“Mentshn zenen mishige” Performed by Max Bendich

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 10, 2020 by yiddishsong

Mentshn zenen mishige / People are crazy
A 1930s Yiddish parody of  “Three Little Fishies” sung by Max Bendich. Recorded by Aaron Bendich in the Bronx

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman and Aaron Bendich

TRANSLITERATION/TRANSLATION
Max Bendich version, in brackets are a couple of suggested grammatical corrections

Mentshn zenen meshige                             People are crazy
Zey zingen nokh [nor?] fin fish.                They sing still [only] of fish.
Ikh bin a tsedreyter                                      I’m a nutcase
Zing ikh fin a heyser [heysn] knish.         So I sing of a hot knish

A knish mit potatoes                                    A knish with potatoes
un a teler smetene.                                       and a plate of sour cream.
Lek ikh mayne finger                                   So I lick my finers
vi a kleyn ketsele.                                          like a little kitten.

Hey! Um-bum petsh im, patsh im, Hey! Um-bum hit him, slug him
Vey iz mir!                                                 Wow is me!
Zol of Hitler                                               May Hitler
vaksn a geshvir.                                       Grow a tumor.

Di college-boys ale                                   All the college boys
zey shlingen goldfish, na!                      are swallowing goldfish. Here!
Ikh vil a heyser [heysn]  knish,             I want a hot knish.
Ahhhhhh! [opens his mouth as if to swallow a knish]

מענטשן זענען משוגע
געזונגען פֿון מאַקס בענדיטש

מענטשן זענען משוגע
זיי זינגען נאָך [נאָר?] פֿון פֿיש
איך בין אַ צעדרייטער
.זינג איך פֿון אַ הייסער [הייסן] קניש

“אַ קניש מיט „פּאָטייטאָס
.און אַ טעלער סמעטענע
לעק איך מײַנע פֿינגער
.ווי אַ קליין קעצעלע

,היי! אום־בום פּעטש אים, פּאַטש אים
!וויי איז מיר
זאָל אויף היטלער
.וואַקסן אַ געשוויר

די „קאַלעדזש־בויס” אַלע
!זיי שלינגען גאָלדפֿיש, נאַ
.איך וויל אַ הייסער [הייסן] קניש.
אַאַאַאַאַאַ

Aaron Bendich comments:

Max Bendich as a child (lower right)

My zayde Max Bendich was born on March 25, 1915 in New York City to hardworking, politically active, recent immigrants from Podolia, Ukraine. He grew up on 136th Street between St Ann’s and Cypress Avenues in the Bronx. From a young age, he submerged himself in literature, cinema and music from innumerable world cultures, but he always favored Yiddish. 

In 1941 he met Dorothy Matoren, whom he married weeks before the Pearl Harbor attack. He volunteered to join the army and served in Europe until 1945, fortunately missing the worst horrors of war. Back in the Bronx, Max purchased a laundry business which he managed until his retirement in his early 60s. On June 26, 1969 Max was shot on his laundry route in Harlem, and by a miracle survived. 

Dorothy & Max Bendich

Fifty-one years later, at age 105, he’s alive and well in the Bronx, where he’s visited by a loving family of three children, four grandchildren and five great grandchildren. Every weekend for the past four years I’ve spent hours with my zayde, singing old songs, watching movies and talking about his life. This song about the 1930s goldfish-swallowing fad is the only song he’s sang for me that I’ve been unable to track down. Someday I hope to figure out where he got it from, but in the meantime I’m happy to consider it his mysterious contribution to a culture he loves so much.

Itzik Gottesman comments: 

This is a wonderful example of Yiddish-American folklore capturing perfectly the late 1930s fad to swallow goldfish and growing hatred for Hitler.

The song “Three Little Fishies” was first released in 1939, words by Josephine Carringer and Bernice Idins and music by Saxie Dowell. It was recorded by the Andrews Sisters, Kay Kyser, and the Muppets (it is often sung as a children’s song) among many others. Here is a version by Spike Jones:

Here are the lyrics to the original “Three Little Fishies”:

Down in the meadow in a little bitty pool
Swam three little fishies and a mama fishie too
“Swim” said the mama fishie, “Swim if you can”
And they swam and they swam all over the dam
Boop boop dit-tem dat-tem what-tem Chu!
Boop boop dit-tem dat-tem what-tem Chu!
Boop boop dit-tem dat-tem what-tem Chu!
And they swam and they swam all over the dam
“Stop” said the mama fishie, “or you will get lost”
The three little fishies didn’t want to be bossed
The three little fishies went off on a spree
And they swam and they swam right out to the sea
Boop boop dit-tem dat-tem what-tem Chu!
Boop boop dit-tem dat-tem what-tem Chu!
Boop boop dit-tem dat-tem what-tem Chu!
And they swam and they swam right out to the sea
“Whee!” yelled the little fishies, “Here’s a lot of…

No fish were harmed during the writing of this post.

