Archive for train

“Mirtseshem af shabes” Performed by Khave Rosenblatt

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 19, 2018 by yiddishsong

Mirtseshem af shabes / God Willing, This Sabbath
Performance by Khave Rosenblatt
Recorded by Beyle Schaechter-Gottesman
Jerusalem, 1970s
Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

The most popular version of this 19th century mock-Hasidic song begins with the line “Ver hot dos gezen…” or “Tsi hot men azoyns gezen…” (“Who has seen this” or “Who has every seen anything like this”). In the Mlotek’s collection Mir trogn a gezang, pages 126-127.  the song is called “Dos lid fun ayznban” (“The Song About the Train”).  Theodore Bikel recorded that version on his LP “Theodore Bikel Sings Jewish Folksongs” 1959.

Khave Rosenblatt’s version however is closer in some respects to the variants found in the collections Yidishe folks-lider, ed. Itzik Fefer and Moyshe Beregovski, Kiev 1938. pp. 386-387  (see below) and in A.Z. Idelsohn’s The Folk Song of The East European Jews, volume 9 of his Thesaurus of Hebrew Oriental Melodies, song # 558, beginning with the line “Nokh shabes imirtseshem….”.   Idelsohn also includes the “Ver hot dos gezen..” version, #556, from the German journal Ost und West. A scan of that page is also attached (see below)

train whistle

Only Rosenblatt’s theatrical version plays with the verbs “fayfn” (“fafn” in her dialect), which means “whistle” and  “onfayfen”  (“unfafn” in her dialect) meaning “to thumb one’s nose at.” One could easily imagine the wandering entertainers, the Broder Singers, performing this song in the wine cellars of the 19th century in Galicia.

TRANSLITERATION
Mirtseshem af shobes
vel ikh bam rebn zan.
Ikh vel tsiklugn di hiltayes, di drobes
vus zey nemen azoy fil gelt un zey leygn in dr’erd aran.

Rebe, hot er a fafer
mit a meshenem knop.
Er faft indz un hekher in hekher
in er vet gurnisht vern farshtopt.

Er faft un faft un faft un faft un faft
Er vil gurnisht oyfhern.
mit dem rebns koyekh
vet di ban tseshlugn vern.

TRANSLATION
God willing this Sabbath
I will spend with the Rebbe.
I will denounce the hedonists, the wastrels,
who take so much money and spend it wildy. [lit: bury it in the ground]

Rebbe, what a whistle it has!
with a brass knob.
He thumbs his nose at us louder and louder,
and nothing shuts him up.

He whistles and whistles and whistles and whistles and whistles
and doesn’t want to stop.
With the Rebbe’s power
the train will be trounced.

dos lid gottesman

Khane and Joe Mlotek, Mir trogn a gezang, pages 126-127:

dos lid mlotek

Yidishe folks-lider, ed. Itzik Fefer and Moyshe Beregovski, Kiev 1938. pp. 386-387:
miritzhashem (1)

dos lid fefer 2b

A.Z. Idelsohn’s The Folk Song of The East European Jews, volume 9 of Thesaurus of Hebrew Oriental Melodies (#558 & #556)

dos lid idelsohn 558dos lid idelsohn 556

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“Leyg ikh mir in bet arayn” Performed by Janie Respitz

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 14, 2017 by yiddishsong

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

There has been much written about the once popular Yiddish song לייג איך מיר אין בעט אַרײַן (Leyg ikh mir in bet arayn / I Lay Me Down in My Bed) and its transformations, but I cannot find one LP/CD recording of the “original” Yiddish song and so I’m glad to have Montreal Yiddish singer Janie Respitz’s version (video recorded in October of 2017).

The Yiddish text, transliteration, translation and music to this song appears in Chana and Joseph Mlotek’s collection Pearls of Yiddish Song (see below) and there it is identified as a poem by Joseph Rolnick / Rolnik (1879 – 1955) and music written by the Yiddish poet Bertha Kling (1886 – 1979).

A translation of Rolnik’s autobiography זכרונות (Zikhrones / Memories) from Yiddish by Gerald Marcus is available in English entitled With Rake in Hand: Memoirs of a Yiddish Poet, 2016. There he writes that that this poem, adapted from a folksong, became very popular after Kling composed music for it; but he was ashamed of how the poem, which he considered unimportant, had become a hit. He walked out of a room if they greeted his entrance by singing it.

