Sunday, March 7, 2010

"Home Sweet Home" - Breaux Freres (Clifford, Ophy, Amédée)


Set Two: Social Music; Disc One; Track Twelve: "Home Sweet Home" performed by Breaux Freres (Clifford, Ophy, Amédée) . "Vocal solo with violin, accordion, guitar." Recorded in San Antonio, Texas on October 9, 1934. Original issue Vocalion 02961B (SA1173).

Born on September 1, 1900 near Rayne, Louisiana, Amédée Breaux was the son of August Breaux, an important early Cajun accordionist who - sadly - never recorded. All of August's children (in addition to Amédée there were Ophy, Clifford, and Cleoma) played instruments from an early age. Amédée began playing accordion at twelve and was performing at local house parties by the time he was fourteen. Ophy and Cleoma played guitar and Clifford played fiddle. As soon as the siblings were old enough, they were playing together as a performing unit.

On April 18, 1929, Amédée, Ophy and Cleoma Breaux made the first recording of the song "Jolie Blon" (recorded by the Breaux family as "Ma Blonde Est Partie"), a song that has become known as "the Cajun National Anthem" (on the very next day, Cleoma recorded "Acadian One Step" with her husband Joseph Falcon). Shortly after that recording session, Amédée formed Les Breaux Frères with brothers Ophy and Clifford.

In the fall of 1934, the Breux brothers traveled to San Antonio, Texas for a recording session for Vocalion where they cut several titles, including this version of "Home Sweet Home." Les Breaux Frères continued to record into the 1950s. Amédée died in 1975. The death dates of his two brothers are unrecorded.

"Home Sweet Home" was written in 1823 by Sir Henry Bishop and John Howard Payne, adapted from Payne's opera Clari, Maid of Milan. The song was immediately popular, gaining favor with soldiers on both sides of the American Civil War, as well as with President Abraham Lincoln and his wife. The following is the songs original lyrics:


'Mid pleasures and palaces though we may roam,
Be it ever so humble, there's no place like home;
A charm from the sky seems to hallow us there,
Which, seek through the world, is ne'er met with elsewhere.
Home, home, sweet, sweet home!
There's no place like home, oh, there's no place like home!

An exile from home, splendor dazzles in vain;
Oh, give me my lowly thatched cottage again!
The birds singing gayly, that come at my call --
Give me them -- and the peace of mind, dearer than all!
Home, home, sweet, sweet home!
There's no place like home, oh, there's no place like home!

I gaze on the moon as I tread the drear wild,
And feel that my mother now thinks of her child,
As she looks on that moon from our own cottage door
Thro' the woodbine, whose fragrance shall cheer me no more.
Home, home, sweet, sweet home!
There's no place like home, oh, there's no place like home!

How sweet 'tis to sit 'neath a fond father's smile,
And the caress of a mother to soothe and beguile!
Let others delight mid new pleasures to roam,
But give me, oh, give me, the pleasures of home.
Home, home, sweet, sweet home!
There's no place like home, oh, there's no place like home!

To thee I'll return, overburdened with care;
The heart's dearest solace will smile on me there;
No more from that cottage again will I roam;
Be it ever so humble, there's no place like home.
Home, home, sweet, sweet, home!
There's no place like home, oh, there's no place like home!


Reportedly, "Home Sweet Home" has become extremely popular in Japan where it is called "Hanyū no Yado" ("My Humble Cottage").

The version of the song recorded by Les Breaux Frères is performed on guitar, accordion and fiddle. Clifford Breaux is listed as the lead vocalist, with his brothers credited as additional vocalists. The song is sung in the Canjun dialect, and once again my High School French is not up to the task of attempting to translate or transcribe the French lyrics. I assume that the lyrics as sung by Clifford Breaux do not conform exactly to the English lyrics as written by Payne. It would certainly be interesting to see how much of Payne's lyrics made it into the version sung by Clifford Breaux. If anybody has any information to this end, please e-mail me at wheredeadvoicesgather1@gmail.com or leave a comment below.

In his notes, Smith points out that this version of the popular song is performed in waltz time, "a dance of much greater importance to the French speaking than to the English speaking rural population." He also notes that the "freedom with which the melody is treated" is "typical of Louisiana."

"Home Sweet Home" is the last of three Cajun songs in a row, all of which feature the accordion.

The Shameless Plug Department (Yeah, That): The fourth episode of the "Where Dead Voices Gather" podcast is still the most recent. It is my intention to do a fifth episode in the near future, although for the time being I am busy acting in the Capital Repertory Theatre production of To Kill A Mockingbird. As soon as I have more time, you can rest assured that I will do a new episode of the podcast. In the meantime, you can listen to this all-blues episode where you'll hear New Year's greetings from Lightin' Hopkins and Mary Harris, as well as Delta Blues by Son House, Willie Brown and Charlie Patton. You'll also hear recordings by more obscure figures like Geeshie Wiley, Blind Joe Reynolds, William Harris, and more. Also available on iTunes! Subscribe today so you don't miss a single episode. It's free and it doesn't hurt. Who can ask for more?

You can also become a fan of "Where Dead Voices Gather" on Facebook and follow us on Twitter. Where Dead Voices Gather: Using today's technology to promote yesterday's music!

As I said above, "Home Sweet Home" is popular in Japan. Here's Japanese banjo picker Tosaku performing an excellent version of "Home Sweet Home" in the Scruggs style of banjo picking.



Download and listen to Breaux Freres (Clifford, Ophy, Amédée) - "Home Sweet Home"

3 comments:

  1. I am Amedee Breaux's great great great granddaughter. My dad is Jimmy Breaux, Preston Breaux's son. My name is Megan Breaux.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I meant great great.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Did the Breaux Freres sing Home Sweet Home in French? What are the French lyrics if so? I would love to read them.

    ReplyDelete