Gebirtig’s “Kivele” Performed by Jacob (Kobi) Weitzner

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 4, 2020 by yiddishsong

“Kivele” by Mordkhe Gebirtig, Sung by Jacob (Kobi) Weitzner
Recorded by Itzik Gottesman, Warsaw, 2017

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

This week we honor the memory of Yiddish writer, playwright, scholar and journalist Jacob (Kobi) Weitzner  (March 24, 1951 – September 20, 2018). His second yortsayt will be Sept. 29. 2020

Jacob (Kobi) Weitzner

I had known Kobi since the early 1980s in NYC and worked together with him for years at the Yiddish Forverts newspaper. On the Forverts radio hour, his comic imitations of Ariel Sharon and other Israeli leaders attracted a large following, particularly among the Hasidim in NY. 

We last met in Warsaw in August 2017 and at that time, he asked me to identify this song that his mother sang to him as a child. The one verse he sang for me was from “Kivele” by Mordkhe Gebirtig. Someone along Kobi’s chain of performance changed the name from “Kivele” to “Yankele” (the name of a different, more well-known Gebirtig lullaby) and reduced an eight-line verse to four. 

“Kivele” is not among the better known songs by Gebirtig and has only been recorded by a few singers – “The Bashevis Singers” of Australia, Barbara Suie, Mariejan van Oort among them. I could find only a couple of recordings in the 20th century: Max Reichart and Mascha Benya.  Benya’s, version can be heard at this link.

I have attached the original words in Yiddish and music from a 1942 edition of Gebirtig’s songs Mayne lider, published by Arbeter-ring. Gebirtig’s text transliterated with German translation can be found at the Virtual Klezmer link.

Kobi Weitzner sings this one verse:

Shluf zhe man neshumele, mayn kleyn yingele,
Hay-liu-liu-liu, shluf zhe mir.
S’iz finem tatenyu gekimen a brivele,
toyznter zise kishn shikt er dir.

 Sleep my dear soul, my little boy
Hay-liu-liu go to sleep.
From your father a letter has arrived
thousands  of sweet kisses he sends you. 

שלאָף זשע מײַן נשמהלע, מײַן קליין ייִנגעלע
הײַ־ליו־ליו, שלאָף זשע מיר
ס’איז פֿונעם טאַטעניו געקומען אַ בריוועלע
טויזנטער זיסע קושן שיקט ער דיר

For more biographical information on Jacob Weitzner see this obituary by Marek Tuszweicki in Gazeta, pp.58-59. 

Kobi dedicated his life to enriching and preserving Yiddish culture and he will be missed.

כּבֿוד זײַן אָנדענק

An interview with Kobi in Yiddish by the Linguistic Heritage Project in Poland can be seen below:

“Shluf mayn kind, mayn treyst” Performed by Beyle Schaechter-Gottesman

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 28, 2020 by yiddishsong

Shluf mayn kind, mayn treyst/Sleep my child, my comfort
An otherwise unknown alternate melody for Sholem Aleichemś lullaby from Chernovitz, Romania sung by Beyle Schaechter-Gottesman

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

There are several melodies for this song known commonly as “Sholem Aleichem’s lullaby”, words by the writer Sholem Aleichem (Solomon Rabinovitch, 1859 – 1916).

Screenshot 2020-08-27 at 11.38.53 PM
Sholem Aleichem

There are two popular tunes to this poem but Beyle Schaechter-Gottesman (BSG) sings an otherwise unknown third melody that she remembers from her home town of Cernauti/Chernovitz, Romania.

BSG sings only two verses of a longer song. Sholem Aleichem first printed the poem in 1892 but only a few years later it was already published as a “folksong” in the Ginsburg and Marek collection of 1901.

The most commonly sung melody was composed by Dovid Kovanovsky. You can hear Ruth Rubin sing the Kavonovsky melody at this link. (from YIVO’s Ruth Rubin Archive). Also posted at the link is Feigl Yudin’s performance of the second most popular melody. Below is a version of the Yudin melody performed by vocalist Rebecca Kaplan Muranaka, accompanied by tsimblist Pete Rushefsky from their 2003 CD, Oyf di vegelekhOn the Paths (Yiddishland Music):

Both melodies plus transcribed words and translation have been printed in Ruth Rubin’s Jewish Folksongs in Yiddish and English (Oak Publications, 1965) (scans attached).

In Emil Seculetz’s Romanian Yiddish collection Yidishe folkslider, (Bucharest 1959) the compiler collected 5 versions of Shlof mayn kind, with music. Two of them (#21 and #22) are related to BSGs version. (scans are attached))

In BSG’s repertory she knows a completely different song to this second popular melody sung by Yudin: a lullaby about armed resistance which can be heard on her CD “Bay mayn mames shtibele” (2004).

There is much more to say about the history and transformations of Sholem Aleichem’s lullaby. See the article “America in East European Yiddish Folk Song” in The Field of Yiddish, 1954 by Eleanor Gordon Mlotek and the chapter on Sholem Aleichem in Perl fun der yidisher poezye, ed. Yoysef and Khane Mlotek, 1974.

Fans of Beyle Schaechter-Gottesman – be sure to watch this amazing online concert commemorating BSG’s 100th Birthday!

