Archive for orphan

“S’iz shvarts in himl” Performed by Lifshe Schaechter-Widman

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 30, 2019 by yiddishsong

S’iz shvarts in himl / The Sky is Black by Avrom Goldfaden
Sung by Lifshe Schaechter-Widman.
Recorded by Leybl Kahn, Bronx 1954

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman: 

This song about Rebecca in the Bible is a folklorized version of a song written by Avrom Goldfaden. It appears, text only, in his volume Dos yidele, where it is called “Rivkes toyt” (Rebecca’s Death, see scans below). Before the poem, Goldfaden gives this introduction:

In the midrash it says: When Rebecca died, they had to bury her at night so that Esau would not see and follow her to the burial. For if he did so, she would be cursed for having such a son. Jacob had run away to Horon and Isaac was too old. So no one accompanied her at her funeral. 

rebeccacoro“Rebecca at the Well”, painting by Corot, 1839

The midrash addresses the question – why was Rebecca’s death not mentioned in the Torah?

Goldfaden was a master of creating songs that resonated with Yiddish folklore. Though this song is about Biblical figures, it resembles a typical Yiddish orphan song. The second line “S’iz a pakhed af der gas aroystsugeyn” (It is a fright to go out in the street) is the exact same as the second line in the ballad “Fintser glitshik shpeyt ba der nakht“, the first song ever presented on Yiddish Song of the Week. And the last line “Elnt blaybsti du vi a shteyn” (Alone you remain like a stone) is found in other Yiddish orphan songs. In this case, biblical Jacob is the orphan. LSW, in her slow, emotional and mournful style, sings this song about Biblical characters as if it reflected a contemporary, local tragedy.

Two textual changes worth noting:

1) Instead of Goldfaden’s “A mes, a mes” א מת, א מת  (A corpse, a corpse), Lifshe sings “emes, emes” (true, true) אמת אמת. which just by combining the two words into one word, changes the meaning completely. This reminds us of the Golem legend in which “emes” אמת [truth] was written on the Golem’s forehead, but when he was no longer needed, the rabbi wiped off the first letter, the alef א and the Golem became dead מת

2) LSW sings “miter Rukhl” (mother Rachel) instead of “miter Rivke” (mother Rebecca). This can be explained, I believe, by the fact that the appellation “muter/miter Rukhl” is far more common than “muter Rivke”. I  did a Google Search in Yiddish to compare both and “muter Rukhl” won 453 – 65. The Yiddish folksinger would have found the phrase “muter Rivke” strange to the ear. In addition, the matriarch Rachel also had an unusual burial: she was buried far from home, on the road to Efrat, and therefore all alone, as Rebecca.

In the papers of the YIVO Ethnographic Commission there is a version of the song collected in the 1920s or 1930s, singer, collector and town unknown. There too the singer changed “a mes” to “emes” but sang Rivke not Rukhl.

TRANSLITERATION

S’iz shvarts in himl me zeyt nit kayn shtern.
S’iz a pakhid af der gas aroystsugeyn.
Shvartse volkn gisn heyse trern
un der vint, er bluzt mit eyn geveyn.

Emes, emes, ersht nisht lang geshtorbn.
Etlekhe mentshn geyen trit ba trit.
Me trugt deym toytn, ersht a frishn korbn:
indzer miter Rukhl, ver ken zi nit?

Yankl iz dekh fin der heym antlofn.
Er shluft dekh dort af deym altn shteyn.
Shtey of di yusem! Di host dekh shoyn keyn mame nisht.
Elnt blabsti du vi a shteyn.

TRANSLATION

The sky is black, no stars can be seen.
It’s a fright to go out in the street.
Black clouds gush hot tears
and the wind blows with a great cry.

True, true she died not long ago.
Several people walked step by step.
They carry the deceased, a fresh sacrifice:
our mother Rukhl, who doesn’t know her?

Jacob had run away from home.
He sleeps on that old rock.
Wake up you orphan! You no longer have a mother.
You remain alone like a stone.

siz shvarts 1siz shvarts 2

From Goldfadn’s Dos yidele, 1891:

goldfadn1
goldfadn2
goldfadn3
goldfadn4.png
goldfadn5

Advertisements

“S’iz gekimen di heylike teyg” Performed by Lifshe Schaechter-Widman

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 9, 2015 by yiddishsong

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

S’iz gekimen di heylike teyg (The Holy Days Have Arrived) is a song that takes place before Rosh-hoshone and Yom-kipper when it is a tradition to visit the departed family at the cemetery.

YIVO

Photo courtesy of the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research

In the cemetery, a voice is heard of a recently deceased woman who died in childbirth, and she sings of her anguish about her new born child and her husband whom she loved.

S’iz gekimen di heylike teyg
Ven me darf geyn af keyver-oves
Az ikh bin gekimen in halbn veg
Hob ikh mikh dermont in mane makhshoves.

Plitsem hert men a kol
fin a frishn korbn.
Fin a yunger kimpiturin.
Vus iz ersht nisht lang geshtorbn.

Vi iz mayn yinger man?
Ver vet im arimnemen?
Vi iz mayn pitsele kind?
Ver vet im zeygn gebn?

Az ikh dermon mikh in der tsayt
Ven gehat hob ikh es [epes?] tsu krign.
Az ikh dermon mikh in der tsayt
Fin mayn man, fin mayn libn.

The holy days have arrived
time to visit family in the graveyard
When I was half way there,
I remembered my ruminations.

Suddenly a voice is heard
from a fresh victim:
A woman who died in childbirth
Just a short while ago.

Where is my young husband?
Who will embrace him?
Where is my little child?
Who will breastfeed it?

When I am reminded of that time
when I had what I wanted.
When i think of that time,
Of my husband whom I loved.sizgekumen1sizgekumen2

When one thinks about love songs in Yiddish, the vast majority are sung by unmarried girls who dream of the man they love and how wonderful life will be after the wedding. Few are the songs, such as this, in which the woman openly expresses love for her young husband. Lifshe Shaechter Widman’s (LSW’s) powerful emotional style matches the words perfectly.

In this case, the wife sings of her love from her grave and the song immediately reminds us of another song performed by LSW, Afn beys-olyem, also known as Di shtifmuter and originally penned by Mikhl Gordon.

In addition to this field recording of LSW made by Leybl Kahn in the Bronx, 1954, there are two other published versions of S’iz gekimen di heylike teg. One, collected by Shmuel-Zaynvil Pipe in Galica, does indeed take one verse taken from Gordon’s song. see Dov Noy and Meir Noy, Yidishe folkslider fun galitsye (Tel Aviv, 1971), page 110 – 112.

In Pipe’s version the song is strictly an orphan song and has a refrain.

Pipe1Pipe2

The second version can be found in Shloyme Bastomski’s song collection, Baym kval – folkslider, Vilna, 1923 (page 81, song #22) and he calls it Di shtifmuter, the same title as Gordon’s song. This second version emphasizes the wicked step-mother who will mistreat the child.

bastomski- heylike teg

“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.

“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?