Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Et Je Suis Rentré Tard: Beausoleil and "J'ai Été au Zydeco"

Our random tune today is by Beausoleil and is called J'ai Été au Zydeco. Founded in 1975, Beausoleil released its first album in 1977 and became one of the most well-known groups from playing traditional and original music in the Creole tradition of Louisiana. They have also gone beyond the traditional, incorporating rock and roll, jazz, blues, calypso and other genres. They are an extensive touring band, and they sing in both English and Colonial Louisiana French. The band takes its name from Joseph Broussard dit Beausoleil, who led the Acadian resistance to British deportation from Canada and led 193 exiles to safety in Louisiana. The band almost didn't come to be - Michael Doucet, one of the founders, was going to New Mexico to study Romantic Poets, but he won a Folk Arts Apprenticeship sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts. As he puts it: "I traded William Blake for Dewey Balfa," and he sought out every living Cajun/Creole performer to learn what he could about Cajun music and their techniques. He even encouraged some to resume performing. They are one of the few Creole/Cajun groups to win a Grammy. J'ai Été au Zydeco, which means I Went to the Zydeco, can be found on their 1997 compilation The Best of Beausoleil. The tune is inspired by an older tune called J'ai Été au Bal (I Went to the Dance) and uses a chorus lifted from an even older song called Z'haricots Sont Pas Salé (The Beans are not Salty) from which the name "Zydeco" derived ("Z'haricots"), according to Chuck Taggert in the liner notes to the album.