Archive for January, 2013

“Dos fleshl/Tshort vos’mi” Performed by Jacob Gorelik

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 25, 2013 by yiddishsong

Commentary by Jane Peppler

Researching “Cabaret Warsaw,” a cd of music created and performed by Jews in Warsaw between the wars, I was pointed to a 1929 book called “35 letste teatr lider fun Azazel un Sambatiyon” (Azazel and Sambatiyon being two kleynkunst venues popular at the time). I found the book at Brooklyn’s Chasidic “Library Of Agudas,” along with six tiny books of theater songs and monologues (lyrics only) published in 1933 and 1934 by bookseller and record shop owner Itzik Zhelonek (Zielonek). I decided to track down the melodies for as many of these songs as possible (for more information click here); Itzik Gottesman sent me a version of one of them sung by Jacob Gorelik – this week’s Yiddish Song of the Week, known as “Dos fleshl” (the bottle) or “Tshort vos’mi” (The Devil Take’s It).
fleshele pic

Gorelik learned the song from a guy in Central Park – back when it was a place people went to “sing and play” (he contrasted that to its present reputation as a place to buy drugs). He didn’t know the man, or where the song came from, but he said it shares its melody with the Russian song “Kare Glaski” (“Brown Eyes,” see Russian lyrics below).

The words Gorelik sang were quite different from the lyric printed in “35 letste teatr lider” (texts to both versions are below). Sometimes singers “folk process” what they’ve heard, or they forget the words and re-imagine them from scratch.

Here is the song as sung by Jacob Gorelik, recorded in his NYC apartment, 1985, by Itzik Gottesman:

Gorelik’s spoken introduction, transcribed and translated by Itzik Gottesman:

Dos Fleshl introduction YiddishA special genre of songs are about drunks. Because, basically, the background of every drunk is a sad one: a person is not born drunk – troubles, bad habits, bad family; the father was a drunk. And here we have a song of a drunk, and he tells us, more or less, of his life. I don‘t know the father, the mother [of the song]; I don‘t know who wrote the song and who created the melody. Possibly it‘s an old theater song, very possiblew but it has the taste of a folksong. I heard it my first years in America in Central Park. I lived then at 110th street, near the park. And in those years the park was not just a place to sell drugs, or for other deviates. The park was the for the youth. We came and sang, played, sang. We were not afraid. We even slept there till 2:00 at night near the reservoir. And there I heard someone sing this song of a drunk. I don‘t remember his name.

The song of a drunk – ‘Tshort Voz’mi’, which means – The Devil Take It.
Gorelik’s version, transcribed and translated by Jane Peppler:

Yo, hob ikh in der velt alts farlorn
A yosim geblibn bin ikh fri
Mayne fraynt hob ikh, hob ikh shoyn lang farlorn
Mayn fraynt iz nor dos fleshl, tshort voz’mi

I’ve lost everything in this world,
I was orphaned at an early age.
I lost my friends long ago,
Only my bottle is my friend
The devil take it.

Ikh hob a mol a nomen gehat
azoy vi di greste aristokrasi
un haynt hob ikh im shoyn lang fargesn
vi ruft men mikh, freg baym fleshl, tshort voz’mi

I used to have a name like the great aristocrats
Now I’ve forgotten my former reputation,
What people call me now, ask the bottle
The devil take it.

Ikh hob a mol a heym gehat
Ergets vayt, ikh veys nisht vu
Haynt gey ikh arum na venad
Vu iz mayn heym?
Freg baym fleshl, tshort voz’mi

I used to have a home somewhere
Far away, I don’t know where.
Now I go around without a homeland.
Where is my home? Ask the bottle.
The devil take it.

Ikh hob a mol a gelibte gehat
Iz zi dokh tsu a tsveytn avek
Un haynt hob ikh fil, un lib nisht keyner
Mayn gelibte iz nor dos fleshl, tshort voz’mi

I used to have a sweetheart,
She’s left me for someone else.
And now I have so much, but I don’t love anybody
My sweetheart? Just this bottle.
The devil take it.

