Tuesday, November 14, 2017

"Si Vous Moi Voudrez Ame (If You'd Only Love Me)" - Leo Soileau

Leo Soileau was one of the first Cajuns to incorporate elements of commercial country music into Cajun music.2  Formed in 1934, Leo Soileau's Three Aces--although there were never less than four musicians--soon shot to the forefront of this embryo "Cajun country" movement.  Apart from the Cajun tradition, their major inspiration came from western swing, a cheerful, spirited amalgam of swing, blues, ragtime, and fiddle music that originated in Texas.1  

Tu m’as dit, jolie fille, tu p’us, mais chère,

Tu pouvais pas p’us m’aimer, chère,

Pourquoi donc, mais tu fais ça à ton vieux neg, chérie?

Tu vas me faire (mourir??), jolie.

Tu m’as dit jolie fille, tu pouvais p’us m’aimer,
Toi, maman, quoi faire t’as fait ça, chérie?

Tu m’as dit, jolie fille, pourquoi-donc, chérie,
Tu fais ça avec ton neg, chérie,
Tu m’as dit, joli cœur, que tu peux p’us m’aimer, chère.

Ohh, toi, ‘tit monde, jolie fille, criminelle,
Haa, toi ‘tite fille, ohhh, bébé.
Rayne Tribune
Dec 10, 1937

He learned to play fiddle from his father at around the age of 12 and was inspired by other local Cajun musicians such as Dennis McGee.3   
I'd steal his fiddle from under the bed and when I'd break a string, I'd get a whipping.  That's for sure!3

In early 1935, Soileau's string band, without an accordionist, but with the first drummer to play on Cajun sessions, made popular recordings such as "Si Vous Moi Voudrez Ame (If You'd Only Love Me)" (#4880 & #2194) which Bluebird co-issued on Montgomery Ward's label.  His Three Aces were composed of Floyd Shreve on guitar, Bill (Dewey) Landry on guitar, and Tony Gonzales on drums.  The smooth, rhythmic music was in sharp contrast to the raw folk sound of Joseph Falcon's performances.   However, "Voudrez" was eclipsed by the more popular tune on the flipside, "Le Gran Mamou". 

You told me, pretty girl, you could, well dear,

You couldn't love me anymore, dear,

Why then, well, did you do that to your old man, darling?

You are going to make me an old man, dear.

You told me pretty girl, you could love me,
You, little momma, why did you do that, darling?

You told me, pretty girl, why so, darling?
You did that to your man, darling,
You tole me, pretty sweetheart, that you could love me, dear.

Oh, you little everything, pretty girl, it's terrible,
Ha, you little girl, oh baby.
Leo Soileau and the Three Aces
Floyd Shreve, Tony Gonzales, 
Leo Soileau, and Dewey Landry

By  late 1935, he renamed his band to the Four Aces and signed with Decca, which had already signed Joseph Falcon and Amade Ardoin.  Working with a completely different company, many unaware of his previous recordings, he used the opportunity with Deccas to re-record the song in 1937.   His swinging tune became more well known as "La Blues de Port Arthur".  

  1. South to Louisiana: The Music of the Cajun Bayous By John Broven
  2. The Encyclopedia of Country Music
  3. http://arhoolie.org/leo-soileau-interview/
  4. Lyrics by Jordy A
Raise Your Window: A Cajun Music Anthology 1928 - 1941 (The Historic Victor-Bluebird Sessions Vol. 2) (CMF, 1993)
Cajun Early Recordings (JSP, 2004)

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