Friday, September 22, 2017

"Saute Crapaud (Jump, Frog)" - Columbus Fruge

In September 1929, Moise Robin and Leo Soileau left the prairies of Cajun country to record again, this time with accordionist Columbus "Boy" Fruge in tow.  The three musicians traveled to Victor's Memphis, TN field session with the promise of $50 per record.1  

Fruge recorded four sides, including a solo performance of the popular folk song "Saute Crapaud (Jump, Frog)" (#22184), during which he accompanied himself by stomping on a wooden Coca-Cola crate.1  

The accordionist earned $100 for his services, and specifically asked for his fee to be paid in $1 bills.  Upon his return, Columbus' wife, who according to Robin did not understand money, stared in awe at the wad of cash, believing the sum to be an enormous fortune.1  

Saute crapaud!
Ta queue va brûler!
Mais, prends courage,
Elle va repousser.

Va y donc, crapaud!

L'hiver après prendre!

Saute crapaud!
Ta queue va brûler!
Mettre chère Pauline,
Une tasse de café.

Oh, crapaud,
Qui q'as fait ton gilet?
C'est Rose Martin,
La fille à maman.

It's an extremely old song in south Louisiana, with possible origins in Acadie or France. As a children's tune, many Cajun recall hearing the song sang by their parents for fun.  Others remember the song while attending grade school.   Today, if you ask the older generation about it, you'll hear the common response: "I remember my grandfather singing this song to me when I was little."  The lyrics, however, contain a double entendre, with the "tail" signifying the male sexual organ. According to Moise Robin:

Yes, me and "Boy" Fruge went to Memphis, Tennessee to make some records.  "Boy" had no musicians with him.  When we arrived there, he found a pop bottle case made of wood and turned it upside down and stomped on that for his drum effect while recording.  The first song he recorded was Saute, Crapaud.4

Crowley Daily Signal
Nov 23, 1929

Jump, frog,

Your tail will burn,

But take heart,

It will grow back.

So get going, frog.

It's winter, soon.

Jump, frog,
Your tail will burn,
Pour dear Pauline,
A cup of coffee.

Oh, frog.
Who has made your vest?
It is Rose Martin,
Mom's little girl.

  1. Cajun Breakdown: The Emergence of an American-Made Music By Ryan Andre Brasseaux
  4. Ye Yaille Chere by Raymond Francois
  5. Lyrics by Neal P


Anthology Of American Folk Music Volume Two: Social Music (Folkways, 1967)
Les Cajuns Best Of 2002 Les Triomphes De La Country Volume 12 (Habana, 2002)
Cajun Capers: Cajun Music 1928-1954 (Proper, 2005)
Cajun Country, Vol. 2, More Hits from the Swamp (JSP, 2005)
The Best Of Cajun & Zydeco (Not Now, 2010)
The Very Best of Cajun: La Stomp Creole, Vol. 1 (Viper, 2016)

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