Wednesday, October 10, 2018

"La Cravat" - Happy, Doc And The Boys

Before the war, Leroy "Happy Fats" Leblanc had a successful recording and radio career, employing many musicians throughout the 1940s.  His KVOL audience would tune into his show where he featured local musicians.  Many of these same musicians would accompany him at the  annual International Rice Festival in Crowley including vocalist Louis Noel. By the late 1940s, record producer J.D. Miller enticed Happy to record for him.  Miller went to Cosimo Matassa's fledgling J&M Recording studio in New Orleans between 1946 and 1949 and recorded singer Happy Fats with fiddler Doc Guidry and singer Louis Noel.   He spoke to author John Broven more specifically later in life:
So I called Cosimo and scheduled a session over there to cut three records, six sides.  So we go over there; we cut "Colinda" by Happy Fats and Doc Guidry, we cut "La Cravat" by Louis Noel, and a country thing.3
Crowley Daily Signal
Oct 13, 1949

Si j’aurais mes souliers,
C’est ma 'mie qui m’a donné,
Si j’aurais mes souliers,
C’est ma 'mie qui m’a donné,
Mes souliers sont ronds,
Ma 'mie, j’aimais tant,
Ma 'mie, j’aimais tant.

Si j’aurais mes beaux bas,
C’est ma 'mie qui m’a donné,
Si j’aurais mes beaux bas,
C’est ma 'mie qui m’a donné,
Mes beaux bas à sentiment,
Mes souliers sont ronds,
Ma 'mie, j’aimerais tant,
Ma 'mie, j’aimerais tant.

Si j’aurais mes jarretières,
C’est ma 'mie qui m’a donné,
Si j’aurais mes jarretières,
C’est ma 'mie qui m’a donné,
Mes jarretières sont entières,
Mes beaux bas à sentiment,
Mes souliers sont ronds,
Ma 'mie, j’aimerais tant,
Ma 'mie, j’aimerais tant.

Si j’aurais ma culotte,
C’est ma 'mie qui m’a donné,
Si j’aurais ma culotte,
C’est ma 'mie qui m’a donné,
Ma culotte à courte botte,
Mes jarretières sont entières,
Mes beaux bas à sentiment,
Mes souliers sont ronds,
Ma 'mie, j’aimerais tant,
Ma 'mie, j’aimerais tant.

Si j’aurais ma chemise,
C’est ma 'mie qui m’a donné,
Si j’aurais ma chemise,
C’est ma 'mie qui m’a donné,
Ma chemise à courte fine,
Ma culotte à courte botte,
Mes jarretières sont entières,
Mes beaux bas à sentiment,
Mes souliers sont ronds,
Ma 'mie, j’aimerais tant,
Ma 'mie, j’aimerais tant.

Si j’aurais ma cravate,
C’est ma 'mie qui m’a donné,
Si j’aurais ma cravate,
C’est ma 'mie qui m’a donné,
Ma cravate à zig et zag,
Et bien bouclée dedans mon cou,
Ma chemise à courte fine,
Ma culotte à courte botte,
Mes jarretières sont entières,
Mes beaux bas à sentiment,
Mes souliers sont ronds,
Ma 'mie, j’aimerais tant,
Ma 'mie, j’aimerais tant.

Si j’aurais mon chapeau,
C’est ma 'mie qui m’a donné,
Si j’aurais mon chapeau,
C’est ma 'mie qui m’a donné,
Mon chapeau est sur me tete,
Ma cravate à zig et zag,
Et bien bouclée dedans mon cou,
Ma chemise à courte fine,
Ma culotte à courte botte,
Mes jarretières sont entières,
Mes beaux bas à sentiment,
Mes souliers sont ronds,
Ma 'mie, j’aimerais tant,
Ma 'mie, j’aimerais tant.

