Wednesday, May 15, 2019

"Vieux Airs (Old Tunes)" - Joe Falcon

"Your Kiss Is Sweet".   This vieux air, or "old tune", was one of many Cajun instrumentals passed down to the later generations of Cajun musicians.   Like the recording's flip-side, the song had it's origins in 19th century Cajun folk life. Musicians like Joe Falcon practiced their instruments using these songs during their early years. In fact, Joe recalls his very first paid opportunity:
I had just took my accordion when I left with my sister with the horse and buggy to go to the dance.  And when I got there, [Oneziphore Guidy’s] band didn’t show up. So he asked me, ‘How about you coming in and playing my dance? I’ll pay you. I said, ‘Oh, no. I just play like that, for fun.’  He said, ‘Come on. I ain’t go no music’. So I got up on the band stand and I started playing, and I played until twelve o’clock, and at twelve o’clock he come there and he paid me four dollars. Boy, I mean, I was glad with them four dollars.1  

Cleoma Breaux and Joe Falcon

By the summer of 1928, his recording "Lafayette" was on area record store shelves when he and Cleoma Breaux were requested to hop on a train to New York City where they recorded "Vieux Airs (Old Tunes)" for Columbia Records  (#15325).  Like many of the recordings Joe made, the titles were lost to time.  Columbia recording engineers insisted the songs have names.  Many times, Joe had to create a name on the spot, hence, "Vieux Airs".  In some cases, he was encouraged to name the song after a location he was familiar with back home.  During a later recording session, he explains he had to create his own lyrics to these melodies,

The number was there but I had to make up the words.  Like "Osson", it was the name of a little town, but you just have to find a name to put on the record.  It's an old two-step.2  

By the time they got back, the buzz about his recordings had reached fever pitch and he no longer needed to work in the fields.  The dance halls were now prime places to make a living and their music career had officially kicked off. The song didn't gain much traction between the 30s and 50s, until Joe Bonsall recorded it as "Ton Bec est Doux" in the 1960s.   Later recording artists have resurrected the song, but the added lyrics are more recent. 

  1. Lauren Chester Post Papers, Mss. 2854, Louisiana and Lower Mississippi. Valley Collections

Release Info:
W146906-1 Vieux Airs (Old Tunes) | Columbia 15325-D
W146909-2 La Marche De La Noce (Wedding Marche) | Columbia 15325-D

CAJUN-Rare & Authentic (JSP, 2008)

No comments:

Post a Comment

Got info? Pics? Feel free to submit.