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“Shikhelekh” Performed by Gertrude Singer and Manya Bender

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 22, 2021 by yiddishsong

“שיכעלעך/Shikhelekh/Shoes” – An early American Yiddish theater song that crossed the Atlantic and came back. First version sung by Gertrude Singer, recorded by Gertrude Nitzberg, Baltimore 1979 from the archive of the Jewish Museum of Maryland. Second version sung by Manya Bender, recorded by Ruth Rubin 1950, NYC, found at the Ruth Rubin Archive, YIVO.

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

“Shikhelekh” a song about a boy in an immigrant family desperate to get a new pair of shoes, is interesting because there are two versions: one with a sad ending and one with a happy ending.

The older version, 5 verses long, with the sadder ending was first printed in the 1897 compilation Di yidishe bine, ed. J. KatzenelenbogenNY. (A scan is attached). In this version the boy complains he cannot go to school barefoot and asks his father to buy a pair of shoes in the store next to his school. The song concludes with the father, “powerless”, crying together with the boy. This version was reprinted with the title “Papa mit dem shikhele” no date, in American Yiddish Penny Songs edited by Jane Peppler, 2015. (scan attached). We have not yet found recordings of this older version.

The newer version ( approx. 1916) with a “happy ending” concludes with a verse that relates how that young barefoot boy is now a lawyer and the girl he is with, playing “fortepian”, is his bride. The final refrain is:

Nu, Papa do you remember how eight years ago,
when I cried and begged you to buy me a pair of shoes.
Now I am a lawyer, and will make you happy for all of your years.

The singer, Gertrude Singer (1900 – 1979), recounts how she sang it often on the ship coming to America from Warsaw. In the Ruth Rubin Archive at YIVO, Manye Bender who learned the song in Bessarabia  “on the way to America.” also sings the new version.  Click here for her performance, beginning with the line “In droysn iz fintster”. 

The transcription, translation and Yiddish of both versions follows below.

It is not clear who the composer is of the older “unhappy” version. The Mloteks point out in their Forverts newspaper column that in the collection “Di yidishe bine” it is placed right after Morris Rosenfeld poems but it does not appear in his collected works. In the column on June 20, 1976, the music as remembered by a reader is also printed.

The later-adapted revision with the happy ending was the work of the singer Josef/Joseph Feldman around 1916. On a song sheet for “Shichalach” as sung by Moishe Oisher (no date), the words are credited to singer Joseph (Josef) Feldman (scans attached). But on page two, it is written “Version by Jos Feldman”, acknowledging his text as a revision of an earlier song. On a 78 rpm record (1916) Josef Feldman recorded it and one can hear it at the Florida Atlantic University “Recorded Sound Archives”

In 1938, Joseph Feldman published the Joseph Feldman’s Yiddish Theaterical Magaizine. The verses and music are published here.

The happy vs. sad ending of “Shikhelekh”  brings up an interesting point: could the generation after the original 1890s version no longer accept such a sad ending, and thus inspire the happy, nostalgic song conclusion of 1916?

Thanks this week to Jane Peppler, Steven Lasky and his Museum of the Yiddish Theater, the YIVO Sound Archives and the Judaica Sound Archives at Florida Atlantic University. 

TRANSLITERATION, TRANSLATION and YIDDISH

Shikhelekh sung by Gertrude Singer, recorded in 1979.

1 ) In droysn is fintster, in droysn iz nas,
un du gey ikh borves, ikh ken nisht geyn in gas.
Papa, ikh beyt mir far dir azoy fil mul.
koyf mir a pur shikhelekh. Ikh ken nisht geyn in “skul.”
Oy papa, di zolst dir oysbeytn a git yur.
Koyf mir, papele, shikhelekh a pur.  
Oy, koyf mir, papele, shikhelekh a pur.

2) Der papa blaybt shteyn mit a troyern [troyerik] geveyn
biz zayne trern faln afn kind aleyn.
“Kind mayns, du veyst vi azey ikh hob dikh lib.
Tsulib dayne shikhelekh vel ikh farpanen a kishn fun shtib.
Oy kind mayns, mir zoln shoyn nisht hobn mer keyn noyt.
Tsulib dayne shikhelekh hob [iz nishto] ikh nishto keyn broyt.
Orem mayn kind iz nokh erger vi der toyt.”