Opelousas Daily World
May 20, 1949


"The country thing" happened to be some songs by Al Terry. It took quite some time before the records arrived from California pressing plants however, he recalls:
I sent the masters off to the West Coast to be pressed, that of course, was 78s, and when I got them back, I was so proud you wouldn't believe.1,2,3
He released his very first Cajun-country record as "La Cravat" (#1000), a children's nursery rhyme from possibly the 17th century, that was passed down orally until the Acadians brought the song to Louisiana. In the 1970s, Marie Pellerin recorded the song for folklorist Dr. Barry Ancelet. This is an old favorite that many older Cajuns remember fondly from their childhoods. It’s a cumulative song about all the clothes the narrator’s sweetheart has given him, including the zig-zag tie of the title.  To this day, the older Cajun folk can still recall their parents and their grand-parents singing this song to them as children.   Louis' daughter recalls:
La Cravat was taught to him by his grandparents.  The song had been handed down from one generation to the next.4

KSLO 1949
Felton Hargroder, Louis Noel, Rita Noel,
Floyd Cormier (MC), Jack Ricahrd


If only I had my shoes,

That my sweetheart gave to me,

If only I had my shoes,

That my sweetheart gave to me,

My shoes are round,

My dear, how I would like that,

My dear, how I would like that.

If only I had my pretty socks,
That my sweetheart gave to me,
If only I had my pretty socks,
That my sweetheart gave to me,
My favorite pretty socks,
My shoes are round,
My dear, how I would like that,
My dear, how I would like that.

If only I had my garters,
That my sweetheart gave to me,
If only I had my garters,
That my sweetheart gave to me,
My garters are whole,
My favorite pretty socks,
My shoes are round,
My dear, how I would like that,
My dear, how I would like that.

If only I had my pants, 
That my sweetheart gave to me,
If only I had my pants, 
That my sweetheart gave to me,
My short knee pants,
My garters are whole,
My favorite pretty socks,
My shoes are round,
My dear, how I would like that,
My dear, how I would like that.

If only I had my shirt,
That my sweetheart gave to me,
If only I had my shirt,
That my sweetheart gave to me,
My fine woven shirt,
My short knee pants,
My garters are whole,
My favorite pretty socks,
My shoes are round,
My dear, how I would like that,
My dear, how I would like that.

If only I had my tie,
That my sweetheart gave to me,
If only I had my tie,
That my sweetheart gave to me,
My zig-zag tie,
Well knotted around my neck,
My fine woven shirt,
My short knee pants,
My garters are whole,
My favorite pretty socks,
My shoes are round,
My dear, how I would like that,
My dear, how I would like that.

If only I had my hat,
That my sweetheart gave to me,
If only I had my hat,
That my sweetheart gave to me,
My hat upon my head,
My zig-zag tie,
Well knotted around my neck,
My fine woven shirt,
My short knee pants,
My garters are whole,
My favorite pretty socks,
My shoes are round,
My dear, how I would like that,
My dear, how I would like that.
Opelousas Daily World
Sep 15, 1950



However, having seen Cosimo's studio, Miller soon got the idea that it would be faster, cheaper and more interesting to put in his own recording studio.1  From then on, his new Feature Records would be recorded in his hometown of Crowley, Louisiana.  Miller's early releases had the letter 'F' in the number to signify a French recording, specifically Cajun French, while the letter 'E' signified and English recording, specifically a country song.   Therefore, Miller's early pressings contain multiple uses of numbers.

By February of 1949, Louis took a chance at an amateur talent show winning first prize.  His talents scored him a place on the radio show listings for KSLO.   There, he performed classic country tunes and his own recordings, billed as the "Ernest Tubbs of Louisiana".5  By 1950, he formed a full band playing in dance halls with the Teche Troubadors. 





  1. Slim Harpo: Blues King Bee of Baton Rouge By Martin Hawkins
  2. South to Louisiana: The Music of the Cajun Bayous By John Broven
  3. Record Makers and Breakers: Voices of the Independent Rock 'n' Roll Pioneers By John Broven
  4. Discussions with Karl W
  5. Opelousas World.  Mar 1949.
Find:
Acadian All Star Special - The Pioneering Cajun Recordings Of J.D. Miller (Bear, 2011)

4 comments:

  1. CAN I BUY A COPY OF LA CRAVAT? I WOULD LOVE TO HAVE A COPY. MY FRIEND SINGS THIS AND I ALWAYS REQUEST IT.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. A copy of the song in the article can be found in the 3-CD set called "Acadian All Star Special - The Pioneering Cajun Recordings Of J.D. Miller (Bear, 2011)" It's available at Amazon.com, Walmart.com, and Barnesandnoble.com

      Delete
  2. Thank you for this post, brought back many memories for me. I am proud to say Louis Noel was my grandpa. Thanks again, Kevin Noel.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Thanks for the post! Proud to say Louis Noel was my grandpa. Regards, Kevin Noel.

    ReplyDelete

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