Archive for pain

“Der yold iz mir mekane” An Underworld Song Performed by Yetta Seidman

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 21, 2022 by yiddishsong

Der yold iz mir mekane / The fool envies me
A song from the Jewish underworld sung by Yetta Seidman
Recorded by Gertrude Nitzberg, Baltimore 1979, collection of Jewish Museum of Maryland

TRANSCRIPTION AND TRANSLATION 
(Yiddish transcription at the end of this post)

Der yold iz mir mekane. Der yold iz mir mekane.
Der yold iz mir mekane far mayn urem shtikele broyt.
Er vil fin gurnit visn, vi ikh ver oysgerisn
Es kimt mir un biter vi der toyt.

The sucker/fool/patsy envies me. The fool envies me.
The fool envies me because of my dismal piece of bread.
He doesn’t want to know how I suffer.
It is as hard for me as death.

Mayn mame in mayn tate, zey zenen geveyzn blate.
Fin kayn tsuris hob ikh bay zey keyn mol nit gevist.
Ven ikh bin gevorn elter, zenen zey gevorn kelter
in ganvenen hot zikh mir farglist.         

My mother and my father; they were in the underworld.
I did not know of any troubles with them.
When I got older, they became colder,
And I got the desire to steal.

Ikh gey aroys in market, in khap zikh tsi a pocket.
A mise-matn [mase-matn] hob ikh zikh dortn ungemakht.
Es kimt tsi geyn a yenta, in brengt mit zikh a mente
in in “Steyshun-hoyz” hot men mir gebrakht.

I go out into the market, and pick a pocket,
I committed a theft [literally – transaction]  over there.
A trouble-making woman comes over and brings with her a cop
and to the Station House I was brought.

In droysn geyt a reygn, in droysn geyt a reygn.
Se iz zikh shoyn ongefaln a kleyn bisele shney.
Ale mayne yurn in “prizin” upgezesn,
Az yeder eyver tit zikh mir shoyn vey.

Outside it’s raining; outside it’s raining.
A small bit of snow has already fallen
All of my years I spent in prison
So every part of me hurts.

COMMENTARY BY ITZIK GOTTESMAN

Probably the most popular of the Jewish underworld songs, there is an East European version and an American version. Seidman sings the American version which includes the English language words “market” “pocket” “station house” and “prison”.

Those words are not found in the East European version. But on both sides of the Atlantic the Yiddish underworld slang words are kept – “mente” (policeman), “blate” (criminal) “mase-matn” (a theft, a criminal act but literally “transaction”).

Image: M. Leizerowicz in the play “Motke Ganef” by Sholem Asch from the Yizkor (Memorial) Book of Piotrkow Trybunalski

The song often begins with the verse “In droysn geyt a regn mit a kleyn bisele shney” and for those grammarians out there – the first line is usually sung “Der yold iz mikh mekane”.

Another version of the song, with a slightly different melody can be heard in the YIVO Ruth Rubin archive. On this 78 rpm record Morris Goldstein sings the original (?) American version (1922):

The song is featured in the film “Image Before My Eyes” (1980) sung by Lillian (Leyele) Klempner. According to Lehman in his collection Ganovim-lider (1928), the song was written during the German occupation of WW1. Scans of Lehman’s version from Poland, words and music, are attached. Also see Jane Peppler’s comments on the song:

דער יאָלד איז מיר מקנא
געזונגען פֿון יעטע זײַדמאַ

.דער יאָלד איז מיר מקנא. דער יאָלד איז מיר מקנא
.דער יאָלד איז מיר מקנא מיט מײַן אָרעם שטיקעלע ברויט
.ער וויל פֿון גאָרניט וויסן, ווי איך ווער אָפּגעריסן
.עס קומט מיר אָן ביטער ווי דער טויט

.מײַן מאַמע און מײַן טאַטע, זיי זענען געוועזן בלאַטע
.פֿון קיין צרות האָב איך בײַ זיי קיין מאָל נישט געוווּסט
ווען איך בין געוואָרן עלטער, זענען זיי געוואָרן קעלטער
.און גנבֿענען האָט זיך מיר פֿאַרגלוס

.”איך גיי אַרויס אין “מאַרקעט” און כאַפּ זיך צו אַ “פּאַקעט
.אַ משׂא־מתּן האָב איך דאָרטן אָנגעמאַכט
עס קומט צו גיין אַ יענטע און ברענגט מיט זיך אַ מענטע
.און אין “סטיישאָן”־הויז האָט מען מיר געבראַכט

