Archive for humor

“Reb Tsudek” Performed by Itzik Gottesman

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 4, 2018 by yiddishsong

Reb Tsudek
Sung by Itzik Gottesman, recorded Nov 2018, Austin TX

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

I was asked to post the song “Reb Tsudek” as sung by the Yiddish poet Martin Birnbaum. He sang it to Michael Alpert and me in 1984-85 in NYC.  But, alas, I cannot find the original recording so I have recorded it myself.

Birnbaum was born in 1905 in Horodenke when it was Galicia in the Austro-Hungarian empire. Now it is in the Ukraine  – Horodenka. According to a NY Times obituary he came to the US in 1923 and died in 1986. In the YIVO Institute’s Ruth Rubin Legacy Archive, Birnbaum sings four songs but not this one. Those recordings were done in 1964.

I believe there is more Yiddish folklore to be discovered about this shlimazel (bad luck) character Reb Tsudek. When I asked the Yiddish poet Yermye Hescheles about him he affirmed that there was such a comic figure in Galicia, where both he and Birnbaum were from.

The song mocks the Hasidic lifestyle – absurd devotion to the rebbe, irresponsibility, staying poor. The word “hiltay” – defined by the dictionaries as “libertine” “skirt-chaser” “scoundrel” – is really a cue that this is a 19th century maskilic, anti-Hasidic, song. The word is often used in such songs. The humor also hinges on the double meaning of tsimbl both as a musical instrument (a hammered dulcimer) and as a verb – “to thrash or scold someone”.

couple tsimblA tsimblist, about to be thrashed by his wife.
(courtesy Josh Horowitz)

In the song two towns are mentioned: Nay Zavalek remains a mystery but Grudek, west of Lviv, is Grodek in Polish and Horodok in Ukrainian.

Here is a clip of Michael Alpert singing  the song, with Pete Rushefsky on tsimbl, Jake Shulman-Ment on violin and Ethel Raim singing at the Smithsonian Folkife Festival in Washington D.C.,  2013:

TRANSLITERATION

Fort a yid keyn Nay-zavalek,
direkt bizn in Grudek.
Fort a yid tsu zayn rebn – Reb Tsudek.
Tsudek iz a yid, a lamden.
Er hot a boykh a tsentn,
Un s’iz bakant, az er ken shpiln
of ale instrumentn.

Shpilt er zikh derbay (2x)

Fort a yid keyn Nay-zavalek
direkt bizn in Grudek.
Oy vey z’mir tatenyu!
Fort a yid keyn Nay-Zavalek
direkt bizn in Grudek.
Oy vey z’mir tatenyu!

Un Reb Tsudek, er zol lebn,
hot gehat a gutn shabes.
Tsudek hot gekhapt shirayem,
mit beyde labes.
Aheymgebrakht hot er zayn vaybl
a zhmenye meyern-tsimes.
Un dertsu, oy vey iz mir,
a tsimbl un strines.

“Hiltay vus iz dus!” (2x)

Oy hot zi getsimblt Tsudek
fun Zavalek bizn in Grudek.
Oy vey z’mir tatenyu!
Oy hot zi getsimblt Tsudek
fun Zavalek bizn in Grudek.
Oy vey z’mir tatenyu!

TRANSLATION

A man travels to Nay-Zavalek,
directly until Grudek.
The man is traveling to his rabbi,
Mister Tsudek.
Tsudek is a learned man,
and has a belly that weighs ten tons.
And everyone knows that he can play
on all the instruments.

So he plays as he travels –

A man travels to Nay-Zavalek
directly until Grudek,
Oh my, dear God!
A man travels to Nay-Zavalek
directly until Grudek,
Oh my, dear God!

And Reb Tsudek, may he be well,
had a good Sabbath.
Tsudek caught the Rebbe’s holy leftovers
with both paws [large, rough hands].
For his wife he brought home
a handful of carrot – tsimmes,
and in addition – oh no! –
a tsimbl with no strings.

Scoundrel! what is this? (2x)

Boy did she thrash Tsudek
from Zavalek until Grudek
Oh my, dear God.
Boy did she thrash Tsudek
from Zavalek unti Grudek
Oh my, dear God

tsudek1

tsudek2

tsudek3

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“Der Galitsianer caballero” Performed by Frahdl Post

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 14, 2018 by yiddishsong

Der Galitsianer caballero / The Caballero from Galicia
Performance by Frahdl Post, music: Frank Crumit, Yiddish lyrics:  Louis Markowitz
Recorded by Wolf Younin and Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett, Bronx 1975.

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

And now for something completely different…

In addition to knowing many old folksongs, Frahdl Post was an active performer who sang popular novelty and Yiddish theater songs. You can hear how much she enjoys singing one of those parodic, comic songs in this week’s blogpost. At one point in the recording, when she sings “mosquito” you can hear the interviewer Wolf Younin get very embarrassed by the cheeky words.