Shluf man kind as sung by Beyle Schaechter-Gottesman

Shluf man kind, man treyst, may sheyner
Shluf man zinonyu.

Shluf man kind, man kadish eyner
Hayda-liu-lku

Shluf man kind, man kadish eyner
Hayda-liu-lku-liu

In amerike der tate,
dayner zinonyu.

Bist a kind nokh shluf lis-ate
shluf zhe, shluf liu-liu

Bist a kind nokh shluf lis-ate
shluf zhe, shluf liu-liu

Screenshot 2020-08-27 at 11.33.32 PM

From Emil Seculetz’s Yidishe folkslider, (Bucharest 1959), #21 and #22:

Screenshot 2020-08-27 at 11.45.58 PMScreenshot 2020-08-27 at 11.46.07 PM

From Ruth Rubin’s Jewish Folksongs in Yiddish and English (Oak Publications, 1965):

“Lozt Mikh Arayn!” Performed by Clara Crasner

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 21, 2020 by yiddishsong

Lozt Mikh Arayn! / Let Me In!
A street cry: a plea for a job, sung by Clara Crasner, recorded by Robert Freedman, Philadelphia, 1972.

 TRANSLITERATION AND TRANSLATION

Lozt mikh arayn! Ikh vel aykh nitslekh zayn.
Feyikaytn tsin altsding
Tsim lernen a moyekh un tse dem arbetn a koyekh.
Un tse dem handlen:  a gants fayner ying!

Let me in! I can be of use to you.
I am capable of all things:
To teach a mind, To use my strength for work.
As for business/commerce, I’m a fine young man. 

לאָזט מיך אַרײַן, איך וועל אײַך ניצלעך זײַן
פֿעיִקייטן צון אַלצדינג
צום לערנען אַ מוח און צו דעם אַרבעטן אַ כּוח
און צו דעם האַנדלען: אַ גאַנץ פֿײַנער יונג. 

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

This is the fourth song we have posted by Clara Crasner. See the earlier posts for biographical details of her life.

In the discussion with Bob Freedman after she sings, Crasner suggests that such a song would be performed by someone to be allowed into a courtyard. For other street cries in Yiddish see under “genre” in YIVO’s Ruth Rubin Archive.

vishniacPhoto by Roman Vishniac

Those interested in this genre can also read M. Gromb’s article “Gasn un hoyf-reklame” (street and courtyard cries) in volume three of YIVO’s “Filologishe shriftn” 1929 (pp. 283 – 296) to see many examples of Warsaw street cries (just texts).

The melody of “Lozt mikh arayn” is close to Avrom Goldfaden’s song “Faryomert, farklogt” from his play “Doktor Almasada” (1880s) about Jewish persecution and wandering. How appropriate for this peripatetic young man searching for work.  Here is a performance of “Faryomert, farklogt” by Richard Tucker. 

The only Yiddish street cry that I have heard was on the streets of Israel, when an Arab junk dealer was passing through the streets with his horse and wagon yelling in Yiddish “Alti zakhi” (“Alte zakhn” = old things). 

My mother remembered that in Chernovitz the junk dealer yelled “Handeles!” (accent on the first syllable) – a contraction of “Handl alles!”= “I deal with everything.” I have also seen a list of local street cries in at least one Yiddish yizkor bukh (many landsmanshaftn– Jewish immigrant societies– wrote and published yizkor books to remember and memorialize their hometowns).

¨Me geyt shoyn tsi der khipe” Performed by Lifshe Schaechter Widman

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 14, 2020 by yiddishsong

Me geyt shoyn tsi der khipe / They’re Already Walking to the Khupe!
Sung by Lifshe Schaechter-Widman, recorded by Leybl Kahn 1954 NYC.

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

Though Lifshe Schaechter Widman (LSW) introduces the song by saying it used to be sung on the way to the khupe (wedding canopy), it is a song mocking the wedding, not a part of the ceremony by any means.

Screenshot 2020-08-14 at 5.10.13 PMImage of a Wedding Procession by Isaak Ashknaziy, 1893

The melody to this song was probably inspired by the klezmer tune known as the “Odesser Bulgar” found in Kammen collection “Dance Folio No.1 #18. (Thanks to Michael Alpert for pointing this out). Here is a link to the Alexandria Kleztet from the D.C. area and their version of the Odesser Bulgar:

In addition to LSW’s, two other texts to this song can be found in the Shmuel Zanvel Pipe song collection Folklore Research Centre Studies, Volume 2, Jerusalem, 1971, (edited by Meir and Dov Noy). They have been scanned and attached. The first version is in the body of the text and includes the melody. The second is in the end notes and includes different words and a second section of the melody as Meir Noy, also a Galitsyaner from Kolomyia (Yid = Kolomey) remembered it. LSW’s melody also has a second section or the begining of one.

The image of the fiddle “speaking” at the wedding (in essence warning the young couple) reminds one of the Itzik Manger poem “Der badkhn”, music by Henekh Kon.

Nor vos zogt der fidl, zog fidele zog!
¨Di sheynkayt iz sheyn, nor sheynkeyt fargeyt.¨
Azoy zogt der fidl un vos zogt di fleyt?

