When we lived in Elkins, West Virginia, the Augusta Festival was held each summer and one week would be set aside to feature Cajun music and artists. This is where I first experienced the Cajun/Creole/Zydeco rhythms, songs, and dances first hand and Jolie Blonde was performed on stage there by Michael Doucet. Dewey Balfa and other similar legendary artists would be featured each summer.
We moved from Elkins in 1986-87 and Augusta is robustly continuing to feature marvelous artists in their programming. Here is the Cajun/Creole program listing from this summer that was just completed.
And here is a recording by Michael Doucet / Aly Bain / Ricky Skaggs of Jolie Blonde….
Jolie Blonde (ay) où toi, te chere bebe?
Tu m’as dit, tu peut m’aimer
Mais quoi t’apres faire, jolie fille?
Tu connais mieux ouais puissant.
Quel avenir et quel espoir que m’avoir?
Jolie Blonde petite malheureuse bebe
Quoi tu fais, me aujourd’hui?
Tu connais j’aime pas juste toi dans le pays.
Laissez autres qui moi aimer.
Nearest English equivalent I can manage:
Pretty Blonde (ay) where are you, you dear baby?
You told me you can love me
But what you do after that, pretty girl?
You know much better yeah.
What future and what hope do I have?
Pretty Blonde, unhappy little baby,
What are you doing to me now?
You know I don’t love only you in the country.
Let me love others.
The words and translations to the Cajun recordings of Jole Blon, Jole Blonde, Jole Blond, Jolie Blon, Jolie Blonde and Jolie Blond. (The early Louisiana Cajun music recordings)
This is being compiled by Clarence, the webmaster for the “Cajun and Zydeco Radio Guide”.
This is located at www.cajunradio.org/earlysongs.html
about the song, words in French, words in English
Jole Blonde is often referred to as the Cajun national athem due to widespread popularity and due to the historical nature of the song.
The original 1928 Jolie Blonde version by Amadie, Ophy, Cleoma Breaux
The first recording of the song Jolie Blon “Ma Blonde Est Partie” (Jolie Blonde) was made in 1928 by Amadie Breaux (born 09/07/1900), his brother Ophy Breaux and his sister Cleoma Breaux. It was recorded on the Old-Timey Records label. The vinal record is titled “Louisiana Cajun Music Vol. 5 – The Early Years 1928-1938”. (Old-Timey Records 114)
I have a copy of the vinal record, but I don’t know if it is still available or if it has been put on cassette or CD. I would suggest calling “Floyd’s Record Shop” in Ville Platte, Louisiana to find out if it is available. (If you find out anything about availability, please email me and let me know). Floyd’s is the expert – they were the recording label for a lot of French music in Louisiana. You can link to Floyd’s from the “music retailers” section of the Cajun and Zydeco Radio Guide.
To get this original version of the song on CD, I suggest getting the CD called “Cajun Dance Party: Fais Do-Do” on the Columbia label # CK-46784. It has the original Jole Blonde 1928 version.
The 1935 Jole Blon version by Leo Soileau and the Hackberry Ramblers
Leo Soileau and his band the Hackberry Ramblers recorded a string band version of the song and called it La Valse De Guedan in 1935. Leo Soileau’s version of Jolie Blonde is also recorded on the Old-Timey Records label. The vinal record is titled “Louisiana Cajun Music Vol. 3 – The String Bands of the 1930’s. (Old-Timey Records 110). Leo Soileau also recorded under the name of Soileau & Robin on Louisiana Cajun Music Vol. 5 – The Early Years 1928-1938. (Old-Timey Records 114).
The 1946 Jole Blonde version by Harry Choates. Choates made 3 variations of the Jole Blonde recording. His most famous version was called “Jole Blon” and it was recorded in 1946. It was considered a big hit at the time. Harry Choates is the musician that was known for making Jole Blon as popular as it is today. (I have included a lot of info about Harry Choates further down this page.) Harry Choates version is on the Arhoolie label CD # 331 and Cassette # 331 that is titled “J’ai Été Au Bal, Vol. 1” (I Went to the Dance, Vol. 1).