About the transformations of this Yiddish song… The Hebrew-language website Zemereshet  זמרשת presents a popular Hebrew version הרכבת (Harekevet / The Train), as well as the children’s song בין הרים ובין סלעים  (Beyn horim uveyn slaim / Between Mountains and Rocks). Historian David Assaf’s blog עונג שבת Oyneg Shabes presents additional versions and a more detailed history of the story of the song (in Hebrew). 

The Rolnik poem has inspired two new musical compositions. The first is by the Pulitzer prize and Grammy winning modernist minimalist composer David Lang (“Bang on a Can”) entitled I Lie.

The second has been composed by UK-based Yiddish singer Polina Shepherd, and is here sung by Yana Ovrutskay:

Shepherd currently performs this song with the group “Sklamberg and the Shepherds” (also featuring Lorin Sklamberg of The Klezmatics and clarinetist Merlin Shepherd). Both Shepherd’s and Lang’s compositions  include the fourth verse of the original poem which is included in the Mlotek booklet but not sung in the folklorized versions.

From Chana and Joseph Mlotek’s Pearls of Yiddish Song:

Rolnick1Rolnick2

 

“An ayznban a naye” Performed by David Shear

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 22, 2010 by yiddishsong

Notes by Itzik Gottesman

“An ayznban” was sung by David Shear of New York City and recorded by me in his apartment in 1989. Shear was born in Luboml (Libivne in Yiddish), Poland. He studied in Ostrovitz, near Keltz in a Navaradok Yeshiva in the 1930s. This was a musar yeshiva and if you are not familiar with that term, I recommend you read Chaim Grade’s novel The Yeshiva as well as other works by him. This kind of yeshiva emphasized ethics in an extreme way. That the yeshiva students there would sing “An ayznban” which is an adaptation of Elyokum Zunzer’s (1836-1913) song “Lid fun ayznban” (not to be confused with his song/poem “Der ayznban”) is not that surprising, since  Zunser’s poetry often mixed parable and Jewish ethics (for more on Zunser, see the previous song in this blog “A bayshpil” which is also by him).

Elyokum Zunser

You can find the original yiddish text in The Works of Elyokum Zunser, Volume One, edited by Mordkhe Schaechter, YIVO, 1964, pages 255-258. Shear obviously forgot a rhyme in the third verse. In the original the third verse reads:
Yetveder reltse iz a sekunde
Yetveder statsye, a yor.
Yeder kasarke iz glaykh tsu a shtunde.
A poyezd iz in gantsn a dor.

Every rail is a second.
Every station is a year.
Every kasarke (?) is like an hour.
A train is like a whole generation.

The only recording I know of the song is on “Selected Songs of Eliakum Zunser” sung by Nathanial Entin, Folkways 1963.

An ayznban a naye, iz di tsayt gevorn
velkhe firt pasazhirn, say orem, say raykh.
Loyft zen dem vinder, nor alts dos bizikurn.
Vayl dus iz a mushl antkegn aykh.

A railroad train a new one, has become the time,
which carries passengers, both poor and rich.
Run see this wonder, but all this in your mind.
Because this is a parable regarding you.

Mir zitsn do in di vagonen.
Der lokomotiv iz di tsayt.
Er firt mit zikh mentshn milyonen.
Un er loyft vi mit koyln un shtrayt.

We sit her in the traincars,
the locomotive is the time.
He carries millions of people,
And he runs as with coals, and struggles.

Yeder poyazd iz a sekunde
Yede statyse iz a dor
yede psheshatke iz a shtunde
Yeder poyezd iz a yor.

Every train is a second.
Every station is a generation.
Every platform is an hour.
Every train is a year.

Deym bilet vus di haltst in tash
dus iz dayn mazl, dayn rayze-plan.
Vi tsi furn, un vus far a klas.
Dus iz bashtimt fun Got – der direktor fun ban.

The ticket that you hold in your bag/wallet;
this is your fate, your travel-plan.
Your destination, and in which class,
This is determined by God – The Train Director.

Bay di vokzaln klingt men mit a glekl.
Di konduktorn shpringen arup.
Es loyfn pasazhirn yeder mit zayn pekl.
Fil kumen tsu, un fil kumen up.

At the train stations, they ring a bell.
The conductors jump off.
Passengers run, each with his baggage,
Many come aboard, many get off.

Un az men heyst arupgeyn, to ding zikh nisht.
Khotsh di bist nisht zeyer keyn alter man.
Dayn bilet iz oys, un di veynst imzist.
Azoy iz bashtimt fun Got – der direktor fun ban.

And if they tell you to get off, don’t negotiate,
Even though you are not a very old man.
Your ticket has expired, and your crying is for naught.
So has determined God – The Train Director.