3) In di tsayt flit avek un es iz shoyn akht yur
Kik on [?] dem boychik, er vert shoyn a “loyer.”
Dort zitst a meydele vos zi shpilt pian.
Me zugt az dos meydele vet dem loyer’s kale zayn.
Nu, papa, gedenkstu tsurik mit akht yur
ven ikh hob dikh gebeytn far shikhelekh a pur.
Yetst bin ikh loyer un ikh makh dikh glikekh 
af ale dayne yor.

1) Outside it’s dark; outside it’s wet,
and I am walking barefoot; I can’t go in the street.
Papa, I’ve asked you so many times
to buy me a pair of shoes. I can’t go to school.
Oy papa, may you succeed in praying for a good year.
Buy me, papa, a pair of shoes
Oy, buy me, dear papa, a pair of shoes

2) Papa remains standing with a sad weeping,
until his tears drop on his child.
“My child, you know how much I love you:
because of your shoes, there is no bread.
To be poor is worse than death.”

3)  Time flies and it’s eight years later.
Look at the boy [?] – he is soon to be a  lawyer.
There sits a girl who plays grand piano.
They say that she will be the lawyer’s bride.
So, papa, remember eight years ago
when I begged you for a pair of shoes?
Now I am a lawyer and I will make you happy
all of your years.

שיכעלעך 
געזונגען פֿון גערטרוד זינגער
רעקאָרדירט פֿון גערטרוד ניצבערג
.אין דרויסן איז פֿינצטער, אין דרויסן אין נאַס

.און דאָ גיי איך באָרוועס, איך קען נישט גיין אין גאַס
,פּאַפּאַ, איך בעט מיר פֿאַר דיר אַזוי פֿיל מאָל
.קויף מיר אַ פּאָר שיכעלעך. איך קען נישט קיין אין סקול
.אוי, פּאַפּאַ, דו זאָלסט דיר אויסבעטן אַ גוט יאָר
.קויף מיר, פּאַפּעלע, שיכעלעך אַ פּאָר
“.אוי, קויף מיר, פּאַפּעלע, שיכעלעך אַ פּאָר

דער פּאַפּאַ בלײַבט שטיין מיט אַ טרויעריק געוויין
.ביז זײַנע טרערן פֿאַלֹן אויפֿן קינד אַליין
.קינד מײַנס, דו ווייסט ווי אַזוי איך האָב דיך ליב”
.צוליב דײַנע שיכעלעך, וועל איך פֿאַרפּאַנען אַ קישן פֿון שטוב
.אוי, קינד מײַנס, מיר זאָלן שוין נישט האָבן מער קיין נויט
.צוליב דײַנע שיך איז נישטאָ קיין ברויט
“.אָרעם, מײַן קינד, איז נאָך ערגער ווי דער טויט
און די צײַט פֿליט אַוועק און עס איז שוין אַכט יאָר

.קוק אָן דעם בויטשיק; ער ווערט שוין אַ לויער
.דאָרטן זיצט אַ מיידעלע, וואָס זי שפּילט פּיאַן.
.מע זאָגט, אַז דאָס מיידעלע, וועט דעם לויערס כּלה זײַן
,נו, פּאַפּאַ, געדענקסטו צוריק מיט אַכט יאָר”
?ווען איך האָב דיך געבעטן פֿאַר שיכעלעך אַ פּאָר
יעצט בין איך איצט לויער און איך מאַך דיך גליקלעך 
.אויף אַלֹע דײַנע יאָר.

TRANSLITERATION, TRANSLATION AND YIDDISH

Shikhelekh by Manya Bender

1) In droysn iz fintster, in droysn iz nas.
“ikh hob nit kayn shikhelekh tsu geyn oyf der gas.
Papa, ikh bet dir, azoy fil mol.
Koyf zhe mir shoyn, koyf zhe mir shoyn shikhelekh a por.
Koyf zhe mir shoyn, koyf zhe mir shoyn shikhelekh a por.”

