Sunday, March 5, 2017

"Les Blues De Voyage" - Amede Ardoin & Dennis McGee

In 1934, the end of the Depressions kicked off a new wave of early Cajun recording sessions. Yet, almost all of these major labels had retired from making Cajun records except RCA Victor.   In order to capture the rural southern music market, they hired A&R man Eli Oberstein and began offering their new Bluebird label to stores featuring many of the artists previously recorded by Columbia/Okeh. In August 1934, Bluebird's sound engineers had summoned a variety of these regional folk musicians to the Texas Hotel in San Antonio, including Amede Ardoin and Dennis McGee.   One of these songs they record is "Les Blues De Voyage" (#2189).  It's a song covered by many Creole artists of the time including Bois Sec Ardoin and Canray Fontenot as "Blues du Voyageur".



O, tous mes parents veulent pas,

O, qui c'est je vas faire avec toi,

O, j'suis pas proche près partir,

O, c'est mon tout seul, 



Moi, tout seul,

Je sais pas quand jamais que je vas revenir,

O, toi, tu me fais de la misère,

Je vas pas venir te voir.


O, tous mes parents veulent pas,
O, que moi je vas chez toi,
O, c'est par rapport à toi,
Moi, je m'en vas,
N'importe éou je vas aller, catin,
Tous les autres veulent pas me voir,
Boy, j'ai pas d'argent,

O,cest mon tout seul, moi, tout seul, 
Je sais pas quand jamais que je vas revenir, 
O, toi, tu me fais de la misère, 
Je vas pas venir te voir, 
O, tous mes parents veulent pas, 

O, que moi je vas, chez toi, 
O, cest par rapport toi, 
Moi, je m'en vas, 
Nimporte ou je vas aller, catin, 
Tous les autres veulent pas me voir, 
Boy, jai pas dargent. 

O, toi, petite fille je m'en vas, 
O, dans la maison tout seul, 
O, cest pas la peine tu me fais tout,
A tas fait avec moi, 
Jai pas dargent, 
J'ai pas de maison pour aller, 
O, éou je vas rester? 

The phrase "Moi, je m'en vas" may seem redundant to the ears of standard French speakers.  However, Creoles commonly emphasized themselves in statements, almost by habit.  It seems odd to place the word "moi" before the statement starting with "je", however, even English speakers do the same.  It would be the equivalent of placing importance about one's self such as "I, myself, am leaving".

On all six of the tracks produced that day in San Antonio, there is a form of discrete yet primal percussion. It is a simple sound that was surely common in the performance of such music at social functions, but it had never before, or after, been captured on any of Ardoin's recordings.  It simply came from the rhythms of the accordionist deliberately tapping his foot, the most organic form of percussion.  The Texas session serves as a kind of symbolic harbinger of the role that percussive effects would take in the subsequent history of recorded black Creole music.1  Author Jared Snyder discusses this further: 
Eli Oberstein at the
Texas Hotel, 1935
(next to recording light)



Eli Oberstein, the A&R man for Bluebird and in charge of the recording session, chose not to damp the sound of Ardoin's foot tapping in time to the music.  It was a critical part of the performance and was something normally eliminated by recording on carpeted floor.2

Oberstein's unusual engineering decision produced a sonic document that replicates more accurately the way Creole music would have been performed and heard at social events.1  As musicians were preparing to record, Eli would setup a small microphone and a "recording light" lamp on the floor. This allowed musicians like Ardoin to know when to start and eventually when to stop playing.  



Oh, none of my relatives want anything to do with me,

Oh, what am I gonna do with you? 

Oh, I'm not nearly ready to leave,

Oh, it's me alone, 



Me, all alone,

I don't know if I'm ever gonna come back,

Oh, you cause me so much misery,

I'm not gonna come see you.


Oh, none of my relatives want anything to do with me,
Oh, I'm going home,
Oh, it's because of you,
Me, I'm going,
No matter where go, little doll,
No one else wishes to see me,
Boy! I have no money.

Oh, I'm all alone, on my own,
I do not know when I'll ever come back
Oh, you, you make me feel miserable,
I am going to come see you,
Oh, all my relatives want anything to do with me.

Oh, I'm going to your house,
Oh, it's because of you,
Me, I'm going,
No matter where go, little doll,
No one else wishes to see me,
Boy! I have no money.

Oh, you little girl, I'm going,
Oh, back to my house all alone,
Oh, it's no use for you to do anything,
All you've done to me,
I have no money,
I have no house to go to,
I have no work to help me stay,
Oh, where will I stay?




  1. Texas Zydeco By Roger Wood
  2. Southeast Texas: Hot House of Zydeco by R. Wood.  Jared Synder
  3. Image by Russ S

Find:
Cajun Louisiane 1928-1939 (Fremeaux, 2003)

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