“Bay a taykhele” Performed by Feigl Yudin

Commentary by Ethel Raim and Itzik Gottesman

From Ethel Raim:

Feigl Yudin moved to the United States at the age of 14 from Grodna (Grodno) Gubernia, now in Belarus. Her parents stayed behind in Europe, so upon arriving to New York City she was housed by landslayt (contacts from her hometown), who took care of her until she was able to support herself. A skilled seamstress, Feigl continued working in the needle trades in the US for most of her life and was an active participant in the progressive labor movement.

When the Center presented the landmark concert with legendary clarinetist Dave Tarras on November 19, 1978, at Casa Galicia (now Webster Hall) in Manhattan, Feigl Yudin was a featured artist, among others. A native Yiddish speaker, she loved singing and was one of those people who could hear a melody for the first time and commit it to memory almost instantly.  She would say, “When I hear a melody it haunts me and I must get the words.” Feigl had a large repertoire of Yiddish songs which she learned both in Europe and in the US, and, as you will hear, was a beautiful singer.

From Itzik Gottesman:

This love song is a strophic lyric quatrain which is typical of the Yiddish tradition. (See accompanying booklet to LP Folksongs in the East European Tradition from the repertoire of Mariam Nirenberg Prepared by Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett with Mark Slobin and Eleanor Gordon Mlotek, 1986, pages 5 – 6).

Yudin’s repertoire was recorded by Ruth Rubin starting in 1948. Four of her songs are included in the volume Yiddish Songs from the Ruth Rubin Archive (2007) and her song “Ba a taykhele” begins the collection.

It states there that the song was collected in 1967 and other versions can be found in I. L. Cahan’s collection Yidishe folkslider mit melodyes (1957) and the volume by Beregovski and Fefer – Yidishe folkslider (1938).

The suggested parallel in Cahan (song #175) is not convincingly a variant of this song, but the Beregovski and Fefer version is the exact same as Yudin sings it, and I am inclined to think that Yudin learned it from an Amerucan leftist Yiddish chorus/choir where the songs from the Beregovski and Fefer songbook were quite popular.

Bay a taykhele vakst a beymele.
Vaksn af dem tsvaygn.
Mit alemen redstu, mit aleman bistu frayndlekh.
Nor mir heystu shvaygn.

Bay a taykhele vakst a beymele
Vaksn oyf dem blumen.
(Haynt) freg ikh dir libster – ven vestu shoyn kumen?
Ven vestu shoyn a mol kumen?

Bay a taykhele vakst a beymele
Vaksn af dem bleter
Freg ikh dir libster ven vestu shoyn kumen?
Leygst alts op af shpeter.

By a stream a small tree grows.
On it grows branches.
You talk to everyone; you’re friendly with all.
But me – you ask to be silent.

By a stream a small tree grows.
On it grows flowers.
(Today) I ask you my beloved – when will you come already?
When will come for once?

By a stream a small tree grows.
On it grows leaves.
I ask you my beloved when will you come already?
But you keep putting it off for later.

yudintaykhele

14 Responses to ““Bay a taykhele” Performed by Feigl Yudin”

  1. Dovid Braun Says:

    Thanks for making this available, Itsik and Ethel, and for providing your commentary! The melody is the one to which the David Einhorn poem “Nor a mame” is commonly sung. Here’s a performance with this melody and those lyrics. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TAG5uCVglNc

  2. itzik gottesman Says:

    Misha Alexandrovitch recorded this song. On the entry to the Freedman Jewish Sound Archive, it is noted that the melody is the same as “Nor a mame”.

  3. Hershl Hartman Says:

    Was Feygl Yudin related to B. Yudin, the labor editor of the morgn frayhayt?

  4. Hi Hershl – According to Ethel, Feygl’s husband Avrom Yudin worked for the frayhayt. Is this who you mean?

    • Hershl Hartman Says:

      Certainly. When I worked there (as the first native-born Yiddish reporter in history), Yudin was a highly-respected writer/editor, assisted by a younger person who covered meetings of locals in the needle-trades, building trades and furniture industries.

      • Avrom and Feigl were both recorded by Ruth Rubin. If we remember correctly, Avrom appears on the Folkways Jewish Songs from the Old Country Album.

  5. Leo Summergrad Says:

    The quality of Feigle Yudin’s voice, singing a little known song, so moved me. I hope there are more recordings of her, that you can post, at some time. The song, itself, is simple and sweet. In addition to. It being recorded by Mischa Alexandrovitch, it was also recorded by Inessa Galante, who also came from the Soviet Union. In addition to it being in Feffer and Beregovsky’s book, it is in a book by Max Goldin and Izaly Zemetsofsky, “Di Yiddishe Folks Lider”, that was published in Russia after the fall of the Soviet Union. it is also in a book, published in Warsaw, in 1927, “140 Folks Lider” by Menakhim Kipnes and Z. Zeligsfeld. Not to be left out, it can also be found in a notebook with brittle, yellowed pages that I assembled when I was a teenager. Oy!! What an addiction to Yiddish songs. The Soviet Union failed, but the brief period in which it permitted Yiddish culture to flourish, brought forth cultural treasures. More than ten years ago, Madeline Simon and I produced a recording, of some of those treasures, which we called,
    “Vi A Blitz”, to signify the short period in which it had a chance to sprout.

    • Hershl Hartman Says:

      Vu nemt men (where does one get) yours and Maddy Simon’s recording?

      • Leo Summergrad Says:

        The recording wasn’t professionally made. I have the only copies, not distributed. It can be found in the Freedman and YIVO collections.

  6. […] Presenting rare field recordings of master Yiddish folksingers. « “Bay a taykhele” Performed by Feigl Yudin […]

  7. […] is the third and, for the time being, the final song performed by Feigl Yudin at the 1978 Balkan Arts Center (now Center for Traditional Music and Dance) concert at Webster Hall […]

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