“Zets zikh avek bay dem ‘kitchen table'” Performed by Izzy Young
Zets zikh avek bay dem “kitchen table”
Performance by Izzy Young, Stockholm, Sweden
Recorded by Itzik Gottesman, May 2014.
Commentary by Itzik Gottesman
Izzy Young (born 1928) is a well-known figure in the history of the American folk music revival. His “Folklore Center” in Greenwich Village, established in 1957, often served as the first performance space for up and coming singers such as Bob Dylan.
He later moved to Sweden, and in 1973 he opened a “Folklor Centrum” in Stockholm. In May 2014 I recorded him in his storefront singing Zetz zikh avek bay dem ‘kitchen table’ to the melody of Hob ikh mir an altn daym. He explained that his father had owned a kosher bakery in the Bronx and this song was composed during a baker’s strike in the late 1920s or 1930s. Izzy Young’s mother Pola Young used to sing Yiddish songs and even performed them once in the 1960s at a folk music concert.
The melody of the Yiddish drinking song Hob ikh mir an altn daym itself borrows the melody of George Enescu’s “Romanian Rhapsody n. 1”, Op 11:
The words to “Hob ikh mir an altn daym” can be found in many Yiddish song books including the Mlotek’s collection Mir trogn a gezang.
Zets zikh avek bay der “kitchen table”
Esn a broyt mit der “union-label”
Take a seat at the kitchen table.
Eat some bread with the union label.
International union broyt
makht di bakn sheyn un royt.
International Union bread
makes the cheeks nice and red.
Spoken (possible second verse that Izzy Young tries to remember):
“And if you buy Union bread
may you live a long time…”