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“Shtey ikh mir in ayn vinkele” Performed by Itka Factorovich Sol

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 29, 2017 by yiddishsong

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman.

This week’s Yiddish Song of the Week is a submission from Steve Balkin – a 1958 recording he made in Detroit on a Webcor reel to reel tape recorder of his grandmother, a wonderful singer, Itka Factorovich Sol.

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Itka Factorovich Sol (left), pictured with her younger sister Channa-Leya “Lizzie” Factorovich in the City of Chernigov, Ukraine, ca. 1910. Courtesy of Steve Balkin.

Balkin writes the following about her:

My bubbe Itka Factorovich Sol (shortened from Zolotnitsky) was from Chernigov, Ukraine (Ukrainian – Chernihiv, Yiddish – Tshernigov) but it might have been Russia then. She spoke Russian and Yiddish, and a little English. She and my zeyde Nathan Sol (Nauach Zolotnitsky), living in Neshin, migrated to Chicago in 1912 and owned and ran a fish store. Up above the fish store lived Menasha Skolnick’s sister. Later in 1955 she moved with us to Detroit. Since my mother worked, she spent a lot of time raising me. She kept a kosher house, sang a lot of lullabies, and was a great baker and cook.  I still have the taste of her taiglach (small, knotted pastries boiled in honey) on my tongue. 

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Itka Factorovich Sol (center) with her sisters at a party in New York City, 1948. Courtesy of Steve Balkin.

This is yet another Yiddish song about a drunk who has a conversation with the moon and beats his wife. (See: “Ekh zits mir in shenkl” [“I sit in the tavern”] sung by Michael Alpert on the CD The Upward Flight: The Musical World of S. An-sky and the commentary there.) In fact the number of Yiddish songs about drunks is large enough to form its own section – “Shikurim-lider” – in Folklor-lider vol. 2, Moscow, 1936.

In this song the singer refers to the “monopol”. The liquor store in Russia under the Czar was referred to as the “monopol”, since the Czarist regime had full control over it.

I found two textual variants of this song, and screen shots of them are included at the end of the post. “Epes tut mir mayn harts zogn” is found in Skuditski/Viner Folklor-lider Moscow, 1933, page 141, #12. “Monopol, monopol” is in Skuditski/Viner Folklor-lider, vol. 2 , Moscow 1936, page 263-264, #5.

Thanks to David Braun for assistance with the Yiddish text.

Shtey ikh mir in ayn [=a] vinkele
eyner aleyn.
In mayne oygn iz mir fintster;
ze nit vuhin tsu geyn.

Shiker iz di gantse velt.
S’zet zikh (?) dokh aleyn
un di veg iz mir farshtelt.
Ikh ze nit vuhin ikh gey.

Ot ersht, ot ersht hot di levone geshaynt.
Zi hot azey likhtik geshaynt.
Mit a mol hot zi ir ponim farshtelt
Azey vi unter [=hinter] a vant.

Di levone vil a bisele bronfn,
A make hot zi gelt.
Hot zi zikh far mir farshemt
un hot ir ponim farshtelt.

Levone, levone, kum aher,
ikh vel dir epes zogn.
Di velt lozt zikh nokh nit oys;
Ikh ken dir an eytse gebn.

Ikh hob far dir ayn [=a] gutn plan.
Du zolst mikh nor oyshern.
Kum mit mir in monopol,
Farzetsn a por shtern.

Epes tut mir haynt mayn harts zogn
gor a naye zakh.
Ikh vil haynt mayn vayb shlogn.
Es vet zayn zeyer glaykh.

Di letste fleshl fun tsu kopnl
nemt zi bay mir aroys
un trinkt oyset biz ayn [=eyn] tropn
un lozt mir gor nit oys.

Just standing in a corner
all alone.
My eyes see darkness,
I don’t see where to go.

The whole world is drunk.
That everyone can see.
And the road is hidden.
I cannot see where to go.

Just now, just now the moon was shining,
She shone so brightly.
Suddenly she covered her face,
as if behind a wall.

The moon wants a little whiskey.
But money she has none.
So she was shamed before me,
and covered up her face.

“Moon, moon come over here
I want to tell you something.
The world is not coming to an end;
So let me give you some advice.

I have for you a good plan
Please hear me out.
Come with me to the “monopol”  [=liquor store]
We’ll pawn a few stars.”

Something told my heart today
something brand new.
I want to beat my wife;
that will be well deserved.

The last bottle that’s by my head
She takes away from me.
She drinks it down to the last drop
and leaves me none.

