Thursday, January 5, 2017

"Sunset" - Amede Ardoin & Dennis McGee

Accordion player Amede Ardoin recorded 22 songs in New Orleans and San Antonio with Cajun fiddler Dennis McGee, some of which would become Cajun standards.  Author Darrell Bourque described Amédé as bringing the white Cajun and black Creole traditions together in a society that policed racial boundaries so rigidly that it ultimately brought about his death. 

"His music", Mr. Bourque said, represented “a little pocket of possibility that didn’t get replicated in the larger culture.”2

His music streamed into the open air fields of the prairies and the closed rooms of house dances in rural areas.  McGee recalls:
Every once in a while, we would play for a dance in the neighborhood. Then, Oscar [the sharecropping boss] went broke and quite farming.  Amede left to come live in Eunice, and I came to live here, too.  That's when we really started playing seriously. We started playing all over the area. We would go as far as old Mr. Leleux's dance hall in Bayou Queue de Tortue. And for Dumas Herpin.  We brought so many people to Dumas' place that they climbed up on the little fence that they had put to protect the musicians from the crowd and they broke it. They came rolling in like balls. It was really funny to see.1 

Oh mon nèg', moi j'men vas aller, ce soir,
Moi j'connais pas ayou j'vas aller,
Moi j'crois pas arriver ayou t'es, eh.

Oh, je relate pas à mes parents, 
Pleure pas fille, où j'peux aller,
On dirait y a toujours quelqu'un qui m'fait de la misère pour rien.

Oh, mon nègre, donne-moi ton adresse,
Donne-moi j'suis capable d'écrite à toi, parce (que),
Parce (que) j'ai pas capable aller à ta maison,
Et ta mom et ton papa, veux pas de moi, j'vas ce soir.

Oh, j'ai arrivé à la maison,
Maman est assis dans son lit,
Qui est après pleurer rapport à moi,
Oh, maman, des mots mal faut pas dire ça, priez pour moi,
Moi j'ai été voir ma catin hier soir,
Elle m'a dit c'est plus la peine de me retour,
J'vas jamais retourner chez elle,
Parce sa maman m'a mis dehors.

Oh moi nèg, j'ai cru qu'elle-même m'aimait,
J'm'a aperçu que c'est pas vrai,
C'est ses parents qu'on fait tout ça.
Amede Ardoin

Recorded at the Texas Hotel in San Antonio, with Eli Oberstein directing, the 1934 Bluebird recording of "Sunset" (#2192) wasn't particularly influential however, it was a lively tune.  Most likely, the title was an ode to the small community of Sunset in south Louisiana.  The town is not far from many of the homes which Dennis and Amede played at.  
McGee recalls:
The people wanted to come to us.  We were making good music in those days. I sang well and played the fiddle well and Amede played and sang well too.  Joe Falcon came to dance to our music. And we'd play just us two, fiddle and accordion.1 
Ardoin's lyrics can be very difficult to understand.  In certain lines, he may be stating different things.   Instead of "le relate pas à mes parents, Pleure pas fille, où j'peux aller", it could be "ça m'fait d'la peine, mes parents, J'sais pas c'eyou j'peux aller", meaning "it hurts me and my parents, I don't know where I can go".

Oh, my friend, I'm leaving to go, tonight,

I don't know where you're going,

I don't think I can get to where you are, ehhh.

Oh, I'm not telling my parents,

Do not cry girl, everywhere I go,
It seems like there's always someone who's making life miserable for nothing.

Oh, my friend, give me your address,
Give it to me, I am able to write to you, because,
Because I'm not able to go back to your house,
Because of your mom and your dad do not want me, I'm leaving tonight.

Oh, I got home,
Mom is sitting the bed, who's crying about me,
Oh, mom, don't say these bad things, pray for me,
I went to see my sweet doll last night,
She told me it would be painful if I returned,
I'm never going back to her home,
Because her mom kicked me out.

Oh, I thought she, herself, loved me,
I'm realizing that it's not true,
It is those parents who've done all of this.

According to music producer, Christopher King, who produced the CD compilation "Mama, I'll Be Long Gone", he states:
That one recording "Sunset" is one of the most sublime pieces of music I've ever heard and it bring me out of any great depression.  It's pure pleasure.3

  1. Cajun and Creole Music Makers By Barry Jean Ancelet
  3.   Chris travels at 78 RPM: “Eargasims”– Episode 7.   Radio show.
  4. Lyrics by Stephanie D and Stephane F
CAJUN-Rare & Authentic (JSP, 2008)
Mama I'll Be Long Gone: The Complete Recordings of Amede Ardoin (Tompkins Square, 2011)

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