As I get nearer to the end of this Fiddle Tune a Day Journey, there are some fiddle tunes that I want to make sure that I get in before the year is up. Many of these tunes define a style of fiddling.
Jole Blon (or Jolie Blon) is one of these tunes. To me, Jole Blon is one of the definitive Cajun fiddle tunes. It’s a catchy tune with a beautiful melody, and I can just hear Doug Kershaw singing it when I hear it (or play it) on the fiddle.
Jole Blon according to Wikipedia
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.
Cajun traditional song
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 other women, and pretty blonde women out there that he can find.
The earliest recording of the song is believed to be a 1928 version by the Atlanta, Georgia family trio Breaux Freres titled “Ma blonde est partie”.
During the late 40s, as country’s nationwide market had solidified, a number of country artists popularized the song Jole Blon.
The song was originally popularized by Harry Choates, considered to be the “godfather” of modern cajun music, in a recording created in 1946. As is not infrequent in country music, once a song is popularized, several other contemporaries covered it. In this case, it was common for the covers to be not so much reproductions as they were songs in the same spirit, making use of the same subject, melody, or cajun theme. Several of them used “Jole Blon” as the name of subject of the song, instead of using the original meaning of ‘pretty blonde.’
Many of the covers included self-referential humor in regard to the production context of the song. A popular rendition, first published by Moon Mullican (and Moon Mullican’s first major hit), consists of a purposeful mix of unrelated English, French, and nonsense words: a joke attempt at “translation” of the original. Johnny Bond’s “The Daughter of Jole Blon” exemplifies this contextual humor, describing the titular character as “so round, so firm, so fully packed” (itself the title of a popular country song at the time), and “Jole’s only daughter… but she knows all the tricks that Jole taught her.”
The following contemporary artists’ renditions or songs which make reference to Jole Blon. Listed next to each song is if, and the year when, that version reached the Billboard 100 for country at the time (The country billboard charts began in 1946).
Donald L. Diehl says
Wow, Do you have some pointers on how to get that bowing down. Of all the fiddle pieces I would really like to do well is Jole Blon. I can play the notes and tab but I can't seem to get the meter down.
Lew Holt says
Vi – glad you had Joel Blon. Like Donald I can play it by notes but listening to.
you will help me get the "Cajun feel." I enjoyed meeting you at Weiser this year.
Katie Kirk says
Thanks, Lew. This young fellow can really play!
Alma Reitan says
thank you so much for sharing this tune.
My earliest fiddle inspirations were Hank Williams tunes such as “Jambalaya” and Jole Blon takes me back to those roots. I started out trying to play Cajun fiddle style double stops (still trying). Love that sound.
Vi Wickam says
Cajun really is a fun sound. I have fond memories of Doug Kershaw from when I was a kid. Ayyyyiiii!
Michael Friedman says
Lovely musical performance !