Archive for gravestone

“Berl der alter shiker” Performed by Janie Respitz

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 1, 2017 by yiddishsong

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

The singer Janie Respitz  is a Yiddish educator and singer from Montreal. Janie incorporates her singing in her lectures and shares her passion and knowledge of Yiddish folklore with her concert audiences.

As she states at the beginning of this video-recording made in Montreal, July 2017, she learned Berl der alter shiker (Berl the Old Drunk) from the late Max Satin, a resident in the Jewish Geriatric Hospital in Montreal.


Berl der alter shiker is similar to a previous post Shtey ikh mir in ayn vinkele sung by Itka Factorovich Sol.  Respitz’s song is closer to the version found in Skuditski 1936 Monopol, monopol (scan of page attached) but the drunk does not have the conversation with the moon.

In his article Geyt a yid in shenkl arayn: Yiddish Songs of Drunkeness (Field of Yiddish: Fifth Collection, 1993), Robert A. Rothstein analyzes versions of the song and points out that the verse about the wife drinking the whiskey all up is from Velvl Zbarzher’s poem Der shiker (The Drunk) found in his Makel No’am  מקל נועם Vol. 3, Lemberg 1873. Shmuel-Zanvil Pipe also pointed this out in YIVO-bleter, 1939 (vol. 14: 339-667)  Perhaps we should consider the whole text a folklorized Zbarzher song?

TRANSLITERATION / TRANSLATION

“Hi, I’m Jamie Respitz. I learn this from the late Max Satin, a resident in the Jewish Geriatric Hospital, here in Montreal a number of years ago.”

Fun zint der monopol iz af der velt
bin ikh af im in kas.
Es kost mikh op a mayontik mit gelt
un ikh trink azoy vi fun a fas.
Ikh nem dos fleshele in mayne hent
un ikh klap dem koretsl aroys,
tsebrekht zikh dos fleshele in mayne hent
un der bronfn gist aroys.
Ay-ay-day-day….

Haynt vel ikh mit mayn vaybele zikh tsekrign
Zi vet nokh hobn tsu gedenken.
Vifl mol ikh hob ir shoyn farshvign.
Haynt vel ikh ir nisht shenken.
Kh’ob genumen dos fleshele mit bronfn.
Geleygt hob im tsukopns.
Se khapt zikh oyf di ployneste baynakht,
un zi trinkt es oys bizn letstn tropn.
Ay-ay-day-day

Oy vey, reboyne-shel-oylem.
Du bist dokh a hartsiker rikhter.
Zol shtendik regenen mit bronfn un mit bir.
Ikh vil keyn mol nisht zayn nikhter.
Af mayn keyver zol zayn ongegosn.
Mit bronfn un mit bir.
Dos iz bay mir der iker.
Un af mayn matseyve zol sshteyn ongeshribn –
“do ligt Berl der alter shiker.”
Ay-day-day…

do ligt Berl der alter shiker.

Since the “monopol” [Czarist controlled liquor stores/pubs] is in the world
I am angry at it.
It costs me a fortune of money
and I drink as if from a barrel.
I take the bottle in my hand
and knock the cork out.
The bottle breaks in my hand
and the whiskey pours out.
Ay-day-day…

Today I will argue with my wife.
She will have what to remember [she will pay for it]
So many times I have told her to shut up
Today I will not spare her.
I took the bottle of booze
Put it at my head.
My wife wakes up at night
and drinks it all to the last drop.
Ay-day-day

O Master of the universe
you are a compassionate judge.
Let it always rain whiskey and beer
So I won’t ever have to be sober.
On my grave let them pour
whiskey and beer,
and on my gravestone it should be written –
“Here lay Berl the old drunk.”
Ay-day-day

Here lay Berl the old drunk. ​
Respitz1Respitz2respitz3

Monopol, monopol in Skuditski 1936:

monopol1monopol2

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“Afn beys-oylem” Performed by Lifshe Schaechter-Widman

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , on June 24, 2010 by yiddishsong

Notes by Itzik Gottesman

„Afn beys-oylem‟ (On the Cemetery) is a version of Mikhl Gordon‘s Di shtifmuter (The Stepmother). A complete text of the original in Yiddish can be found in the first volume of Antologye: finf hundert yor yidishe poezye edited by M. Bassin, 1917, pages 167 -169, and Perl fun der yidisher poezye edited by Joseph and Chana Mlotek, 1974, pages 29-31 (A translation of the Mlotek book into English by Barnett Zumoff – Pearls of Yiddish Poetry – was published a couple of months ago).