2) S’iz avek gegangen a lange tsayt,
Dos kind iz gevorn a groyser advokat.
Er zitst mit zayn meydl, zey shpiln beyde pian.
di meydl zogt, zi vil zayn kale zayn.
“Papa, gedenkstu mit azoy fil yor tsurik.
Ikh hob dir gebeytn shikhelekh a por?
Un itst makh ikh dir gilklekh af ale dayne yor.” 

TRANSLATION of BENDER

1) Outside it’s dark, outside it’s wet
“I don’t have a shoes to go out in the street.
Papa, I’ve asked you so many times  
Buy me, buy me a pair of shoes.”

2)  A long time had passed.
The child became a big-time lawyer.
He sits with his girlfriend; they both are playing piano.
The girl says she wants to be his bride.
Papa, do you remember many years ago?
I asked you to get me a pair of shoes.
And now I will make you happy the rest of your days.

שיכעלעך 
געזונגען פֿון מאַניע בענדער
פֿון רות רובין-אַרכיוו, ייִוואָ

.אין דרויסן איז פֿינצטער, אין דרויסן איז נאַס”
.איך האָב ניט קיין שיכעלעך צו גיין אויף דער גאַס
,פּאַפּאַ, איך בעט דיך, אַזוי פֿיל מאָל
קויף זשע מיר שוין, קויף זשע מיר שוין
.שיכעלעך אַ פּאָר
קויף זשע מיר שוין, קויף זשע מיר שוין
“.שיכעלעך אַ פּאָר

.ס’איז אַוועק געגאַנגען אַ לאַנגע צײַט
.דאָס קינד איז געוואָרן אַ גרויסער אַדוואָקאַט
.ער זיצט מיט זײַן מיידל, זיי שפּילן ביידע פּיִאַן
.די מיידל זאָגט זי וויל זײַן כּלה זײַן
פּאַפּאַ, געדענסטו מיט אַזוי פֿיל יאָר צוריק”
?איך האָב דיר געבעטן שיִכעלעך אַ פּאָר
“און איצט מאַך איך דיר גליקלעך אויף אַלע דײַנע יאָר

Di yidishe bine, ed. J. Katzenelenbogen, NY (1897):

American Yiddish Penny Songs edited by Jane Peppler, 2015:

“Oy sheyn bin ikh a mol gevezn” Performed by Leah (Lillian) Kolko

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 28, 2019 by yiddishsong

Oy sheyn bin ikh a mol gevezn / O, I Was Once Beautiful
Sung by Leah (Lillian) Kolko, recorded in Camp Boiberik, Rhinebeck, NY by Beyle Schaechter-Gottesman, 1974

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

Leah Kolko remembers learning this song when active in the youth branch of the Poale-Zion organization in Paterson, New Jersey in the the early 1920s. The recording here was made at Camp Boiberik in 1974 by Beyle Schaechter-Gottesman.

Screen Shot 2019-05-28 at 10.10.45 AM

Image by Tsirl Waletzky

The rhyme “trovern” [instead of troyern] and “movern” [instead of moyern] indicates the song has its origin in the Ukraine. but dialectically speaking, the song is inconsistent.

TRANSLITERATION

Oy sheyn bin ikh a mol gevezn.
[Oy] vi der morgn shtern hob ikh geshaynt.
oy, zint ikh hob zikh mit dir bakont,
oy, fun tog tsu tog ver ikh mer krank. 

Ikh hob gemeynt az af dayne reyd
[Oy] ken men shteln movern [moyern]
Tsum sof hostu mir mayn kop fardreyt,
az ikh hob tsu veynen un tsu trovern. 

Shpatsirn zaynen mir gegangen
ale shabes oyfn bulevar.
Oy, dayne reyd hob ikh gegloybt.
Oy, bin ikh geven a groyser nar.

Du vest zikh nokh a mol on mir dermonen,
vayl keyner hot dir nit azoy lib.
Oy, du vest forn un vest mikh zukhn,
nor ikh vel zayn shoyn fun lang in grib.

