Tuesday, May 16, 2017

"Frisco" - Cleoma Breaux

Singer and guitarist Cleoma Breaux is remembered today for two major contributions to Cajun music. First, she and spouse Joe Falcon were responsible for the first recording ever made of Cajun music. In New Orleans in 1928, the couple recorded the song "Allons à Lafayette" for Columbia. Second, she was one of very few women of her day to perform Cajun music on-stage. The setting of a dancehall was considered improper, and a strong chance existed that a woman who sang there would be seen as immoral. Breaux overcame the stigma, possibly due to the fact that she mounted the stage with a man -- her husband -- at her side.1   By 1936, the group consisted of her husband Joe Falcon playing the accordion and family friend Moise Morgan playing the fiddle. 

Oh jeune fille, vient mettre ta meilleure robe,

On va aller prendre après de toi pour s’en aller loin,

On va s’en aller si loin, si loin comme mon cœur,
Rappelle-toi ça je t’ai dit, on va s’en aller si loin.

C’est pas la peine que toi tu t’ennuies,
On va s’en aller, ouais, à la maison, ouais béb,
On va s’en aller à la maison pour longtemps, petite fille,
C’est pas la peine que toi tu t’ennuies, mais ouais, chère petite fille.

Hé petite fille, oublie-donc pas, ouais chère,
Ça t’as fait ouais, il y a pas longtemps, oui béb,
Tu connais je méritais, oh, pas tout ça tu m’as fait,
Oublie-donc pas ton pauvre vieux nègre, oh ye yaille, ouais, malheureuse.
Gulf Coast Lines (Frisco)

While it's unsure the reason she chose the name Frisco for the song, it's most likely an ode to the rail line that ran from New Orleans to Brownsville, Texas which included passing along present-day HWY 190.  Small branches fed to stations in Eunice, Crowley and Lafayette.  The Gulf Coast Lines were chartered as subsidiaries of the Frisco Railroad.  The system became independent in 1916 and was purchased by the Missouri Pacific Railroad in 1925.  

Oh young girl, just put on your best dress,

We're going to get you to get away,

We'll go so far, so far my sweetheart,
Remember that I told you, we'll go so far away.

It's not worth it, since you're bothered,
We're going to leave, yeh, to the house, yeh baby,
We're going to go home for a long time, little girl,
It's not worth it, since you're bothered, well yeh, dear little girl.

Hey little girl, do not forget, yeh dear,
That happened to you, not long ago, yeh baby,
You know I don't deserve all that you've done to me,
Do not forget your poor old man, oh ye yaille, yeh, oh my.
Frisco Depot
New Orleans, 1908

By the 1930s, Eunice, Crowley, and New Orleans all had Frisco rail depots.   It's quite possible Cleoma took this exact rail line to New Orleans that year to record this tune.  It could could easily have been on this railroad trip to the Decca session in which she wrote the lyrics to this song.

However, there's another probable origin to the song.   Frisco was also the name of a rough and tumble area south of a small town in Louisiana called Port Barre.   It was where dancehalls and saloons dotted the street and could easily have been a place where Joe and Cleoma played music.

  1. http://www.allmusic.com/artist/cleoma-breaux-falcon-mn0001301645
  2. Lyrics by Jordy A

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