What does the fiddle say, tell us fiddle!”
“Beauty is nice, but beauty fades.”
So says the fiddle and what says the flute?

The only word in LSW’s version that is still not clear is “sekl” or “seke”; a word not found in the Yiddish dictionaries but “seke” does also appear in the second version in the notes of the Pipe collection. Michael Alpert suggests it could be a klezmer term for the sekund; the rhythmic and harmonic fiddle in klezmer music.

The word “opgeklogt”, pronounced by LSW as “u’geklugt” is open to interpretation, but I believe she means “good riddance, the parents have suffered enough”. In Pipe’s versions the line is “A yingl hot a meydl ongeklogt” which has a completely different meaning, but also open to interpretation.

Special thanks for helping with the blog post this week: Eliezer Niborski who transcribed LSW’s version, Michael Alpert, Josh Waletzky, Mark Slobin, Pete Rushefsky.

TRANSLITERATION AND TRANSLATION

LSW speaks: “A lid vus me fleyg zingen az me geyt tsi der khipe in Galitsye, in Bukovina.”
A song that used to be sung on the way to the khupe [marriage canopy] in Galicia and Bukovina.

[Un] Me geyt shoyn tsi der khipe, me geyt!
Me trasket un me fliasket, s’iz a freyd!
Herts nor vus der fidl zugt:
“A bukher mit a moyd u’geklugt” [opgeklugt]

[And] They’s already walking to the khupe!
People are banging and celebrating, what a joy!
Listen to what the fiddle says:
“Good riddance to the bride and groom”

Un dort der bas mit der sekl (seke?):
Niech będzie na długo i na wieki’ [Polish]

And there the bass and the sekund (fiddle)
[Polish]: May it be for long and forever.

Un aykh makhuteyniste – git-morgn!
Ir hot shoyn frishe zorgn:
Me bayt di rayneshlekh af kronen.
Me zikht a voynung vi tse voynen.

And you my mother-in-law – good morning!
You have fresh worries:
You have to exchange the Rhenish for Kronen [currency]
and find a place to live.

REPEAT FIRST VERSE

Screenshot 2020-08-14 at 3.47.42 PM

Screenshot 2020-08-14 at 3.47.59 PM

Instrumental klezmer version of the melody  found in J. & J. Kammenś collection Dance Folio No.1, #18:

Screenshot 2020-08-14 at 4.03.18 PM

Version found in Shmuel Zanvel Pipeś song collection Folklore Research Centre Studies, Volme 2, Jerusalem, 1971, (edited by Meir and Dov Noy):

Screenshot 2020-08-14 at 4.04.06 PMScreenshot 2020-08-14 at 4.04.26 PM

“Of di grine felder/Dos fertsnte yor” – Two Performances

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 31, 2020 by yiddishsong

Of di grine felder/Dos fertsnte yor / On the green fields/The Year 1914

This week we are presenting two performances of this song:

1) Sara Nomberg-Przytyk (recorded by Wolf Krakowski, Way’s Mills, Quebec, Canada, 1986):

2) Beyle Schaechter-Gottesman (BSG), Lifshe Schaechter-Widman (LSW) and Jonas Gottesman (recorded by Leybl Kahn, Bronx, 1954):

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman:

Though we have chosen to feature two versions of the song that begin “Of di grine felder, velder”, the song is also commonly known as “Dos 14te yor” with variants that begin with “Dos 14te yor is ongekumen, oy vey” (“The 14th Year Has Arrived”). Among the singers who have recorded versions of this song: Sidor Belarsky, Majer Bogdanski, Leibu Levin and more recently Michael Alpert, “Psoy and the Israelifts” and Lorin Sklamberg/ Susan McKeown.

Michael Alpert’s a capella version of the song can be heard here. Plus, below is a contemporary interpretation of the song by Psoy and the Israelifts titled “1914” found on YouTube:

In YIVO’s Ruth Rubin’s Archive there are field recordings by Martn Birnbaum, Chinke Asher and Hannah Rosenberg. In the volume Old Jewish Folk Music: The Collections and Writings of Moshe Beregovsky (Mark Slobin, U. Pennsylvania Press, 1982; Syracuse University Press, 2000) there are 7 versions with melodies!

The song became very popular over a wide area of Eastern Europe during and after the first world war. So popular that it was recalled with amusement in a chapter in B. Kuczerer’s [קוטשער] Yiddish memoirs of Warsaw Geven a mol varshe, (Paris, 1955). He begins the chapter on the 1914 German occupation of Warsaw in this way:

“The 14th year has arrived – oy vey!

And soon it [the song] enveloped everyone and everything as if by magic… Day and night. Wherever you go, wherever you stand. In every street, in every courtyard, in every corner.

Who sang it loudly to arouse pity. Who sang it quietly, for oneself, to get it off your chest. And everywhere the same song. Everywhere the same melody, the same moan, the same tears.