Here is the text printed in the 1929 collection:

Geven bin ikh a mentsh eyner
Bakant geven in der gantser velt
Haynt iz far mir alesding farlorn
Tsulib dir, mayn fleshele, okh! Tshort vosmi!

I used to be well known in the whole world
Now everything is lost to me because of you, my bottle,
The devil take it

Gehat hob ikh a kale Gitele
Antlofn iz zi, der tayvl veyst vu
Zi hot mir geton mayn lebn derkutshen
Tsulib dir, mayn fleshele, okh! tshort vosmi!

I had a bride, Gitele,
She’s run away, the devil knows where
She tormented my life thanks to you, my bottle
The devil take it

Men varft mir shteyner nokh in di gasn
“Shlogt im!” shrayt men, “dem bosyak.”
Zogt mir, menshn, farvos tut ir mikh hasn?
Tsulib dir, mayn fleshele, okh! Tshort vozmi!


People throw stones at me in the street.
“Hit that bum,” they cry,
Tell me, people, why do you hate me?
Because of you, my little bottle,
Oh, the devil take it.

Vu iz mayn foter? Vu iz mayn muter?
Vu iz mayn heymat, zogt mir vu?
Fun vandern iz mir shoyn mayn lebn farmiest
Tsulib dir, mayn fleshele, okh! Tsort vozmi!

Where is my father? My mother?
My homeland? Tell me, where?
My life is ruined by wandering,
Because of you, my little bottle
The devil take it.

S’vert mir erger in di letste tsaytn
Kh’bin shoyn alt un krank un farshmakht
Un, ikh shtarb avek, mayne libe laytn,
durkh dir, mayn fleshele, oy, a gute nakht!

Lately things have gotten worse for me,
I’m old and sick and languishing
I’m dying, my dear people,
Because of you, my little bottle,
oy, good night!

Yiddish text – Gorelik’s version:

dos fleshele yiddish 1

dos fleshele yiddish 2

Карие глазки (Brown Eyes)

Карие глазки, где вы скрылись.
Мне вас больше не видать.
Куда вы скрылись, запропали,
Навек заставили страдать.

Выньте сердце, положите
На серебряный поднос.
Вы возьмите, отнесите
Сердце другу, пока спит.

Мил проснётся, ужахнётся.
Милый помнит обо мне.
Мил потужит, погорюет
По несчастной сироте.

“Dos daytshl” Performed by Lifshe Schaechter-Widman

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 7, 2013 by yiddishsong

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

The Yiddish Song of the Week is glad to be back after a brief hiatus caused by a hurricane-related telecommunications breakdown.

“Dos Daytshl”  (“The German Guy”) as sung by Lifshe Schaechter-Widman [LSW] (see previous posts for her biography) is linguistically the most complicated song yet posted.

The comic ballad is international and found in many languages and is known in the Child canon as “Our Goodman” (#274). The texts have remained remarkably similar through time and languages. My folklore professor at the University of Pennsylvania, Kenneth Goldstein, played us a field recording he had made of African-American kids in West Philadelphia singing a rap version of this ballad and the words were almost the exact ones as the Yiddish lyrics LSW sings.

In The Folks Songs of Ashkenaz (pp. 139 – 142) edited by Philip V. Bohlman and Otto Holzapfel (2001), the editors make an interesting comparison of a Yiddish version found in the Ginsburg-Marek collection to a German version collected in German colonies in southern Russia. Unfortunately, they only compare the texts, though several Yiddish versions with melodies have been printed (for example, one melody of a Yiddish version exists in Yidisher folklor, YIVO 1938). Their brief history of the ballad indicates that the German versions of the song came from a Scottish variant in late 19th century, and after it was published in a German almanac in 1790 it circulated much more widely.

