Tuesday, July 25, 2017

"Lanse Des Belaire" - Dennis McGee & Ernest Fruge

Much of Cajun before 1928 has been lost to time.  Until the first recordings, most of the old tunes were passed down orally and musicians would train each other on the old ballads they could remember.  Dennis Mcgee and Ernest Fruge' used their memories of these songs and recorded them during a session in New Orleans.  In late 1930, Brunswick became one of the last major labels to record Cajun music before the Depression took hold of record sales; releasing the song "Lanse Des Belaire" (#557).  It's as close as we are ever likely to get to the fiddle music heard before the accordion became prominent.

Bye bye cher tit monde pour toujours de mes jours,

J’m’en irai a la maison mon tout seul mon, jolie coeur.

Gardez donc mais ca t’as fait avec moi, joli coeur,

Malheureuse rappelle toi ca t’as fait avec moi, chere.

Rappelle toi ma cherie j’m’assisais mais dans le fenetre,
D’ma cuisine pour te voir passer, aussi bien.

J’ai coupe de la branche de mon murier, chere,
Pour te voir passer, chere, quand toi t’es parti.

Malheureuse chaque fois chere tu m’as fait rever a toi,
Déjà, j’le prends dur de t’voir, jolie coeur.

Tu connais le bon Dieu va t’punir pour tou ca,
Tu m’as fait faire, cherie malheureuse, chere tit black*.

Malheureuse, tu devrais pas faire mais tout ca,
Jolie tit blacko*, tu m’as tourne l’dos.

Dennis McGee
The Cajun french word l'anse can mean cove or a "bend in the river" or "bend in the tree line".  Belaire is a small Cajun village outside of Ville Platte, Louisiana. It consisted of a few small farms on either side of a winding dirt road that snaked across a wide prairie. Belaire Cove was a place where families and friends relied upon each other for survival; a place where everyone knew everything there was to know about one another. 

Bye bye, dear little everything, forever,

I'm going to my home all alone, my pretty sweetheart,

Listen up, well, what you've done to me, pretty sweetheart,
Oh my, remember what that you've done to me, dear.

Remember, my dear, I used to sit, well, by the window,
From my kitchen, I would see you pass by, as well.

I cut the branch of my mulberry tree, dear,
To see you pass by, dear, when you, yourself, left.

Oh my, everytime, dear, you make me dream of you,
I'm already taking this hard, seeing you, pretty sweetheart.

You know the good Lord will punish you for that,
You made me that way, dear, unfortunately, dear little dark girl.

Oh my, you should not have done all that,
Pretty little dark girl, you turned your back on me.

Dennis' use of the word "black" could either be mistaken for a different word or it could be another common example of Dennis mixing English with French.  "Chere 'tit noir" rarely refers to a black girl but more along the lines of a dark-haired beauty, similar to the same context as "jolie blonde".   Brunswick mistakenly lists the song containing an "accordion", however, Fruge', neighbor and friend, accompanies Dennis' vocals and fiddle playing creating a unique blend.  It would later influence Iry Lejeune's "Waltz Of The Mulberry Limb". 

  1. Eunice By Alma Brunson Reed
  2. Country Music Originals : The Legends and the Lost: The Legends and the Lost By Tony Russell
  3. http://www.knowla.org/entry/1683/
  4. http://www.lulu.com/us/en/shop/dianne-dempsey-legnon/belair-cove-a-novel-of-life-love-and-loss-in-a-prairie-cajun-village/paperback/product-18904574.html
  5. Photo by James P
  6. Lyrics by 'meloderon'
The Early Recordings Of Dennis McGee: Featuring Sady Courville & Ernest Fruge (Morning Star, 1977)
Dennis McGee ‎– The Complete Early Recordings (Yazoo, 2006)

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