TRANSLATION

O, I was once beautiful.
O, like the morning star did I shine.
O, since I got to know you,
O, with each passing day I feel more ill. 

I thought that upon your words
I could build stone walls.
In the end you turned my head around
so that I cry and mourn. 

We used to take a walk
every Sabbath along the boulevard.
O, I believed in your words.
O, what a fool I was. 

Someday you will remember me
for no one loved you as much as I.
You will travel all over and will search me
but I will have long been in the grave.
Screen Shot 2019-05-28 at 10.08.04 AM

“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

“In Kiev in gas” Performed by Frima Braginski

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 30, 2018 by yiddishsong

In Kiev in gas  / In Kiev on the Street: A Pogrom Ballad
Sung by Frima Braginski
Recorded by Michael Lukin in Israel, 2013.

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

The first Kiev (Kyiv) pogrom happened on April 26th, 1881, and to mark this event we feature the song In Kiev, in gas – In Kiev on the Street sung by Frima Braginski.  She was born in Teplyk (Yiddish – Teplik), Ukraine (Vinnytsia Oblast) in 1924. Braginski was recorded by the ethnomusicologist Michael Lukin in 2013 in Kiryat Gat, Israel.

The first Kiev pogrom took place in May 1881. A second larger pogrom occurred there on Oct. 18th 1905. The first printing of the song appeared in an early issue of Mitteillungen von Judischen Volkskunde in 1895. There it is printed with music and called Die Bettlerin. More versions were printed in the collection Evreiskiia narodnyia piesni v Rossii (Yiddish Folksongs of Russia) of 1901, edited by S.M. Ginzburg and P.M. Marek (#58 and #59). Therefore the song clearly refers to the first pogrom of 1881. At the end of the post, we are attaching the two versions that appear in the Ginzburg and Marek collection and in the Mitteillungen.

pogromPic

Another recorded version of this song – Dortn in gas is dokh finster un nas (There in the Street It’s Dark and Damp) by an anonymous singer can be heard on the CD The Historic Collection of Jewish Music 1912 – 1947 volume 3, produced by the Vernadsky Library in St. Petersburg.

In the Sofia Magid collection of Yiddish songs, Unser rebbe, unser Stalin, edited by Elvira Gorzinger and Susi Hudak-Kazic, Harrassowitz Farlag, Wiesbaden 2008, there are four additional variants – pages 330-332 with music and recordings that can be heard on the accompanying CD/DVD. Three more variations collected by Magid are on pages 568 – 580, texts only. In Shloyme Bastomski’s collection Baym kval: yidishe folkslider, 1923, Vilne, another version is found on page 86.

This pogrom song became a ganovim-lid entitled Dos ganeyvishe lebn (The Thief’s Life) and can be found in Shmuel Lehman’s collection Ganovim-lider (Warsaw, 1928), pages 25 – 27 with music. The original pogrom-song collected by Lehman can be found on 213-214 in the same volume. All of those pages are attached at the end.

Thanks to Michael Lukin who submitted the recording of Braginski and to Robert Rothstein and Michael Alpert for their linguistic assistance.

TRANSLITERATION

In Kiev, in gas s’iz fintser un nas.
Dort zitst a meydl a sheyne.
Zi zitst un bet, bay yedn vos farbay geyt.
“Shenkt a neduve a kleyne.”

“Oy di sheyn meydl, oy di fayn meydl.
Vos hostu aza troyerike mine?
Dayn sheyne figur un dayn eydele natur –
dir past gor zayn a grafine.”

“Kiever katsapes mit zeyere lapes,
zey hobn dos alts gemakht khorev.
Dos hoyz tsebrokhn, dem futer geshtokhn,
Di muter iz far shrek geshtorbn.

Un far groys tsorn, iz der bruder in kas gevorn
un hot a merder dershosn.
Kayn yid tor nisht lebn, kayn rakhe [German – rache] tsu nemen.
Me hot im in keytn fargosn.

Vi groys iz mayn shand, tsu shtrekn di hant
un betn bay laytn gelt.
Got derbarem, shtrek oys dayne orem
un nem mikh shoyn tsu fun der velt.”