‘The 14th year has arrived – oy vey!'”  (p. 59)

But some versions of the song are about later years. In the Sofia Magid collection Unser Rebbe, unser Stalin, Basya Fayler sings about the “Dos akhtsnte yor” (“The18th year” p. 277 – 79). The linguist Prof. Moshe Taube remembers his father singing this song about “Dos 19te yor” referring to the Polish violence against Jews at that time (oral communication).

THE UKRAINIAN CONNECTION

This song can ultimately can be traced back to a Ukrainian song of the 1830s. In a review of a lecture by the Polish folklorist Jan Byston written by Max Weinreich, published in Yidishe filologye heft. 2/3, March-June, 1924, Weinreich refers to the first publication of this Yiddish song in the periodical Der Jude (n.1-2, April-May 1917 p. 123-124) in which the collector Anshl (Anselm) Kleynman remembers how in the trenches of 1914-1915 some Ukrainian soldiers sang their version, and Jewish soldiers heard it, translated it and it spread from there. In this lecture that Weinreich attended, Bystron pointed out that the song in Ukrainian was sung as far back as 1833.

Prof. Robert Rothstein found two versions of the Ukrainian song from 1834. He writes: “One stanza was found among Aleksander Pushkin’s papers, written on the back of a letter from Nikolai Gogol. Pushkin died in 1837.” He adds “It’s also known as Чорна рілля ізорана (Chorna rillia izorana – The Black Farm Field Has Been Dug Up). The reference is to the chornozem, the rich black soil of Ukraine.” [communication via email]

Inspired by the song, the Polish folk/death metal band Kryvoda uses a stark image of a crow on a dead soldier for their 2014 album entitled “Kruki”. Below you can hear their performance of Чорна рілля [“Chorna rillia”]:

The website “Yidlid.org” has written out a long version of the words in Yiddish, transliterated Yiddish, French and English and included the melody from Belarsky’s book

Longer versions can also be found in Shloyme Bastomski’s Yiddish folksong collection Baym kval pages 132-133 and Immanuel Olsvanger’s Rosinkess mit mandlen, 1920, pp. 259-261.

A note on the LSW/BSG version of “Oyf di grine felder, velder”: This is the only recording I have found which features my father, Jonas Gottesman (1914 – 1995), a physician born in Siret, Romania, singing along with Lifshe, his mother-in-law, and wife Beyle. He was a wonderful baritone singer and was the only one in the family who could harmonize, as can be heard on this recording.

Special thanks with help for this post to Wolf Krakowsky, Eliezer Niborski and Prof. Robert Rothstein.

TRANSLITERATION OF NOMBERG-PRZYTYK’s VERSION (Translation is on the video)

Of di grine felder un velder, oy vay, oy vay.
Of di grine felder un velder
ligt mit koyln badekt a zelner oy vay, oy vay
ligt mit koyln badekt a zelner oy vay, oy vay

Shvartse foygl kimen tsi flien oy vay, oy vay.
kumt tsu flien a shvartser foygl
un dlubet im oys di bayde oygn, oy vay, oy vay
dlubet im oys di bayde oygn, oy vay, oy vay.

Ver vet nukh im kadish zugn oy vay, oy vay
Ver vet nukh im kadish zugn?
Ver vet nukh im vaynen un klugn oy vay, oy vay
Ver vet nukh im vaynen un klugn oy vay, oy vay

Of di grine felder un velder, oy vay, oy vay.
Of di grine felder un velder
ligt mit koyln badekt a zelner oy vay, oy vay
ligt mit koyln badekt a zelner oy vay, oy vay

TRANSLITERATION and TRANSLATION OF LSW/BSG/JG VERSION

Of di grine, felder velder, vey, vey
Of di grine, felder velder,
ligt mit koyln badekt a zelner, vey, vey,
ligt mit koyln badekt a zelner, vey, vey.

On the green fields, woods, vey, vey!
On the green fields, woods
Lays covered with bullets a soldier, vey, vey
Lays covered with bullets a soldier, vey, vey

Kim tse flien shvartser foygl, vey, vey
kim tse flien shvartser foygl,
dzhibet oys bay im di oygn, oy vey.
dzhibet oys bay im di oygn, vey, vey.

Come fly here black bird, vey, vey
Come fly black bird
and peck his eyes out, vey, vey.
and peck his eyes out, vey, vey.

Sheyner foygl, shvartse vorone vey, vey
Sheyner foygl, shvartse vorona,
fli avek tsi mayn mame, vey vey,
fli avek tsi mayn mame, vey vey.

Black bird, black crow, vey, vey
Black bird, black crow
fly away to my mother, vey, vey.
fly away to my mother, vey, vey.

Zolst ir fin mayn toyt nisht zugn, vey, vey,
zolst ir fin mayn toyt nisht zugn,
anit vet zi nit oyfhern klugn vey, vey.
anit vet zi nit oyfhern klugn vey, vey.

Do not tell her of my death, vey vey
Do not tell her of my death
for she will cry and lament, vey, vey
for she will cry and lament, vey, vey.

Ver vet nukh mir veynen in klugn vey, vey
ver vet nukh mir veynen in klugn,
ver vet nukh mir kadish zugn? vey, vey.
ver vet nukh mir kadish zugn? vey, vey

Who will cry and lament for me? vey, vey
Who will cry and lament for me?
Who will say Kaddish for me? vey, vey.
Who will say Kaddish for me? vey, vey.

