Tuesday, May 2, 2017

"La Vie Malheureuse" - Walker Brothers

Cajun accordionist Lawrence Walker became well known in the 1930s both in Louisiana and in Texas, specifically Dallas.  Walker's first encounter with travelling to Dallas would be for Brunswick records in 1929.  There, he and his brother, Joseph Elton, recorded two sides, one being "La Vie Malheureuse" (#381).  However, the music after 1930 began to change to the string sound.  Even  Walker's accordion finally succumbed to the flood of string bands during the late 1930s and early 40s.  

Tite fille, tu m'fais pitié de t'avoir après pleurer,

De t'voir après pleurer comme un pauve malheureuse, chère,

C'est moi, c'est moi la cause si ton cœur est si cassé,
Tite fille, prend-donc courage, prend pas donc ça si dur.

Tite fille, prend-donc courage puis vien toi avec moi,
Tite fille, mais, j'va t'soigner jusqua à l'jour de ta mort, chère,
Comment tu veux je fais, j'su'assez mais moi tour seul?
Tit fille, prend-donc courage, prend pas donc ça si dur.
Stephen Castille, Norris Mire,
Aldus "Popeye" Broussard
1936 Texas Centennial Tryouts

North Rayne Elementary 1,7

Folklorist Lauren Post gathered Lawrence for a Cajun music ensemble to be featured in that city.  Though Lawrence was not a "full-bred" Cajun, he spoke Cajun French well and put together a group to travel back to Dallas.4  In 1936, he was featured at the National Folk Festival in Dallas, Texas, accompanied by the Broussard Family Band.1,6  His band won rave reviews and came in first place.  It featured Aldus "Popeye" Broussard on fiddle, Sidney Broussard on fiddle, Junior Broussard on guitar, Norris Mire on accordion, and Evelyn Broussard on triangle and vocals.  Joining them was Elemore Sonnier, a solo vocalist from Scott.  These were the first appearances that brought Cajun music to the public's attention on a national level.1,3
Rayne Tribune
June 26, 1936

Over the years there were many other contests where he was challenged by the various other accordion players.  During these showdowns, the crowds were usually the judges.  Lawrence always won.  He was known far and wide as “King of the Accordion Players” at that time.  He was also quite well known for his great showmanship with his instrument.  It is said that he could completely captivate his audience in a way few accordion players ever have.5  

Little girl, you made me pitiful when I saw you crying,

Saw you crying like a poor unfortunate one, dear,

It's me, it's my fault if your heart is broken,
Little girl, have courage, don't take it so hard.

Little girl, have courage then come with me,
Little girl, well, I'll take care of you until your dying day, dear,
How will I handle this, I am sorry but I'm alone?
Little girl, have courage, don't take it so hard.

Despite his notoriety as a musician, Walker made the bulk of his living as a rice farmer until after World War II, when he returned to Louisiana and played in clubs throughout southern Texas with his band the Wandering Aces.2  By the early 1960s, Aldus Roger stepped into the J.D. Miller studio and took Walker's "La Vie Malheureuse", slowed it down into a waltz, and renamed it "La Valse De Misere".

  1. Cajun Dancehall Heyday by Ron Yule
  2. http://www.mtv.com/artists/lawrence-walker/
  3. The Encyclopedia of Country Music
  4. South to Louisiana: The Music of the Cajun Bayous By John Broven
  5. http://art-good-pic-co.50webs.com/lawrence-walker-king-of-the-accordion-players-844103.html
  6. http://www.flattownmusic.com/Lawrence-Walker.aspx
  7. NOTE: The photo shown in this article has been historically mistaken as a photo of the Breaux brothers.  This photo has been officially corrected in this blog.
Louisiana Cajun Music Volume 1: First Recordings - The 1920's (Old Timey, 1970)

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