TRANSLATION

In Kiev on the street, it’s dark and damp.
there sits a pretty girl.
She sits and begs from all who pass –
“Please give some alms”.

“O, you pretty girl,  O, you fine girl.
Why do have such a sad expression?
Your nice figure, your noble nature –
You could pass for a countess.”

“Those Kiev katsapes [see note below] and their paws
have wiped out everything.
My house was destroyed. My father stabbed.
From fright my mother died.

In great anger my brother became enraged
And shot one of the murderers.
No Jew is allowed to live who takes revenge,
They led him away in chains. [Literally: They poured chains on him]

How great is my shame to stretch out my hand
And beg money from people.
O God have mercy stretch out your arm
And take me away from this world.”

*Found in almost all the variants is the rhyme “Kiever katsapes” (katsapes = a Ukrainian derogatory term for a Russian) and “lapes” (paws).

From Evreiskiia narodnyia piesni v Rossii [Yiddish Folksongs of Russia] of 1901, edited by S.M. Ginzburg and P.M. Marek (#58 & #59):
GM1
GM2

Shmuel Lehman’s collection Ganovim-lider (Warsaw, 1928), pages 25 – 27, 213-214:

Lehman1

Lehman2

Lehman3

Lehman4

Lehman5

“Bald vet zayn a regn” Performed by Yudeska (Yehudis) Eisenman

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 31, 2017 by yiddishsong

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

During a visit to our home in the Bronx in the 1993 by the Yiddish writer Tsvi/Zvi Eisenman and his wife Yudeska/Yehudis Eisenman (1916 – 1998), Ms. Eisenman sang three songs which are not well known.

Eisenman1993Yudeska and Tsvi Eisenman with Beyle Schaechter-Gottesman (center)

Yudeska Eisenman was born in Pinsk 1916  and made aliyah to Israel in 1939. She died in 1998. For many years she and Zvi lived on the kibbutz Alonim (אלונים).

This week we present the first song from that recording session –  “Bald vet zayn a regn” (“Soon a Rain Will Come”). The recording was done by my mother, Beyle Schaechter-Gottesman. The words are by A. Lutsky (pen name for Arn Tsuker 1894 – 1957) and can be found in his volume Nemt es; s’iz gut far aykh, New York 1927.

This version of the song is the same as the one in the song collection Azoy hobn mir gezungen  (אזוי האָבן מיר געזונגען), published in Tel-Aviv, 1974, compiled by Khonen Pozniak. Only a line or two differ slightly.

Pozniak attended a Yiddish secular school in Warsaw, a “Borochov shul”, and his collection represents the songs he remembers from that school and the secular Tsysho Yiddish schools of Poland between the world wars (see Tsysho in the YIVO Encyclopedia).  Scans of the melody and text in the Pozniak collection are attached.

There are two recordings of this song on LP with different melodies. One is sung by Bella Sauer with a melody composed by Lazar Weiner. Another is by Morechai Yardeini, composed in 1960.

Through Eisenman’s performance of Bald vet zayn a regn one can imagine how the school children enjoyed singing the playful climax of the song “Un er laaaaakht….”

Thanks to Lorin Sklamberg and the YIVO Sound Archives and Bella Bryks-Klein for their help with this posting.

Spoken by Eisenman:
Bald vet zayn a regn, Lutskis

Bald vet zayn a regn
azoy dertseylt di gas;
shteyen ale hayzer,
farkhoyshekhte un blas. (2X)

Kumt a zun fun himl,
shtelt zikh op in gas. (2X)

Un er lakht, un er lakht, un lakht.
S’vet nit zayn keyn regn.
Ikh hob nor gemakht a shpas!

Soon a Rain Will Come

Spoken by Eisenman:
“‘Bald vet zayn a regn by Lutsky”

Soon a rain will come.
So says the street.
All the houses seem
dark and pale. (2X)

A sun comes down from the sky
and stops in the street. (2X)

And he laughs, and he laughs,
and he laughs!
“There won’t be any rain
I was only joking!”

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