Der Galitsianer caballero aka Der Galicianer cavallero is a song first recorded by actor and singer Pesach Burstein (Paul Burstein, 1896 – 1986) on a 78 rpm record in 1929. Here is an mp3 of that recording (thanks to Lorin Sklamberg and the YIVO Sound archives):

DerGalicianer001

This song is a parody of the novelty song of 1928 written and sung by vaudevillian Frank Crumit – A Gay Caballero. “Caballero” in Spanish means “a gentleman,” while in the Southwest US it is also used to mean a “horseman.”

The Yiddish lyricist is Louis Markowitz who often wrote lyrics for Burstein and is also often credited as composer. Other Yiddish “Spanish” parodies by Markowitz for the Bursteins include Yiddish versions of “Quanta Lo Gusta” and “Mama Yo Quiero”. He also composed many Yiddish parodies for Banner records and Miriam Kressyn and Seymour Rechzeit and is certainly worthy of a more in-depth study as the king of Yiddish parody songs. According to a1951 Billboard article Der Galitsianer caballero was his first Yiddish parody. Henry Carrey who submitted the Frahdl Post recordings and is her grandson, transcribed the original Pesach Burstein version of 1929. We are attaching that transcription which should be consulted when listening to the field recording since Post sings some lines differently and some words are difficult to understand.

wilderOne of our favorite Yiddish caballeros

We have transcribed Post’s version and translated it and written it out in Yiddish as we always do. There is humorous wordplay in the Yiddish which we did not seriously attempt to duplicate in the translation.

Note: “Slek” is American/British Yiddish for the time when there is no work; from the English word “slack”.

Thanks this week to Lorin Sklamberg and the YIVO Sound Archives for the 78 recording and image, and to Henry Carrey.

1) Aleyn bikh ikh a Galitsyaner,
gevolt vern Amerikaner.
Nor, vi dortn iz “slek” – nokh Meksik avek.
in yetzt bin ikh a Meksikaner.

Myself, I am from Galicia,
wanted to be an American.
But since there was no work, I went off to Mexico
and now I am an Mexican.  

2) In Meksike iz git-o, yes-sir.
Me git dort a trink un a fres-sir.
Mit gur vaynik gelt, ken men brenen dort a velt.
Leybn vi Got in Odes-o.

In Mexico it’s good – Oh yes-sir.
One drinks and eats well.
With little money you can still live it up
and live like God in Odessa. 

3) Nor di payes getun a sherl,
gekoyft mir a “het” a sombrero
A royt zaydn hemd un di hor sheyn farkemt.
Ikh zug aykh kh’bin a “caballerl.”

I just cut-off my side locks
and bought a hat, a sombrero.
A red silk shirt and nicely combed hair.
I tell you I am a real caballero [gentleman] 

4) Ikh hob shoyn getun dortn ales.
kh’ob oysgezikht far mir a sheyne kale.
Di pekh shvartse hur, di shlanke figur.
Z’hot gebrent vi a heyse “tamale”.

I have already done everything there.
I have sought out for me a pretty bride.
With pitch black hair and a slender figure –
She burned like a hot tamale.  

5) Zi hot getantst mit ire fis un ire hento.
un geshoklt mit ir Sacrament-o.
Nokh a  por glezlekh vayn, gefilt hot zi fayn.
Bavizn ir gantsn “talent-o”.

She danced with her hands and her hands-o
and shook her Sacrament-o.
After a few glasses of wine, she felt fine.
and showed her best talent-o. 

6) Oy, di bist bay mir a “chikita.”
Mir gebisn azoy vi a “meskita.”
Z’hot geshvorn on a shir, tray blayt zi mir.
Farblaybt zi mayn seniorita.

O you are my “chiquita”
She bit me like a mosquito.
She swore with no end, that she would stay faithful to me.
And remain my seniorita. 

7) Ir libe is gevorn beshayter.
Geholdzt un gekisht un azoy vayter.
Nokh a kish gibn ir, zugt zi glakh tsu mir.
az zi hot du a man a “bullfighter”.

Her love became more wanton.
We necked and we kissed and so forth.
After I kissed her, she says to me,
that she has a husband, a bullfighter.  

8) Hert vi pasirt ot di sibe,
Ayn mol erklert zikh in libe.
Halt shoyn nuvnt mit ir, plitzling efnt zikh di tir.
Un ir man kimt arayn in der shtub-e. [shtib-e]

Listen to how this incident played out.
I declared my love for her
Was getting closer to her, when suddenly the door opens.
And her husband enters the room.

9) Ir man iz a rizת an “atlet-o”.
In hant halt er gor a “stilleto”.
Er hot mir ongekhapt, mayne beyner tseklapt.
Kh’bin geylgn tsvey vokhn in bet-o.

Her husband was a giant, an athlete-o
In his hand he holds a stillet-o.
He caught me and beat my bones.
I lay in bed for two weeks-o. 

10) Ikh shver, az ikh mayn nisht keyn vits-e
Ikh fil ven eykh shtay, ven ikh zits-e.
Tsu vern Mexikaner oder Amerikaner?
Fur ikh krik nokh Galitsye.

Tay-de-day-day-day-day…..

I swear that I am not joking.
I can feel it when I stand, when I sit.
Should I become a Mexican or American?
I am going back to Galicia.
galitzianer1

galitzianer2galitzianer3

burstein lyrics