“A naye geshikhte” performed by Lifshe Schaechter-Widman

Notes by Itzik Gottesman.

This week, we present another performance by Lifshe Schaechter-Widman, a version of A naye geshikhte (“A New Story”) recorded in the Bronx in 1954 by Leybl Kahn (on the life of Lifshe Schaechter-Widman, click here to see the earlier post for Fintster, glitshik).

A naye geshikhte is a ballad that tells a story that purports to be true, a legendary ballad. This song was published, with the melody, by the collector Leybl Kahn in the second issue of the journal Yidisher Folklor, June 1955, page 28, a publication of I.L. Cahan Folklore Club in NY. Chana Mlotek, expert on Yiddish song, currently a music archivist at YIVO in NY, and longtime columnist of “Leyner dermonen zikh lider‟ (Readers Remember Songs) in the Yiddish Forward newspaper, added her comments and parallels to this widely distributed ballad in that issue. Among the comments she says that every singer of this song says that it describes a true story that happened in her/his town.

I would add a version collected by Shmuel-Zaynvil Pipe in Sanok, Galicia (Sunik/Sonik in Yiddish) and printed in Yiddish Folksongs From Galicia edited by Dov Noy and Meir Noy, 1971, page 115. Pipe‘s collection and the song repertory found in the volume, which includes the melodies, comes closest to LSW‘s Bukovina repertory of any other collection of Yiddish folksongs.

The two powerful images/motifs in the ballad – the drowned youth bitten by the fish, and the distribution of his clothes to the poor, so that kaddish can be said for him – are found in the other versions as well. I have found reference to this custom of clothes distribtion only in one other place – a joke told about the prankster Hershele Ostropolyer!

LSW sings in her slow, emotional style and reinforces the trajedy of the story when she repeats the last two lines in each verse, slower and with more sentiment. The melody of the song is similar to “Der beker yingl‟ also called “Beker lid‟ recorded by Ruth Rubin, and later by the group Aufwind.

A naye geshikhte ken ikh aykh dertseyln
vos er hot zikh getrofn do nisht vayt.
A khosn hot zikh dertronkn fun zayn kale
dertsu fun di fayne layt.

A new story I can tell you
that happened not far from here.
A groom was drowned from his bride
and from one of the finer families.

Fil toyznter mentshn zenen shpatsirn gegangen,
di zun zetst zikh vos amol arop.
Fun yener zayt taykhele, shteyt a sheyne kale
zi yomert, zi veynt,  zi klogt.

Thousands of people were strolling along,
the sun was slowly setting.
On the other side of the river
stands the bride, crying and moaning.

Ven me hot im funem taykhl aroysgenemen
fun di fishelekh iz er geven tsebisn,
Vi di kale hot im nor derzen
di kleyder fun zikh hot zi tserisn.

When they pulled him out of the river
he was bitten all over by the fish.
As soon as the bride saw this
she tore her clothes.

Oy mentshn ir gite, oy mentshn getraye,
ir gedenkt dokh vos far a kleyder er hot getrogn.
Tselteylt di kleyder far oreme laytn
me zol nokh im kadish zogn.

Oh good people, oh dear people,
you remember, of course, the clothes he wore.
Donate the clothes to the poor people,
so they can say Kaddish for him.

אַ נײַע געשיכטע קען איך אײַך דערציילן
וואָס ער האָט זיך געטראָפֿן דאָ נישט ווײַט.
אַ חתן האָט זיך דערטראָנקען פֿון זײַן כּלה,
דערצו פֿון די פֿײַנע לײַט.

פֿיל טוינזטער מענטשן זענען שפּאַצירן געגאַנגען,
די זון זעצט זיך וואָס אַ מאָל אַראָפּ.
אויף יענער זײַט טײַכעלע, שטייט אַ שיינע כּלה,
זי יאָמערט, זי וויינט, זי קלאָגט.

ווען מע האָט אים פֿונעם טײַכל אַרויסגענומען,
פֿון די פֿישעלעך איז ער געווען צעביסן.
ווי די כּלה האָט אים נאָר דערזען,
די קליידער פֿון זיך האָט זי צעריסן.

אוי מענטשן, איר גיטע, אוי מענטשן געטרײַע,
איר געדענקט, דאָך, וואָס פֿאַר אַ קליידער ער האָט געטראָגן.
צעטיילט די קליידער פֿאַר אָרעמע לײַטן,
מע זאָל נאָך אים קדיש זאָגן.

5 Responses to ““A naye geshikhte” performed by Lifshe Schaechter-Widman”

  1. Karen Sobul Says:

    Love this website!

  2. I love this blog too, but I wish I could hear the songs. Are they on the blog but unable to be heard on my ipad2?

    • Yes almost every posting has a streaming mp3 track (the rest have have embedded YouTube videos). This is the first we’ve heard of problems with ipad2 – you might look to see if WordPress has posted anything about it.

  3. Chana Mlotek’s bibliography to this song:
    24. ״שװארצע װאלקן האבן דעם הימל פארצויגן״ באצייכנט ,יי כהן)ני 25 אין די
    שטודיעס(. פ״גל באסטאמסקי, ז׳
    60, נ׳ 11; הערשל בלומפילד און הערשל געלפאר,,דער דערטרונקענער חתן – א
    ילדיש פאלקסליד״, ייווא־בלעטער 1952) 36(, זז׳ 372-370; בערעגאווסקי, ז׳
    158, נ׳ 106; יידישער פאלקלאר 28; כהן 10-8; מלאטעק־באלאדע, זז׳ 244-243; פיפע־גאליציע 11; צייטשריפט ז׳ 817, נ׳ 51. פרץ באזירט א ״ראמאנצערא״ אויף דעם ליד )פרץ אלע ווערק, ב׳ 192 ,1; זען דעם פארגלייך אין שטודיעס זז׳
    120-118(. מוזיק געדרוקט אין כהן 8.

  4. […] Lifshe Schaechter-Widman (LSW) introduces this song as a children’s song, and it seems that a number of her children’s songs are adapted dance tunes either from Jewish or Ukrainian melodies. In this case one can easily identify the melody as a kolomeyke*, a couples dance from Ukraine/Eastern Poland/Galicia, referring to the Ukrainian city known as “Kolomey” in Yiddish, and “Kolomyia” in Ukrainian. […]

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