 

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“Epes tut mir mayn harts zogn” is found in Skuditski/Viner Folklor-lider Moscow, 1933, page 141 #12:

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“Monopol, monopol” is in Skuditski/Viner Folklor-lider, vol. 2 , Moscow 1936, page 263-264, #5:

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“Di gantse velt iz hevl-havolim” Performed by Lillian Manuel

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 6, 2012 by yiddishsong
 
Commentary by David/Dovid Braun
 
 
Lillian (“Libby”) Manuel née Schwartz was born in or around 1910 in the town of Sukhovolye (Polish:  Suchowola), now northeastern Poland by the border with Belarus (a.k.a. White Russia), where she was originally known as Libe Shvarts or, among her townspeople, “Libe Yankl dem shvartsns” – ‘Libe, Black Jake’s [daughter]’).  She immigrated to Philadelphia in 1926 and later lived with her family in New York City and northern New Jersey.  She died in 1990.
 

 
“Yiddish-vokh” at the Workmen’s Circle “Circle Lodge”, NY 1987.  Libby Manuel is in the middle of the front row. Shirley Manuel top row at left. Dovid Braun is in the second to last row in a striped shirt.
Photo courtesy of Itzik Gottesman (click to enlarge).
 
She would reminisce about having sung all the time with her two elder sisters, Maryashe and Khay-Sore, who raised her, as their mother had died when Libe was in her very early childhood and their father was rarely home during the week, instead on the road in neighboring villages trading in hemp and other fibers which were used for rope and pig hair which was used for brushes.  From what she recounted, the sisters kept a home-made songbook into which they’d write the lyrics to songs they’d learned.
 
I am her grandson.  As I was growing up, I recorded her singing in the late 1970s through the late 1980s.   In 1980 she suffered a stroke which significantly affected her pitch and the strength of her voice, but her melodies were still generally discernible and her memory of long texts remained prodigious.  Her love and habit of singing inspired her daughter, Shirley (Yiddish:  Zelde-Leye) Manuel, to a musical career as a violist and teacher of string instruments, just as her attachment to Yiddish language, lore, and letters inspired her grandson.
 
I recorded my grandmother performing Di gantse velt iz hevl-havolim (The Whole World is Vanity of Vanities) in the latter half of the 1980s. Variants can be found in the folkloristic literature, sometimes under the name based on a slightly differing first stanza, “Hevl iz havolim” (‘Vanity is vanities’) or “Un Hevl iz Havolim‟ (‛And Vanity is Vanities‛).  One version was typically performed, as her signature song, by the late activist for secularist Yiddishism Gerry Revzin of the Chicago area (thanks to the late Max Rosenfeld of Philadelphia for this information).  A particularly long version appears in print in Ginzburg-Marek (song #124, no melody); others are in Beregovski-Fefer 1938 (pages 384 – 385 with melody), Ruth Rubin’s Voices of a People (pages 54-55). I. L. Peretz cites the song in his essay ‟Dos yidishe lebn loyt di yidishe folkslider‟ (Jewish Life As Reflected in Yiddish Folksongs), YIVO-bleter 13:1-2 (1937). In volume 9 of Idelsohn‘s Thesaurus of Hebrew Oriental Melodies, page 178, a verse with a different melody is printed.
 
All versions of this song are introduced by the Hebrew and Yiddish phrase that corresponds to those words beginning and ending the biblical book of Ecclesiastes, namely, “Vanity of vanities!” (or in other translations:  “Absurdity of absurdities!”, “Futility of futilities!”, “Utter meaninglessness!”,  “Sheer emptiness!”).
 
According to Mrs. Manuel’s account, this song was beloved by her next-door neighbor in her shtetl, her sickly Aunt Itke, who would frequently warm herself by the oven and would have Libe entertain her with this song.  Mrs. Manuel believed there was a continuation to the song but didn’t know any more of it herself.  In the recording presented here, the melody of the first two stanzas is slightly different from how she sang it on other recorded and unrecorded occasions, and in hevl-havolim, we hear a diphthong in the first syllable ([eyvl]) which, again, was not her typical way of pronouncing or singing that first word – it was usually [evl]. Her dialect lacks [h].
 
Di gantse velt iz hevl-havolim,
un di velt iz nor a kholem,
un a kholem iz di velt,
un zi shteyt dokh nor on gelt.
 
The whole world is vanity of vanities
and the world is just a dream
and a dream is the world
and it’s constantly without money.
 
Un far gelt koyft men bir,
un vos dray iz nit fir,
un vos fir iz nit dray, 
un vos alt iz nit nay.
 
And for money one buys beer
and three is not four
and four is not three
and what is old is not new.
 
Un vos nay iz nit alt,
un vos varem iz nit kalt,
un vos kalt iz nit varem,
un vos raykh iz nit orem.
 
And what is new is not old,
and what is warm is not cold,
and what is cold is not warm,
and what is rich, is not poor.
 
Un vos orem iz nit raykh
un vos krum iz nit glaykh
un vos glaykh iz nit krum
un vos reydn iz nit shtum.
 
And what is poor is not rich,
and what is crooked is not straight,
and what is straight is not crooked.
and what is spoken is not mute.