The original 1928 Jolie Blonde version by Amadie, Ophy, Cleoma Breaux
Jolie blonde, regardez donc quoi t’as fait,
Tu m’as quitte pour t’en aller,
Pour T’en aller avec un autre, oui, que moi,
Quel espoir et quel avenir, mais, moi, je vais avoir?
Jolie blonde, tu m’as laisse, moi tout seul,
Pour t’en aller chez ta famille.
Si t’aurais pas ecoute tos les conseils de les autres
tu serait ici-t-avec moi aujourd ‘hui
Jolie blonde, tu croyais il y avait just toi,
Il y a pas just toi dans le pays pour moi aimer.
Je peux trouver just une autre jolie blonde,
Bon Dieu sait, moi, j’ai un tas.
Pretty blond, look at what you’ve done,
You left me to go away,
to go away with another, yes, than me,
What hope and what future am I going to have?
Pretty blond, you’ve left me all alone
To go back to your family.
If you had not listened to all the advice of the others
You would be here with me today.
Pretty blond, you thought there as just you,
There is not just you in the land to love me.
I can find another pretty blond,
Good God knows, I have a lot.
Since the Cajun musician Harry Choates was responsible for making the song as popular as it is today, I am including info about Harry below:
Cajun musician Harry Choates’s version
(by Craig Harris) Born Dec 26, 1922 in Rayne, LA. Died Jul 17, 1951 in Austin, TX. Harry Choates was not only one of the most influential musicians in the history of cajun music but one of its most tragic figures. A wild, imaginitive, fiddler, Choates wrote such classic tunes as the cajun national anthem, “Jole Blon” and popularized such songs as “Allons A Lafayette.” Recording for Gold Star, DeLuxe, D.O.T., Alklied, cajun Classics, Macy’s and Humming Bird, Choates introduced western swing, blues, jazz and country music to the two-steps and waltzes of southwest Louisiana’s bayous, influencing nearly every cajun musician who followed in his footsteps.
Born in either Rayne or New Iberia, Louisiana, Choates moved to Port Arthur, Texas, with his mother in the 1930s. Rather than going to school, Choates spent much of his childhood in bars and tavers, listening to honky tonk and blues records on the jukebox. By the age of twelve, Choates was playing fiddle in barbershops for tips.
Launching his professional music career in cajun bands led by Leo Soileau and Leroy “Happy Fats” LeBlanc, Choates formed his own group, The Melody Boys, in 1946. The same year, he rewrote the classic cajun tune, “Jolie Blone,” for his daughter, Linda, and recorded it for the Gold Star label. Although the tune became a country hit when covered by Aubrey “Moon” Mulligan, Choates had given up all rights to the song and received no further compensation for his composition. Choates and The Melody Boys continued to record at a prolific rate, releasing more than two dozen songs for Gold Star in 1946 and 1947. Adapting the western swing of Bob Wills And His Texas Playboys to cajun music, Choates became known as “the fiddle king of cajun swing”.
Although he performed with Jesse James And His Gang on radio station, KTBC, after the disbanding of the Melody Boys in 1951, Choates suffering ended a few months later. His grave was left unmarked until 1980 when money was raised for a gravestone with the bi-lingual inscription, “Purrain De La Musique cajun – The Godfather of cajun Music”
In the mid-1960s, cajun musician Rufus Thibodeaux was one of the first to pay homage to Choates’ influence when he recorded an album of Choates’ songs, A Tribute to Harry Choates.
Some American musicians also had popular versions of Jolie Blonde.
Roy Acuff’s (early American Country musician) version:
In the evening, in the shadows,
I’ll be waiting, in Louisi- an – a,
And when I hear your sweet voice,
I’ll rejoice, I’ll be happy,
And saving my kisses for you.
Jole Blon, cajun Angel,
Let me tell you how I love you,
In the springtime you promised,
That we would be married,
And I’m waiting, still waiting for you.
Oh – – ho – – ho, ah – – ha – – ha.
