Tuesday, June 15, 2010

"Le Vieux Soulard Et Sa Femme (The Old Drunkard and his Wife)" - Clemo Breaux and Joseph Falcon


Set Three: Songs; Disc One; Track Twelve: "Le Vieux Soulard Et La Femme (The Old Drunkard and his Wife)" performed by Clemo (Cléoma) Breaux and Joseph Falcon. "Vocal solo and talking with accordion, guitar." Recorded in New York on August 27, 1928. Original issue Columbia 14301D(146908).

Cléoma Breaux was born on May 27, 1906 in Crowley, Louisiana. She was born into a musical family. Her father was August Breaux, an important early Cajun accordionist. Her three brothers, Amédée, Clifford, and Ophy, were also musicians who recorded together as Les Breaux Freres. Their recording of "Home Sweet Home" appears on volume two of the Anthology. Cléoma recorded often with her brothers, including "Ma Blonde Est Partie," the very first recording of "La Jolie Blonde," often called "the Cajun National Anthem."

She is often considered to be the first important female Cajun musician and was highly influential as both a vocalist and as a guitarist. She was the first woman to be inducted into the Cajun Music Hall of Fame.

In 1928, Breaux married Joseph Falcon with whom she performed and recorded until 1940, when an automobile accident put an end to her career.

On August 27, 1928, Breaux and Falcon recorded this version of "Le Vieux Soulard Et Sa Femme" at a session for Columbia records in New York City.

Breaux died on April 4, 1941 from the injuries sustained in the car accident the previous year.

"Le Vieux Soulard Et Sa Femme" is a humorous song about a drunkard and his wife.

You-c-que t'es parti?
Dis mon bon vieux mari,
Et you que t'es parti
Toi qui vieux fair ma mort?
Et you que t'es parti
Dis mon bon vieux mari
Qu'il est l'meilleur buveur du pays?

J'suis parti au cafe!

Quoi t'es parti faire?
Dis mon bon vieux mari,
Et quoi t'es parti faire
Toi qui vieux fair ma mort?
Et quoi t'es parti faire
Dis mon bon vieux mari
Qu'il est l'meilleur buveur du pays?

J'suis parti m'saouler!

Quand tu t'en reviens?
Dis mon bon vieux mari,
Et quand tu t'en reviens
Toi qui vieux fair ma mort?
Et quand tu t'en reviens
Dis mon bon vieux mari
Qu'il est l'meilleur buveur du pays?

Oh d'main ou aut'jour!

Quoi to veux j'fais cuire?
Dis mon bon vieux mari,
Et quoi to veux j'fais cuire
Toi qui vieux fair ma mort?
Et quoi to veux j'fais cuire
Dis mon bon vieux mari
Qu'il est l'meilleur buveur du pays?

Cuis moi cinq douzaines d'oeufs,
puis un gallon d'couscous!

Ca, ca va te tuer.
Dis mon bon vieux mari,
Ca, ca va te tuer
Toi qui vieux fair ma mort.
Ca, ca va te tuer
Dis mon bon vieux mari
Qu'il est l'meilleur buveur du pays.

Oh, c'est pas qu'j'veux mourir quand meme.

Et you qu'tu veux qu'j'enterre?
Dis mon bon vieux mari,
Et you qu'tu veux qu'j'enterre
Toi qui vieux fair ma mort?
Et you qu'tu veux qu'j'enterre
Dis mon bon vieux mari
Qu'il est l'meilleur buveur du pays?

Enterr' mois dains l'coin d'la ch'minee;
tu l'eteins un peu avant, autrement, elle va
et'chaude!

Where are you going?
My good husband.
Where are you going,
You, who'll be the death of me?
Where are you going, my good old man,
The biggest drunk in the countryside?

I'm going to the cafe!

What are you going to do there?
My good husband.
What are you going to do there,
You, who'll be the death of me?
What are you going to do there, my good old man,
The biggest drunk in the countryside?

I'm gonna get drunk!

When will you come back?
My good husband.
When will you come back,
You, who'll be the death of me?
When will you come back, my good old man,
The biggest drunk in the countryside?

Oh, tomorrow or another day!

What do you want me to cook for you?
My good husband.
What do you want me to cook for you,
You, who'll be the death of me?
What do you want me to cook for you, my good old man,
The biggest drunk in the countryside?

Cook me five dozen eggs and a gallon
of couscous!

What, that'll kill you!
My good husband.
What, that'll kill you,
You, who'll be the death of me!
What, that'll kill you, my good old man,
The biggest drunk in the countryside!

Well, maybe I want to die anyway!

Then where do you want me to bury you?
My good husband.
Then where do you want me to bury you,
You, who'll be the death of me?
Then where do you want me to bury you, my good old man,
The biggest drunk in the countryside?

Bury me in the chimney corner, but put it out
a little before or it'll be hot!


"Le Vieux Soulard Et Sa Femme" is another comic dialogue sung between a man and a woman. The part of the wife is sung by Cléoma Breaux, who also plays guitar on this recording. The part of the husband is spoken rather than sung, and is performed by Joe Falcon who also plays the accordion. The music is jaunty, as befits a humorous piece. The subject matter takes us all the way back to disc one and "Drunkard's Special," another comic song about a drunk man and his wife. Of course, the wife in "Drunkard's Special" is deceitful, while the wife in "Le Vieux Soulard Et Sa Femme" is depicted as long suffering, but ultimately supportive.

The husband in the song requests that his wife give him "a gallon of couscous." I'm not sure what "couscous" is in this context, but I suspect that it is not the Moroccan pasta dish...

It is curious that Smith opted to place this song after "Single Girl, Married Girl" rather than the two male-female dialogues recorded by Ernest and Hattie Stoneman. Undoubtedly, Smith chose to place this song in sequence with "Single Girl, Married Girl" as both songs depict a pessimistic view of marriage (and depict long-suffering wives). It is also possible that Smith wanted to draw a parallel between Cléoma Breaux (known for her contributions to Cajun music as a guitarist) and Maybelle Carter (who holds a similar place in country music).

This song represents the second appearance of Breaux and Falcon on the Anthology. It is the second Cajun song to appear on this volume and the sixth to appear on the Anthology overall.

The transcription of this song was by Alain Papeneuau and appeared in the book The Anthology of American Folk Music edited by Josh Dunson and Ethel Raim.

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I would like to announce that beginning May 9, 2010, I will be hosting "Doin' The Thing," a weekly jazz program on KRML 1410 AM and 94.7 FM in Carmel, California. The show airs from 8 PM to 10PM (Pacific Time) on Sunday nights. You can also listen online by visiting the KRML website at 8 PM Pacific, 11 PM Eastern Time. Please tune in and give me feedback!

Here's a short video on Cléoma Breaux and Joe Falcon that features a couple of her nieces, at least one of whom performed with her!



Download and listen to Cléoma Breaux and Joseph Falcon - "Le Vieux Soulard Et Sa Femme (The Old Drunkard and his Wife)"

2 comments:

  1. It's not cous cous but coushe coushe (couche couche?), which is a dish made of fried cornmeal served with hot milk like a cereal.

    ReplyDelete