There are many printed Yiddish versions of the song, most recently in Yiddish Folksongs from the Ruth Rubin Archive  (p. 30-31)  edited by Chana Mlotek and Mark Slobin. Their introduction refers to other printed Yiddish versions. On the Yiddish ballad in comparison to other international versions read Chana Mlotek’s “International Motifs in the Yiddish Ballad” in For Max Weinriech on his Seventieth Birthday. The Yiddish ballad was still popular into the 1930s in Eastern Europe.

Since LSW comes from the Bukovina, where Jews were fluent in Yiddish and German, the German element in the song has to be analyzed not just as Germanisms in a Yiddish text, but as to what these German words evoke when sung by a Yiddish folksinger who is performing a comic song making fun of a German. Does the singing of  “Eyns, tsvey, drey” and not “dray” which would be the correct form in both Yiddish and German, indicate a funny hypercorrection of a German based word in Yiddish?

Of course, it’s not just any German being made fun of here, but a German peasant or farmer. The Germanisms also imply that such a song about a cuckold would “never” be sung about a Jewish husband and wife. Since LSW usually sings slow mournful songs it’s refreshing to hear her sing a comic song with such gusto and drama.

Click here to listen to Lifshe Schaechter-Widman performing “Dos daytshl”

Dos daytshl
The German Guy

Kum ikh zikh arayn in kukhl
Gefin ikh zikh – okh un vey!
In kukhl hengen zeybls –
eyns un tsvey un drey.

I enter my kitchen
What do I find – woe is me!
In the kitchen are hanging swords,
One and two and twee.

Dan rukh ikh zikh mayn vaybkhin
“Kindkhin vos iz dos?
Vos far a zeybls hengen dort?
Akh vi ruft men dos?”

So I call in my wife
Dear child, what is this?
What are those swords hanging there,
What do you call them?

Hey, di lumpiker man,
vos zeystu zeybls dort?
Bratfanen zenen dort,
vos mayn muter shikt tsu mir.

Hey, you silly man,
what swords do you see there?
Frying pans are there
that my mother sent to me

Kum ikh zikh arayn in shtale,
gefin ikh zikh – okh un vey!
In shtale shteyen ferde –
eyns un tsvey un drey.

I enter the stalls,
and what do I find – woe is me!
In the stalls are standing horses,
One and two and twee.

Dan rukh ikh zikh mayn vaybkhin –
kindkhin vos iz dos?
Vos far a ferde shteyen dort,
akh vi ruft men dos?

So I call in my wife,
Dear child what is this?
What are those horses standing there,
what do you call it?

Hey, di lumpiker man,
dos zint kayn [?] ferdchen dort
milikh ki, zenen dort,
vos mayn miter shikt tsu mir.

Hey, you silly man,
Those are not horses there.
Milk cows are there,
that my mother sent to me.

Kum ikh zikh arayn in shloftsimer,
Gefin ikh zikh okh un vey!
In shloftsimer shlofn mener –
eyns un tsvey un drey.

I enter into the bedroom,
What do I find – Woe is me!
In the bedroom men are sleeping,
One and two and three.

Dan ruf ikh zikh mayn vaybkhin
kindkhen vos iz dos?
Vos far a mener shlofn dort –
akh vi ruft men dos?

So I call in my wife,
Wife, what is this?
What men are sleeping there,
How do you call this?

Hey, di lumpiker man,
vos rifsti mener dort.
Dinstmegde zenen dort,
vos mayn muter shikt tsu mir.

Hey, you silly man,
what are calling men over there,
Servant girls are there,
that my mother sent to me.

Dinstmegde (n) mit bakn berd?
Okh un vey un vind
Vos far a man bin ikh bay dir,
az fremde mener komen tsu dir.

Servant girls with bearded cheeks?
Woe is me.
What kind of husband am I to you,
If strange men are visiting.

Daytshl 1
Daytshl2
Daytshl3
daytshl4