אין דרויסן גייט אַ רעגן, אין דרויסן גייט אַ רעגן
.אין דרויסן גייט אַ רעגן און סע איז זיך שוין אָנגעפֿאַלן אַ קליין ביסעלע שניי
אַלע מײַנע יאָרן אין “פּריזאָן” אָפּגעזעסן
.אַז יעדער אבֿר טוט זיך מיר שוין וויי

From Szmil Lehman, Ganovim lider : miṭ melodyes. Warsaw, 1928:

“Vi nemt zikh tse mir azoy fil trern?” Performed by Lifshe Schaechter-Widman

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 8, 2019 by yiddishsong

Vi nemt zikh tse mir azoy fil trern? / How did I get so many tears?
Sung by Lifshe Schaechter-Widman (LSW), recorded by Leybl Kahn 1954, NYC

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

Zwiniacze 040Zvinyetchke (Zwiniacza), Bukovina (now Ukraine),
hometown of Lifshe Schaechter-Widman

Another sad love song from the 1890s Bukovina repertoire of Lifshe Schaechter-Widman. This is not the only song in which she rhymes “shpekulirn” and “krapirn”, words which reflect her Austria-Hungarian upbringing. I have yet to find other versions or verses to the song.

Thanks to David Braun for help with this week’s post.

TRANSLITERATION

Vi nemt zikh tse mir azoy fil trern?
Tsi iz den mayn kop mit vaser fil?
Ven vet mayn veynen shoyn ofhern?
Ven vet mayn veytik shvaygn shtil?

Ikh heyb nor un mit dir tse shpekulirn
ver ikh krank un mid vi der toyt.
Oy, ver se shpilt a libe, der miz ying krapirn.
Geyn avek miz ikh fin der velt.

TRANSLATION

How did I get so many tears?
Is my head full of water?
When will my weeping cease?
When will my pain be silent.

When I just start to gamble with you,
I become deadly sick and tired.
O, whoever has a love affair will croak:
I have to leave this world.
Screen Shot 2019-04-08 at 10.20.11 AM

“In mayn hartsn brent a fayer” Performed by Lifshe Schaechter-Widman

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 5, 2018 by yiddishsong

In mayn hartsn brent a fayer / A fire burns in my heart
Sung by Lifshe Schaechter-Widman, recorded by Leybl Kahn, 1954 NY

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

Another lyrical love song sung by Lifshe Schaechter-Widman (LSW) from the Leybl Kahn recordings of 1954.

Katchor1Katchor2Lifshe Schaechter Widman & Leybl Kahn by Ben Katchor

Two similar versions of the song without the melody were collected by Shmuel-Zaynvil Pipe and Oyzer Pipe in Sanok, Galicia and published in the YIVO-bleter volume 11, Jan – May, 1937 in Yidishe folkslider fun Galitsye, page 62. I have mentioned before in this blog that of all the pre-World War Two collections of Yiddish folksong, the Pipe brothers’ Galicia, Poland, collections come closest to LSW’s Bukovina repertory.

Note that LSW sings “malekh- hamus”, which is her dialect form for “malekh-hamoves” (angel of death).

Regarding the comic strip above: the artist Ben Katchor imagined how these 1954 recording sessions might have looked in his advertisement for the cassette Az di furst avek. The strip appeared in the collection Picture Story 2 (NY. 1986, edited by Ben Katchor).

In mayn hartsn brent a fayer / A fire burns in my heart

TRANSLITERATION

In mayn hartsn brent a fayer
nor me zeyt nisht keyn royekh aroys.
Ekh hob gemeynt bist a malekh fin deym himl.
Tsum sof bisti mayn malekh-hamus

Mayne eltern tien mikh freygn,
vus ikh gey azoy arim  betribt.
Vi ken ikh zey mayn shmarts dertseyln,
az ekh hob mekh in dir farlibt.

Az ikh hob mekh in dir farlibt.
hot keyn shum foygl af der velt hot nisht gevist.
Haynt iz a rash in ale gasn,
az indzer libe iz imzist.

Az di libe iz imzist;
Es geyt mir azh un a geveyn.
Far veymen blaybt den di veytik
Az nisht nor bay mir aleyn.

TRANSLATION

A fire burns in my heart
but no smoke can be seen.
I thought you were an angel from heaven,
turns out you’re the angel of death.

My parents ask me
why I go around so sad.
How can I tell them of my pain –
that I have fallen in love with you.