A similar version of this song is in Shmuel-Zanvil Pipe‘s collection „Yiddish Folksongs From Galicia‟ edited by Dov and Meir Noy and included in the Pipe-volume –  Folklore Research Center Studies, volume 2, Jerusalem, 1971. In that text, a verse which names the husband “Avrum” is also sung; so a distinct Galician/Bukovina variant is clear, which is very different from the much longer original (there is no mention of the father‘s name in Gordon‘s text).  But as sometimes, or perhaps often happens, the condensed folk-version has much more power and intensity. For other versions see note #9, p. 300, in the Pipe volume.

Mikhl Gordon, (Vilna, 1823 – Kiev, 1890) had a wonderful sense of humor (he was author of „Di bord‟). However, here he composed a moving, even shocking, portrait of the life of an orphan. Women folksingers had no problem singing this kind of song since it truly reflected the difficult times and hopelessly depressing family situations. Singing it today from a stage is another matter…

LSW‘s Performance

For more on singer Lifshe Schaechter-Widman (LSW) 1893-1974 click here.

I consider this song the epitome of LSW‘s slow, mournful vocal style brimming with ornamentation. You can also hear the reach and power of her voice, which seems to float, if you will.

She clearly flubs the second verse, singing only three out of four lines and does not rhyme the obvious „anider‟ and „glider‟. But she improvises a neat ending to the shortened verse and continues. Notice how she only repeats the last two lines in the final verse, the emotional highpoint of the song.

This recording was done by Leybl Kahn in New York City, 1954. Please note that the Yiddish dialect of the singer is more accurately reflected in the transliteration than in the Yiddish text. 

Af deym beys-oylem inter a mitseyve,
dort hert men eyn kol fun ayn toyter nikeyve.
Oy vey! Dort shrayt a miter – oy vey iz mir in vind,
Vos vil di shtifmame fin man eyn in eyntsik kind!?

On the cemetery under a gravestone,
You can hear the voice of a dead woman.
Oy vey! shouts the mother. Oy vey, woe to me.
What does the stepmother want from my only child?

Zi kimt aheym fin der gas, di groyse marshas,
zi varft im anider, zi heybt im of.
zi tsenemt im a yede glider.

She comes home from the street, the evil woman,
she throws him down, and lifts him up,
she breaks every part of his body.

Avrum, Avrum, di bist geveyzn mayn man.
dem yusemeles futer, oykh min-hastam.
Oy vey! Tsi iz dayn herts fin ayzn, in di aleyn fin shteyn,
Vi (azoy) kensti farnemen deym yusemls geveyn?

Avrum, Avrum, you were my husband.
and the father of the orphaned child, of course.
Oy vey, is your heart made of iron, and you made out of stone?
How can you stand the cries of the orphan?

אויפֿן בית־עולם (די שטיפֿמוטער)

אויף דעם בית־עולם אונטער איין מצבֿה,

דאָרט הערט מען איין קול פֿון אײַן טויטער נקבֿה.

אוי וויי! דאָרט שרײַט אַ מוטער — אוי וויי איז מיר און ווינד!

וואָס וויל די שטיפֿמאַמע פֿון מײַן איין און אייציקן קינד?!

.

זי קומט אַהיים פֿון דער גאַס, די גרויסע מרשעת,

זי וואַרפֿט אים אַנידער, זי הייבט אים אויף,

זי צענעמט אים אַ יעדער גלידער.

.

אַבֿרהם, אַבֿרהם, דו ביסט געוועזן מײַן מאַן

דעם יתומלס פֿאָטער, אויך מן־הסתּם.

אוי וויי! צי איז דײַן הערץ פֿון אײַזן, און דו אַליין פֿון שטיין,

ווי( אַזוי) קענסטו פֿאַרנעמען דעם יתומלס געוויין?