Nor dus ferdl, dus getraye, vey, vey
nur dus ferdl dus getraye
vet nukhgeyn nukh mayn levaye, vey, vey.
vet nukhgeyn nukh mayn levaye, vey, vey.

Only my faithful horse, vey, vey.
Only my faithful horse
Will follow at my funeral, vey, vey.
Will follow at my funeral, vey, vey.

TRANSCRIPTION OF NOMBERG-PRZYTYK’s VERSION:

nomberg 1914

TRANSCRIPTION OF LSW/BSG/JG’s VERSION:

LSW 1914 1LSW 1914 2

Eliakum Zunser’s “Der aristokrat” Performed by Nathan Singer

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 17, 2020 by yiddishsong

Eliakum Zunser’s “Der aristokrat”, Sung by Nathan Singer
Recorded in 1948.

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman.

Screenshot 2020-07-17 at 11.48.59 AM

Eliakum Zunser by Jacob Epstein, 1902

“Der aristokrat” was one of the most popular songs by the Vilna badkhn and composer Eliakum Zunser (1836-1913). It is the fifth Zunser song that we have posted on the blog.

The song is taken from a recording of the Singer and Nitzberg families which was done on a wire recorder in 1948 probably in Baltimore. Gertrude Singer Nitzberg transferred the recordings to tape in the 1970s and donated them to the Jewish Museum of Maryland.

Nathan Singer sings Zunser’s song in a “Litvish” dialect (“leyb” instead of “loyb”, “siml” instead of “shiml” for example). His version is remarkably close to Zunser’s printed orginal. The full text is 224 lines and was first printed in Eliakum Zunser’s collection  Tsen yidishe folkslider, Vilna, 1888. Singer sings only one verse – 16 lines.

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Zunser’s 1888 collection Tsen yidishe folkslider

There are two recordings of this song and both are by professional singers, so this home performance with a simplified melody contrasts with theirs, and most likely reflects how it was sung among the folk. One recording is on a Folkways album Selected Songs of Eliakum Zunser featuring the singer Nathaniel A. Entin. The other recording is found on a 78 rpm record by Marcus Eisenberg called “Der aristokrat”, 1919.

The complete poem “Der aristokrat” tells of the trials and tribulations of a wealthy man who leaves the Jewish world to live among Christians but he is not wanted there. He ends up a happy man working the land in Petah-Tikvah, Palestine.

We are attaching the complete Yiddish text from volume one of The Works of Elyokum Zunser: A Critical Edition by Mordkhe Schaechter, YIVO, 1964 and the music from volume two of the same work.

TRANSCRIPTION and TRANSLATION OF NATHAN SINGER’S VERSION OF “DER ARISTOKRAT”

Fil dank ikh un leyb Gotes nomen,
er hot mir di eygn eyfgemakht.
Hot geshikt eyf mayn shtetl pogromen
Dos hot mir fun kholem ervakht…

Many thanks and praises of God’s name,
for he had opened my eyes.
He sent pogroms to attack my town
which woke me up from my dream. 

Ikh hob opgelebt a lebn in tuml,
fardorbn mayn kerper mayn zel.
Af mayn hartsn iz ongevaksn siml [shiml]
un mayn yidishkayt iz avek in der velt.

I have a life of unrest.
Ruined my body and soul.
Mold was growing on my heart
and my Jewishness got lost. 

Geveynt haynt mit fremde natsyonen,
mayne brider ferhast un ferakht;
Am ende hot men mir nit gevolt konen,
in di eygn var ikh oysgelakht!

I live today among foreign nations,
my brothers hated and despised.
Finally, no one wanted to know me,
I was mocked to my eyes. 

Fardorbn mayn vayb mayne kinder,
kayn ruikn lebn gehat,
kegn Got, kegn laytn a zinder –
kh’ob gevelt zayn an “aristokrat”. 

Ruined my wife and children,
no peaceful life have I had.
Against God, against man I have sinned.
I wanted to be an aristocrat.

“Der Aristokrat” in The Works of Elyokum Zunser: A Critical Edition by Mordkhe Schaechter, YIVO, 1964 (music from Volume 2, text from Volume 1):

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“Tort un vayn” Performed by Tillie Fishman

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 3, 2020 by yiddishsong

Tort un vayn / Cake and wine
A Yiddish version of Joe Hill’s “Pie in the Sky” sung by Tillie Fishman, recorded by Gertrude Nitzberg , Baltimore, 1979

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

This is a Yiddish version of Joe Hill’s song “Pie in the Sky” originally called “The Preacher and the Slave”. Here is Cisco Houston’s version of the Joe Hill song.

Joe_hill002

Joe Hill

Joe Hill (1879 – 1915) was a labor activist , songwriter and member of the IWW – Industrial Workers of the World. He was executed for the murder of a grocer and his son in Utah, despite international protests and appeals for clemency. His memory has been preserved in the song “Joe Hill” which was recorded by Paul Robeson, Joan Baez, among others. 