When your hair turns to silver,
I’ll still call you, Delta Flower,
Pretty Blond I still love you,
I love you I promise,
And I’m patiently waiting for you.
Oh – – ho – – ho, ah – – ha – – ha.
Bruce Springsteen’s (American Rock musician) version:
Jole Blon, you’re my flower
You’re my darling, you’re my sunshine
I love you, I adore you
I promise to be true
Over here in the shadows
I will be waiting, I will
When I hear you’re voice I rejoice
I save my love for you
Jole Blon, you’re an angel
Can I tell you how I love you?
In the spring I swear we will be married
I’m waiting still for you
When your hair turns to silver
I will still call you my flower
Jole Blon I’ll still love you
I’ll save my love for you
We will go away from this city
We will go back girl, to our home
I swear some day I will take you
‘Cause so far away we have roamed
And the bells they will ring
From the mountain to the valley
On the banks of the river
There you will be my bride
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jole Blon is a traditional cajun waltz, often called “the cajun national anthem” because of the popularity it had in cajun culture. The song was then later popularized on a nationwide scale by a series of renditions and references in late ’40s country songs. It has been the subject of occasional cover later in the 20th century by cajun and classic country revival bands. Becoming a part of the band’s repertoire in 1951, “Joli Blon” became the official fight song of McNeese State University in 1970, and it is played by the “Pride of McNeese” band upon scoring at athletic events.
The original cajun version is a brief address to a “pretty blonde” who had left the singer and moved back in with her family, and is also now in the arms of another man. The singer concludes that there are plenty of other pretty blonde women. The fiddle-based melody dates to before the 1900s.
The earliest recording of the song is believed to be a 1929 version by the family trio Breaux Brothers entitled “Ma blonde est partie”, recorded in Atlanta. There is some mystery to its origin. While Amede Breaux is credited with writing the song, it was his sister Cleoma who actually wrote the lyrics and Amede sang the song. Dennis McGee claims the original song was written by Angelas Lejeune as “La Fille De La Veuve (The Widows Daughter)” during WWI and Cleoma rewrote the lyrics, allegedly about Amede’s first wife. Lejeune and Ernest Fruge would eventually record this song on November 19, 1929 in New Orleans (Brunswick 558, Melotone M18052). In 1934, Alan Lomax traveled to Louisiana recording artists including the Segura Brothers and their version of “La Fille De La Veuve”. Eventually, in 1951, Amede Breaux would form the band Acadian Aces and record the song with the title “Jole Blonde” for J. D. “Jay” Miller’s Feature Records (F-1023).
In January 1929, John Bertrand and Milton Pitre would travel to Chicago and record “La Valse de Gueydan” for Paramount Records (12748A), using the same melody. It would appear again in a 1930 recording of “La Valse de Gueydan” (Brunswick 513) by Amade Ardoin. Here, he and Dennis McGee traveled to New Orleans and recorded this song discussing a “small young girl”. This version would be re-recorded with slightly different lyrics by Leo Soileau and his Three Aces. The title would be “La Valse Gueydan [Jolie Fille]”, recorded by Bluebird (B-2086) on January 18, 1935.
- La Valse de Gueydan by John Bertrand Listen (MP3)
The following year, the song would appear with the title “Jolie Blonde” for the first time on two records. Both the Hackberry Ramblers and J. B. Fuselier and his Merrymakers would travel to New Orleans and record the song on October 17, 1936 for Bluebird Records. J.B. Fuselier named the song “Te Ma Lessa Jolie Blonde” (Bluebird B-2006) and the Hackberry Ramblers simplified the name to “Jolie Blonde” (Bluebird B-2003).
By 1937, the melody was popular among very small regions of Louisiana. On Feb 21st, the Jolly Boys of Lafayette traveled to Dallas and recorded “Jolie (Brunette)” for Decca (#17032), a similar take on the song with different lyrics. Later in the year, Happy Fats traveled to New Orleans and recorded “Nouveau Grand Gueyan” for Bluebird (B-2024).