Friday, March 10, 2017

"Rayne Special" - Joe Falcon

Joe Falcon grew up in the prairies north of Rayne, Louisiana.  Rayne is a town seated between Crowley and Lafayette in south Louisiana.  It was known for it's large frog exporting industry in the first half of the 20th century.  Growing up there, he learns to play the accordion as a child:

When I was seven years old, we begged our daddy to go to Lafayette. First we begged him to get us an accordion.  We couldn't play it in the house so we went to the barn and started playing it in the barn.4  

Most of his childhood involved helping his father and his uncles farm sugarcane.   Sugar syrup mills in the area were big business.

John Falcon, Abel and also my daddy, Pierre Falcon.  They all had syrup mills.  They all raised sugar cane.4  

Dis, mon neg, dis donc quand même, 

Mais, cher tit nèg mais, malheureux. 

Dis jamais, mais toi mon neg, 

Tu connais mais, moi je m’en vas. 

Comment j'vas faire, mais, toi mon neg, 

Comment j'vas faire, mais oui, mon neg, 
Tu connais, cher tit nèg, 
Dis pas ça à ton cher vieux nég.

Moi j’espère, oui mon nèg, 
Tu connais bien mais malheureuse, 
Si jamais, oui mon nèg, 
Si jamais, z-as toi de faire. 

Faudra que j’men vas, mais oui mon nèg, 
Faudra que j’men vas, mais tu connais, 
Oui mon nèg, mais, ça c’est dur,
Pour moi partir mais tout seul.
Cleoma Breaux and Joe Falcon

In Joe's song, clearly the love interest is no longer interested; declining his offer for either a hand in marriage or just plane uninterested. Rayne was a rural farm community, originally called Pouppeville.  Shortly after the Civil War, French immigrant Monsieur Jules Pouppe established a small mercantile store adjacent to the stagecoach line “exchange station” on the long-established Old Spanish Trail (OST) which trekked westward from New Orleans across the great prairie of SW Louisiana into Texas.1  However, since he realized the town was too far south, he used oxen to move the houses and buildings near present-day Rayne.   The Louisiana Western Railroad built the Rayne station in 1880 and three years later, named it after the railroad engineer who laid the track, B.W.L. Rayne.2  

They left the winter of 1934 to record in New York City where they waxed the "Rayne Special" (#17006) for Decca records. By 1936, Joe and his wife Cleoma had left Rayne, settled in Crowley and were playing music across south Louisiana.  The following year, Joe re-recorded the tune, changing the melody slightly and the title to "Louisiana Special" (#17038).   The duo remained living in Crowley, mainly because Cleoma preferred the city life rather than Joe's meager rural homestead area of north Rayne.   However, it didn't stop him from trying to raise a small farm in the backyard of their Crowley home.   For Joe, Rayne would always be considered his home. 

Said it, my friend, said it nonetheless,

Well, my dear little friend, well, oh my,

You shouldn't have said that, well, my friend,

You know, well, I'm going.

How will I do this, well, you, my friend,

How will I do this, well, yeh, my friend,
You know, my dear little friend,
Don't say that to your dear old man.

I'm waiting, yes, my friend,
You understand well, well oh my,
If you ever, yeh my friend,
If you ever have to go through this.

I'll have to go, well yeh, my friend,
I'll have to go, well, you know,
Yes, my friend, well, it's hard,
For me to leave all alone. 

By the start of WWII, Decca changed their label from the "sunburst" blue to what's referred to as the "cursive" black based on the logo and color change.  Records produced during the war (from either shellac sources bought openly on the market or from shellac reserve) had a scripted logo colored in black and gold lettering.3

  4. Lauren Chester Post Papers, Mss. 2854, Louisiana and Lower Mississippi
  5. Lyrics by Stephane F


Cajun: Rare & Authentic (JSP, 2008)
Cajun Music, The Pretty Girls Don't Want Me (Firefly, 2012)
Cajun Swamp Stomp, Vol 1 (Lumi, 2012)
The Very Best of Cajun: La Stomp Creole, Vol. 1 (Viper, 2016)

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