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High Lonesome

I am of Cajun extraction, the name "Castille" coming from my Cajun father, Percy. Percy was born in Breaux Bridge, Louisiana and as far as Cajuns go, he was the real thing. He grew up in a large, poor family on the bayou. He did not speak English until he was 8 years old when he finally started school.

If I had all the time in the world, one thing I would do is learn more about Cajun culture and history. To some extent, though, it's in my bones anyway since I grew up hearing my father speak Cajun French to his family on the phone and sometimes listening to Cajun records. Perhaps some day, I will learn to play and sing Cajun fiddle songs in Cajun French. At least it's on the long-term To Do list.

In the meantime, I do on occasion pull out my Cajun fiddle books and learn a few tunes. I learned that there is a genre of song that is typically Cajun that uses a sound called "The High Lonesome". This captures the plaintive sadness of the Cajun sound. My father suffered from severe depression his entire life. When I listen to the high lonesome sound of the old Cajun songs, I wonder if some of my father's sadness might be inherited from his people.

This song is called "Les Barres de la Prison", an appropriately woeful title for a sad lonesome Cajun song. Listen to how the dissonance contributes to the sad, lonesome feeling.

The picture accompanying the video is my great great great great grandfather Valsin Castille. As the story goes, Valsin fought in the Civil War and was there at Appomatox Courthouse when all the soldiers on both sides laid down their arms to honor General Robert E. Lee when he surrendered to U.S. Grant. I believe he got part of his face shot off at Fredericksburg and spent the rest of his life fighting for compensatory veterans' benefits for himself and his wife.

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