depuis a l'age de 15 ans,

J'ai plus rein de pere et de mere,
J'ai traine les chemins,
Jusques a l'age de 38 ans.

J'ai passé de porte a porte, j'ai demandé la charite,
Quand meme un 'tit morceau de pain,
Comment tu veux mais moi, je fais moi tout seul dans les chemins,
Tous les jours et touts les nuits.

J'avais quitte pour quelqu'un me ramasser, 
Ca me donne d l'assistance et de l'aide,
Pour un pauv' orphein comme moi.


Dennis McGee
Like many Cajun songs about Texas, the subject matter was about leaving and heading west in search of better opportunities, rather it be in the oil fields or just to start a new life.   McGee's compositions "Les Blues De Texas" and "Valse de Puit D'Huile" stem directly from the cross-cultural interaction that took place across ethnic and geographic boundaries between Cajuns and Anglo-Texas. 

The melody is clearly an older one; one that influenced Leo Soileau's earlier recording of "Easy Rider Blues" the previous year. An intricate tapestry effect is produced by Dennis McGee and Ernest Fruge, whose seconding reproduces more closely the highly ornamented melodic line played by the lead fiddle, complete with cascading trill after trill. No dead space: every square inch filled.2



I left to go to Texas,

I passed by Eunice, to buy 5 cents worth of bread,

I had half of it for breakfast,

I kept the rest for my dinner.



I walked all alone, dear,

I walked all day and all night, every day,

like a poor, wretched soul.



From the time I was 15,

I've had no mother or father,
I've walked the roads,
Until I was 38.

I went from door to door, begging,
hoping for just a little piece of bread,
how am I supposed to get along, all alone on the streets?
All day and all night long.

I left hoping somebody would take me in,
To give me just a little bit of help,
A little help for a poor orphan like me.

Today, you can hear the influences of the melody in "Blues De Cajun", recorded by the Balfas and other modern Cajun musicians.  The resemblance in fact of this archaic Cajun twin fiddle tradition to the older style of fiddle-playing in central Europe is striking, especially with respect to those cascading rolling trills one on top of another, like overlapping folds of surf, neither ending or beginning.  Songs with this lyrical theme inspired others such as Leo Soileau's "Quand Je Suis Bleu (When I Am Blue)".







  1. Cajun Breakdown : The Emergence of an American-Made Music By Ryan Andre Brasseaux. p85.
  2. https://oldtimeparty.wordpress.com/the-southern-marvel/

Find:
Complete Early Recordings 1929-1930 (Yazoo, 1994)

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" 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
Find:
Iry Lejeune: Cajun's Greatest: The Definitive Collection (Ace, 2003)

Thursday, June 2, 2016

"Mon Cour Me Fais Ci Mal" - Hackberry Ramblers

Cash was king during the 1930s in the South and both the companies and the recording artists knew this.  The main recording A&R scout for Victor Bluebird in the area was Eli Oberstein.  Luderin Darbone recalls:
He was there every time. We recorded twice a year for the next... until the latter part of 1938.  Every six months they would call us. 

We'd talk about our recording session. We'd start recording and maybe in three hours time we would be through and then we'd take off.  He'd pay us off and then that would be it.   I know he had a lot of cash on him.  He would pay us off in cash. If we took royalty, he would pay for our expenses which was an advancement.1

J'avais une chere tit fille,

Qui m'aimait aussi tant,

J'ai quitté pour m'en aller. 

Oh, mon cœur me fait si mal.



Chere, ton neg j'ai pas bien fait,
Quand je t'ai quitté toi tout seul,
Asteur, t'es pour de mal que moi.
Ah, mon cœur me fait si mal.

J'dois m'en aller dans le Texas,
Parce que, je connais, tu m'aimes (de) plus,
J'vas essayer de t'oublier.
Ah, mon coeur me fait si mal.
Life Magazine
May 1939
The song is about leaving a girl to go to Texas.     "Asteur" used here is the corrupted spelling of the old French phrase "a ç't'heure" which means "at this time", or better yet, "right now".  Sung by Luderin Darbonne, this 1938 recording of "Mon Cour Me Fais Ci Mal" (#2048) was backed by Dannny Shreve on guitar, Floyd Shreve on guitar, and Claude "Pete" Duhon on bass.

Victor was using the money from selling records and Victrolas to pay for the field sessions.   When the Bluebird label started, they were advertising records "3 for a dollar".  By 1939, a RCA Victor Model U-123 which sat in your home living room could run $130 while a portable Model O-12 could cost a buyer $12.50.2

I had a dear little girl,

Who loved me so much,

I left to go away,

Oh, my heart hurts so bad.


Dearest, your man, I'm not feeling well,
When I left you all by yourself,
Right now, you're trouble for me,
Ah, my heart hurts so bad.

I gotta go to Texas,
Beacause, I know, you love another,
I'm gonna try to forget you,
Ah, my heart hurts so bad.

Bluebird also pressed the song on #2088 as well, changing the spelling from "fais" to "fois".


Floyd Shreve, Luderin Darbone,
Danny Shreve, Claude "Pete" Duhon






  1. http://arhoolie.org/hackberry-ramblers/
  2. Life Magazine. May 1939.
  3. Lyrics by Stephane F and Jerry M
Find:
Louisiana Cajun Music Volume 8: The Hackberry Ramblers - Early Recordings 1935-1948 (Old Timey, 1988)