Hill’s song was itself a parody of the Christian hymn “Sweet Bye and Bye” written in 1868. Here is country singer, Loretta Lynn with her version of the original hymn.

This Yiddish version of Joe Hill’s “Pie in the Sky” appeared in the songbook Mit gezang tsum kamf, songs composed and arranged by Jacob Schaeffer, 1932. Fishman sings two verses, but the songbook has five.  It does not say who translated or adapted the songs. We are attaching the music, the Yiddish text from that book, and including below a transcription of the longer version found in Schaeffer’s book. In Schaeffer’s collection the song is called “Der prister un der nar” (“The Priest and the Fool”). 

This recording is found in the Gertrude Nitzberg Collection at the Jewish Museum of Maryland. 

Did you know that Ethel Raim, Yiddish singer and teacher, founder and artistic director emeritus of CTMD,  composed a melody to “Joe Hill’s Last Will”? You can find it in the magazine “Sing Out!”, volume 11, #3, p. 29.

Special thanks with help for this week’s post to Emily Socolov.

TRANSLITERATION (Tillie Fishman’s version)

“Prist” un “preacher” haltn droshes umetum.
Vus me zugt undz, heyst men indz zayn frum.
Es mont der galakh un es shtroft der rov.
Zol shoyn nemen tsi di tsores a sof. 

Refrain

Me redt undz ayn es vet zayn. Es vet zayn.
In gan-eydn frishe broyt un vayn. Broyt un vayn.
Un dervayl shteyt in “line”. Es vet zayn
in gan-eyden tort un vayn; tort un vayn!

Fun dem eltstn biz dem klenstn kind,
vus me zogt im, zogt men as s’iz zind.
Es shtruft der galakh un es munt der rov.
Zol shoyn nemen tsu di tsores a sof.

Refrain

Me redt undz ayn es vet zayn. Es vet zayn
In gan-eydn frishe broyt un vayn. Broyt un vayn.
Un dervayl shteyt in “line”. Es vet zayn
in gan-eyden tort un vayn; tort un vayn!

TRANSLATION

Priest and preacher give speeches everywhere.
They are always saying that we should be religious.
The priest demands, the rabbi punishes.
May an end to our troubles come soon. 

Refrain

They assure us that there will be,
in heaven fresh bread and wine. Bread and wine.
In the meantime get in line. There will be
in heaven cake and wine. Cake and wine. 

From the oldest to the smallest child,
They are told that everything is a sin.
The priest punishes and the rabbi demands.
May an end to our troubles come soon. 

Refrain

They assure us that there will be, there will be,
in heaven fresh bread and wine. Bread and wine.
In the meantime get in line. There will be
in heaven cake and wine. Cake and wine. 

TRANSLITERATION OF SCHAEFFER VERSION

Pristers haltn droshes umetum
In Gots nomen heyst men undz zayn frum.
Laydn mir hunger, laydn mir noyt.
Viln mir esn, monen mir broyt.

Refrain:

Redt men undz ayn es vet zayn 
in gan-eydn frishe broyt un vayn
un dervayl shteyt in “layn”,
Es vet zayn in gan-eydn tort un vayn.

Eyder mir derzen a por sent
rayst men es oys fun undzere hent.
Prist un pritsher, yeder shvindler nemt
biz men tut undz oys dos letste hemd.

REFRAIN: Redt men undz ayn… 

Shafn far raykhe un nit far zikh.
Shteyt men in “layn” far der tir bay der kikh.
Fresn di raykhe, s’platst zey der boykh.
Volt men darlangt khotsh a bisl undz oykh.

REFRAIN: Redt men undz ayn…

Fun dem grestn biz dem klentstn kind
vos mir tuen af der erd iz zind.
Shtroft der galakh un es mont der rov.
un beshas mir tsoln undzer shtrof.

REFRAIN: Redt men undz ayn…

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Joe Hill’s “Pie in the Sky” in the songbook Mit gezang tsum kamf, songs composed and arranged by Jacob Schaeffer, 1932

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TortMusic1TortMusic2

“Nodele” Performed by Martin Horowitz

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 25, 2020 by yiddishsong

Nodele / Little Needle
Words: Sara Barkan, music: H. Wolowitz. Sung by Martin Horowitz, recorded by Gertrude Nitzberg, Baltimore, 1979

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

Horowitz

Martin Horowitz

The singer Martin Horowitz of Baltimore passed away on Feb, 12, 2020. The obituary in the Baltimore Jewish Times (Mar. 25) writes that “He loved music, dancing, and was an energetic and graceful performer. He played guitar, accompanying himself on folk and Yiddish songs.”

This is another song from the Nitzberg Collection at the Jewish Museum of Maryland. This song, words and music, is included in the collection Zing mit mir published by Workmen’s Circle, NY, 1945 (third printing), edited by Mikhl Gelbart. We have attached the pages, Yiddish words and music.

