Saturday, June 10, 2017

"Aimer Et Perdre (To Love And Lose)" - Joe Falcon

Joe Falcon and Cleoma Breaux were the first authentic Cajun musicians from South-West Louisiana to record commercially. Guitarist and singer Cléoma is a major historic and pioneering figure in the evolution of South Louisiana music. The popularity of their recordings opened the door for further commercial recording of Cajun and Creole music. Columbia and its competitors were solely focused on making money in the vernacular/ethnic music market. Cultural preservation, obviously, was never a consideration for them. Nevertheless these corporations did function as defacto documentarians. They captured a snapshot in musical time – the transitional period when an isolated, self-contained community began interacting with mass communication, as recently created by the ascendance of two synergistic new industries: records, and radio broadcasting.5

In 1929, they recorded a love song called "Aimer Et Perdre (To Love And Lose)" for Columbia records (#40513).  Their Columbia years lasted until the Great Depression.   Afterwards, riding on their local fame, they performed and recorded, rather prolifically, until Cleoma's untimely death in 1941. Joe and many other Cajuns mourned her passing.The melody would influence Leo's accordion version "Ce Pas La Pienne Tu Pleur" and his later string band version "La Valse de la Rosa".  Later, it shows up in Nathan Abshire's "Cher Tit Monde".

Oh, cher 'tit monde, moi j't'aimais,

J't'ai perdu par roulailler les grands chemins,
Regarde donc voir quoi j'ai fait avec moi-même, cher,
Moi j'te regrette, jolie fille,
T'es mignonne oui pour moi,
Oui pour moi, mais t'oublier mais comme j'ai fait,
Regarde donc voir, cher, t'es mignonne
Oui, pour moi, joli coeur malheureux,
Et Bon Dieu ta belle figure que moi j'aime tant, cher,
Plutôt c'est moi, mais s'en aller,
J'vais parler avec ta maman.

Oh, cher 'tit monde, ah yé yaille,
Jongle à moi, malheureux,
Tu vas attraper ça t'as fait y' a pas longtemps, cher,
Oui, t'auras des regrets, tu vas voir toi t'en as.

Oh, tous les belles filles d'la Ville Platte, mais sont mignonnes,
Mais j'sais pas quoi y a avec eux,
Oh j'les sent' si vaillantes et si adorables,
Y en n'a pas un' qui veut de moi,
Moi j'sais pas si c'est moi,

Si c'est moi qu'est malchanceux dans la Ville Platte.

Cleoma Breaux and Joe Falcon
By Robert Crumb
According to record producer Chris King, the recording made him reconsider other Americana music at an early age:
It wasn't until high school that I had this discovery of a stack of 78s at my grandparents farm which contained almost a reflection of what I have in my own collection which is Washington Phillips, Blind Willie Johnson, but it also had "Aimer Et Perdre", this Cajun lost love song by Joe and Cleoma Falcon in there and it got me very interested in what music was outside of the American vernacular.4
There are loose similarities to Leo Soileau's Grand Mamou.   It creates a simultaneous feeling of joy and despair from the singular human emotion of love, and all the consequences that follow.2

Oh dear little world, I loved you,

I lost you by rambling along the highways,

Look what I have done with myself, dear,

I miss you, pretty girl,

You're cute for me, 

You're cute for me, but to forget you as I did,

Look, dear, you're cute,

Yes for me, unhappy sweetheart,

And Good Lord, your pretty face I love so much, dear,

Instead it's me who's going,

I'm going to talk to your mama.

Oh dear little world, ah yé yaille,
Think about me, unhappy one,
Before long, you're going to pay for what you did, dear,
Yes you will have regrets, you'll see, you will have some.

Oh all the pretty girls in Ville Platte are cute,
But I don't know what's the matter with them,
I feel they 're so nice and lovable
There's not one who wants me
I don't know if it's me,

If it's me who's unlucky in Ville Platte.

It's because of these early years of work done by Columbia and other labels we are given the chance to hear the Cajun music of the era.  Over the following years, other labels and projects remastered the music giving these songs new life.  In 2012, Chris King released a CD on Tompkins Square entitled "Aimer Et Perdre: To Love & To Lose Songs, 1917-1934".   In 2017, the duo was featured in the television film "American Epic".

  1. Aimer Et Perdre: To Love & To Lose Songs, 1917-1934.  Liner notes.
  4. Vinyl Asides Episode 8 - Christopher King

Louisiana Cajun Music Volume 1: First Recordings - The 1920's (Old Timey, 1970)
Cajun Vol. 1 Abbeville Breakdown 1929-1939 (Columbia, 1990)
Cajun Origins (Catfish, 2001)
Aimer Et Perdre: To Love & To Lose Songs, 1917-1934 (Tompkins Square, 2012)

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