That I have fallen in love with you –
not a bird the world over knew about it.
Today there’s much talk in all the streets
that our love is for naught.

That our love is for naught
keeps me crying.
With whom will stay this pain
if not only with me.

brent1

brent2

brent3

Shmuel-Zaynvil and Oyzer Pipe, Yidishe folkslider fun Galitsye, YIVO-bleter volume 11, Jan – May, 1937:
Pipe-brent

“Bay der fintsterer nakht” Performed by Lifshe Schaechter-Widman

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 3, 2012 by yiddishsong

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

A print version of Bay der fintsterer nakht can be found in I. L. Cahan “Shtudyes vegn yidisher folksshafung” YIVO, 1952, NY, in an article given the title for this volume “Peyrushim af 24 lider” that his student at the YIVO institute in Vilna, Shmuel-Zanvil Pipe, had prepared for publication. This article consisted of Cahan’s comments on Yiddish songs that Pipe had collected in his hometown of Sanok [in Yiddish “Sunik/Sonik”], Galicia. Pipe had collected a version of “Bay der fintserer nakht” in 1934 from a singer who said it was sung 30 years earlier. The song is in Cahan, 1952, page 185, and has three verses, rather than two verses and one refrain, as Lifshe Schaechter-Widman (1894-1974) (LSW) sings it.

According to interviews with LSW conducted by Prof. Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett, NYU, in 1972-73, the song was sung by the plagers/plogers (sufferers). The plagers were young Jewish men who were about to be inducted into the Austria-Hungarian army and wandered from town to town, usually in groups, so they would intentionally fail the draft because of their poor health. See my article “Plagers: a folkloristishe shtudye” [Plagers: a folkloristic study], Forverts, January 7th, 2010, page 4, which refers to the literature on plagers in Yiddish.

Lifshe Schaechter-Widman’s Hometown of Zvinyetchke, Bukovina, Ukraine
Photo by Itzik Gottesman, 2010

In this recording of LSW made by Leybl Kahn in New York City in 1954, she clearly sings the song too high in this performance, as can be heard in the last verse.

Bay der fintsterer nakht is unusual textually – it doesn’t fall into the usual categories of men’s songs – not religious, not political, not a work song, not humorous, not nationalist. It’s partly a lament on how miserable life is, and partly a love song; topics we would usually hear in women’s songs.

Bay der fintsterer nakht
lig ikh mir bayshtendik*, oy, un trakht.
zayt ikh bin fin mayn heym avek.
ikh ken shoyn nit kimen keyn kayn tsvek.
Ver se vil nit, dertsapt mir mayn blit.

In the dark night,
I lay constantly, oy, and think,
since I have left my home.
I cannot reach any goal.
Who ever wants can bleed me.

Oy, oy, oy, oy
Vi farbitert iz mir dus harts
Oy, oy, oy, oy
Ver ken den film mayn shmerts.
Derekh ayn imgliklekher libe
Imtsugeyn in di gasn aleyn,
Tsu zayn fin mayn heym fartribn.
Oy elnt bin ikh vi a shteyn.

Oy, oy, oy, oy
How bitter is my heart.
Oy, oy, oy, oy
Who can feel my pain?
Because of an unfortunate love,
I wander the streets alone.
To be driven from my home – 
Oy, lonely am I as a stone.

Mayn mame hot mikh gelozt shtudirn.
Zi hot gevolt az fun mir zol zayn a lat
Fun deym alemen hot zikh gur oysgelozt.
Ikh ti mir blind arimshpatsirn.
Elnt bin ekh, in na venad.

My mother allowed me to study,
She wanted something to become of me 
[lit – she wanted me to become a respectable person]
From all of this, nothing turned out.
Blindly I wander around,
lonely am I and homeless.

Oy, oy, oy, oy
Vi farbitert iz mir mayn harts
Oy, oy, oy, oy
Ver ken den film mayn shmerts?
un derekh a finsterer libe
arimtsugeyn in di gasn aleyn,
Tsu zayn fin mayn heym fartribn.
Oy, elnt bin ikh vi a shteyn.

Oy, oy, oy, oy,
How bitter is my heart
Oy, oy, oy, oy,
Who can feel my pain?
Because of a dark love
to wander in the streets alone.
To be driven from my home – 
Oy lonely am I like a stone.

*bayshtendik – though I am unfamiliar with this word, my mother, Beyle Schaechter-Gottesman (LSW’s daughter), and I assume it means the same as „shtendik‟.