The text was written by Sarah Barkan (also known as Barkan-Silverman), a radical Yiddish poet who was very much part of the Yiddish communist literary world before the Second World War. She contributed many poems to the leftist Yiddish schools in America, and “Nodele” is one of them. It is published in her book Gutfriling (NYC,1936) where it is titled “Tsu a nodl”.

שרה_ברקן_פורטרט

Sarah Barkan

Barkan was born in Dvinsk (Daugavipils), Latvia, in 1884 and immigrated to the US in 1907. She died in NY in 1957.

The composer Hersh Wolowitz was active in the 1920s and 1930’s. His best known song “A fidler” begins with the line “S’hot der tate fun yaridl”. He published two collections Tsen kinderlider (1929) and Lider tsum zingen (1936).

TRANSLITERATION

Nodl, nodl, nodele,
Shtekh durkh dem gevant.
A fodem in dayn eygele
Loz durkhgeyn mayn hant.

Refrain:

Fal nit, fal nit nodele,
fun mayn mider hant.
Mir tantsn dokh a nodltants,
Af zayd un af gevant.

Ven der tog vet shlofn geyn,
rustu in mayn lats.
Nodl, nodl nodele,
nodele mayn shats.

Refrain

TRANSLATION

Needle, needle, little needle,
poke through this cloth.
Let pass a thread in your little eye
through my hand.

Refrain:

Don’t fall, don’t fall little needle
from my weary hand.
We dance a needle dance,
on silk and on cloth.

When the day will go to sleep,
you rest in my lapel.
Needle, needle, little needle,
little needle my treasure.

Refrain

Wolowitznodele1nodele2

“In a fektori lebn a mashin” Performed by Mary Roten

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 18, 2020 by yiddishsong

In  a fektori lebn a mashin (Khane, hayret mit mir) / In a Factory, Near a Machine (Hannah, Marry Me)
Sung by Mary Roten  (1900 – 1993), recorded by Gertrude Nitzberg in 1979, Baltimore, Maryland

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

“Khane Hayrat mit mir” is a typical song from the Yiddish theater of the 1910s when Mary Roten learned it. She sings it in a “Litvish” dialect – “em” instead of “im”, “farfleygn” instead of “farfloygn”  “di land” instead of “dos land” etc.

I have not yet found the composer, author or possible play where it was performed but I would bet the melody is taken from a popular American tune of the time period. Does anyone recognize it?

RotenPhotoPhotograph from the Jewish Museum of Maryland

The singer Mary Roten was born in 1900 and died in 1993. In the above photograph she is teaching her nursery class at the Baltimore Jewish Educational Alliance, circa 1930. 

The recording of this song was done by Gertrude Nitzberg who donated the recording to the Jewish Historical Society of Maryland, now part of the Jewish Museum of Maryland. Nitzberg was a teacher and collector of Yiddish folksongs, stories and life history. For more on Gertrude Nitzberg read her obituary here.

Nitzberg was 81 years old when she died in 2000.  In the Museum description of the collection, it mentions 20 tapes of field-recordings of singers. 

Note on the words to “Khane, heyrat mit mir”:
“Mashin” means sewing machine.
“COD” means Cash on Delivery
“Operator” = sewing machine operator

TRANSLITERATION

In a fektori lebn a mashin,
zitst a yunger-man,
in der land iz er grin.
Lebn em zitst a yunge meydele,
shtendik zi neyt.
Un zi trakht vegn dem operaterl
vos zingt ir dos lid:

Refrain:

Khane, heyrat mit mir.
Ales vel ikh ton far dir.
Mir veln lebn, sheyn, a prakht.
Ikh vel arbetn shver tog un nakht
far mayn frumer Khanele. 

Yorn hobn farfleygn,
heyrat hobn zey.
Got hot zey geshonken
mit kinderlekh tsvey.
Yetst haltn zey a “biznes” [ business],
a kleyn “groseri.”  [grocery]
un farkeyfn tsu ale kustomers
by COD. 

Fraytik tsu nakht
zitsndik baym tish,
iber di lange lokshn,
un iber di gefilte fish,
zogt zi tsu em:
“Tsi gedenkstu di tsayt ven
du host gezungen dos lid?”.

Refrain:

Khane, heyrat mit mir.
Ales vel ikh ton far dir.
Mir veln lebn, sheyn, a prakht.
Ikh vel arbetn shver tog un nakht
far mayn frumer Khanele. 

TRANSLATION

In a factory, near a machine,
sits a young man,
in this land he is “green”.
Next to him sits a girl
who always is sewing.
And she thinks about the operator
who sings her this song:

Refrain:

Khane, marry me.
I will do everything for you.
We will live wonderfully, a wonder.
I will work hard all day and night.
For my pious Khanele. 

Years flew by;
they were married.
God gave them a gift
of two children.
Now they have a business,
a little grocery store.
And all the customers pay
COD [cash on delivery]

Friday night, sitting at the table,
with the long noodles and with gefilte fish,
she says to him:
“Do you remember when
you sang me this song?”

Refrain:

Khane, heyrat mit mir.
Ales vel ikh ton far dir.
Mir veln lebn, sheyn, a prakht.
Ikh vel arbetn shver tog un nakht
far mayn frumer Khanele. 

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