I agree that Steve's version of Jolie Blond is difficult to learn from. For him the embellishments are intuitive, but for the beginner they can be daunting. He also varies the licks as the song progresses.
My suggestion would be to listen to the song intently for as long as necessary to learn the basic melody in your head. Then pick out the basic tune on your accordion until you have the simple melody nailed. (Think of drawing a complex picture beginning with a stick figure.) Gradually add the rythmic treatment, octaves, and blends as you progress, and the pieces will begin to fall in place.
Don't be discouraged - this is something all players go through when first learning. Patience and diligence will pay off later.
You can use VLC media player (free) to rip the audio, then use Amazing Slow Downer to slow it down to a CRAWL, without changing the pitch! Of course then you have to hear the notes and find them on the buttons, but you can loop a small section over and over.
Victoria Ann....remember you this. Most Cajun songs can be played on just 4 buttons (5,6,7,8). You play them songs slow at first trying to find every note you hear being played on the recording and gradually, work up to actual speed without missing any got dam notes. By sound and feel you figure out when to push and pull the bellows with each single button and/or blends. When you get bored playing single (straight style) notes, then you start hunting for the doubles or "sister buttons" of all those little single notes you've been working on and perfecting.
The Cajun accordion is never played well at the start. It is an instrument that requires time to perfect. That is just as well, because if it were easy we'd have every smoking joe in the world playing Cajun accordion and claiming to be the best within their first year. Then what would it be worth to even learn Cajun accordion?
Earn your stripes. Most every Cajun has learned the Cajun music on his or her own since the beginning. They can sing it, whistle it, clap their hands to it, etc. The only advantage a Cajun has over everyone else is that a Cajun constantly listens to Cajun music. Reproducing the music becomes second nature and intuitive. Makes learning to play Cajun accordion and fiddle much easier. If you want a child to learn French at home, you're not going to speak Chinese to it. You're going to speak French to it. Tah Prend Ca? (You got it?)
Thanks to all the folks who answered questions about Jolie Blonde. I'm still learning but decided to do easier songs, like Bayou Pompon or Jai Passe devant ta porte. I will prob. get to Steve Riley's Jolie Blonde later, want more time with other songs. Still trying to figure out how to play in key of G on a C accordian. No clue how one would do key of F, but hear, one can. I have Larry Miller's book on Beginner Accordian. All 3 answers were great. Am really trying to get to know the songs real well, and humming them helps. A different can of worms is singing and playing the accordian or doing like a back-up rhythum. It's easier to just stop playing and let a guitar take over or a fiddle. Am finding, while playing with others that a good rhythum gitar really helps, when they back off because they may not really know the cajun song, it can be difficult. Still enjoying my beginner accordian though!
I think it's useful to learn how to play blend (2-note) chords quietly during jams while other instruments are playing or vocalists are singing -- it will reinforce your understanding of the songs, strengthen your familiarity with keyboard, and ultimately make playing melody much easier.
If you drop your left hand and keep your right-hand fingers in the "home" position (i.e., index finger on the 5 key and your other fingers on the 6, 7, and 8 keys), you can play pretty much all the basic blends you'll need:
In Key of C -
C = any combination of push keys (I usually use 5-6 push = G & C notes)
F = 5-8 pull (= A & F notes)
G = 6-7 pull (= B & D notes)
In Key of G -
C = same as above
G = same as above
D = 5-7 pull (= A & D notes)
Because many G songs don't have a lot of C chords, you may find yourself at times with the bellows fully extended. To avoid this, you can play a G octave (5-8 push) in place of the G blend, which will give you a chance to push instead of pull and get the bellows back where you're comfortable.
In Key of F (rare, but just in case) -
F = same as above
Bb = 7-8 pull (= D & F notes)
C = same as above