Researching Yiddish penny songs (tenement song broadsides of theater and variety show songs, 1895-1925)
Index of songs on this site
Link to comprehensive index and research notes
Youtube: all the Penny Songs I've recorded so far (with subtitles)

About this project ♦ ♦ About Jane Peppler
List of the still-lost songs: do you know any of them?
Search the blog:

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Zumer bay nakht oyf di dekher (or rufn)

UPDATED to include the Louis Gilrod version which I found at Harvard.

This song is proving to be a moving target. I started with Sani Shapiro's broadside (he was the publisher of most of the penny song sheets, and in this case he wrote the words too). But nobody recorded the words he wrote. He called his version Zumer banakht oyf di rufen, using a Yinglish word for roof instead of the word dakh / dekher.

The Columbia recording I have from 1905 of the wonderful Frank Seiden singing the song under the title Somer bei nacht auf di decher says on the label that the composer is David Meyerowitz. I can't find the Meyerowitz verses on paper anywhere.

The chorus Seiden sings is the same as the chorus in the version which was supposedly written by Louis Gilrod, and which is still very easy to find. Eleanor Reissa recorded the song with Gilrod's lyrics and you can also find these words in the Mlotek's Lid fun mayn dor.

The Mloteks also printed a version of this song as it was sung in a concentration camp in Kloge, Estonia during the Second World War.

All these songs are set to the same popular American song of the time: "On a Good Old Trolley Ride."

Since I couldn't find the Meyerowitz text, I decided to do something pretty strange: I put the Sani Shapiro songsheet words and my translation of the same on the video. This is not what Frank Seiden was singing! But it gives you two rare song lyrics that share a melody. If I ever run across the Meyerowitz text I'll re-do the video.


Below, both Sani Shapiro's and Louis Gilrod's versions:

>>>>>READ MORE >>>>>

Labels: , , ,

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Ip-Ay-Eri-Ay-Ey (Yiddish version of English Music hall song Yip-I-Addy-I-Ay)

The original English song Yip-i-addy-i-ay has a great cover:


The parody, by some anonymous prankster, is (by Yiddish standards) rather bawdy. I imagine Yiddish speakers hearing people sing this hit and wondering what on earth it meant. And their minds naturally wandered to the dark side... Publisher Sani Shapiro informs us it is sung with great success in all the variety shows. I called it Yip-ay-eri-ay-ey at youtube.

Aviva Enoch played piano. Click to hear our version, recorded today:


Translation and songsheet after the jump.

>>>>>READ MORE >>>>>

Labels: , , , , , , ,

Monday, June 6, 2016

Ikh bin a yingele fun Poyln, as sung by Ruth Kurland and Julia Stoll

Jerry Zimmerman wrote:
My grandfather used to sing to me when I was young. I am 70 now, so this was a long time ago. I have been looking for it on the internet, and so far been unsuccessful. Also I don't know the title or accurately remember the words. Here's the best I can do:

Ich bin a yinge laufen poilen mit mine kappela gekommen...........
Vil you buy, vil you buy, vil you buy something...
And somewhere there is a "punch in the nuis"


I think it's a song about a misunderstanding because of language, and was performed in yiddish theater in NYC, perhaps yiddish vaudeville.

I put out a request on the Jewish music list and Joe Kurland of the Wholesale Klezmer Band responded:
My grandmother b. 1878 used to sing this song, and I made a recording of my mother b. 1912 and her sister b. 1909 singing it. My mother was not a Yiddish speaker, but she did remember the Yiddish songs her mother used to sing. Joe later added: "Sung by Ruth Kurland and Julia Stoll in 1982. Learned from their mother, Sarah Carmel."

Ikh bin a yingele fun Poyln,
Nokh Amerike gekimen,
Dos kepele, dos voyle
Hot a shrek ibergenimen,
Es iz keyn shvere zakhe,
Me ken dos nisht fargesn,
Az datldu (that'l do) iz a shprakhe,
Un pay iz an esn.

Handlen heyst pedlen bay zey,
Mit a besket fun evri ting.
Ikh shray di ales away,
Vil you buy, vil you buy,
Vil you buy some ting.

Ikh bin in strit aroysgelofn,
Mit mayn pek ol rayt,
Hot mir a loyfer ongekimen,
Un er ask me do I want to fight,
I ask him what shprekh is this,
Tell me if you please,
Hot er mir derlangt a potsh in der noz,
Hob ikh farshtanen vos er maynt.

Es hot mir geton vey,
Mit mayn besket fun evri ting,
Ikh shray di ales away,
Vil you buy, vil you buy,
Vil you buy some ting.

I am a boy from Poland Come to America,
This pleasant little head experienced a horror.
It's not a hard thing, one can't forget it,
That datldu (That'l do) is an expression,
And pie is a food.

Handlen is called peddling among them,
With a basket of everything,
I cry away all,
Will you buy, will you buy, will you buy some thing.

I ran out into the street with my pack all right,
A bully came up to me and asked do I want to fight.
I ask him what does that mean, tell me if you please,
He gave me a hit in the nose and I understood what he meant.

It hurt me.
With my pack of everything,
I cry away all,
Will you buy, will you buy, will you buy some thing.

And here's Joe's recording: Ikh bin a yingele fun Poyln. Thanks, Joe!

For sheet music and/or performances contact me: jane@mappamundi.com

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Dos ferdl (The little horse) - in which Sigmund Mogulesco and Abraham Goldfaden try Gilbert & Sullivan

Here's an early political cartoon of King George V attempting unsuccessfully to ride on the American colonists. The metaphor was not new when Goldfaden and Mogulesco used it in this 1908 song from the show Ben Ami (it's spelled in the sheet music Dus ferdil). In the show it was sung by Bessie Tomashefsky.

I wish I could present these songs the way I hear them in my head. I don't feel right asking my pianist friends to help any more, what's in it for them? No money, no glory. So I struggle away with my own nonexistent piano skills.

Then, I think: "I should put a bunch of Gilbert and Sullivan style fiddle tracks on this," but then, I run out of time and don't do it. I guess I'm just presenting blueprints so if other musicians want to perform the songs properly they have a place to start from.

Here's my recording from today. This is the last of four songs I prepared at the same time. Now I should go do some other things for a while.


Transliteration and translation after the jump. This was the first time I've seen the word smirno (pay attention) - it's from Russian.

>>>>>READ MORE >>>>>

Labels: , , , , , , , , , ,

Milkhome trern (Tears of War) - Yiddish plea for an end to war. When it was just beginning.

This Yiddish political cartoon appeared in the Warheit on August 15 1914, at the outbreak of World War I.  Click for a larger view.
The True Battlefield.
The wife and children at home when the husband is gone away to war.



Morris Rund wrote this lyric to the melody of a song I posted a couple weeks ago for Mother's Day, A muters herts.

Here's today's recording:


Transliteration and translation after the jump:

>>>>>READ MORE >>>>>

Labels: , , , , , ,

Friday, May 20, 2016

Kinder mageyfe: Yiddish song about the polio epidemic

I wasn't expecting to find a song about polio in the American Yiddish Penny Songs collection but there it was, words by Sam Dinerzon, tune from a song I posted recently: Di milkhome by Jacob Zilbert and Gus Goldstein, published in 1907.

Here's the video I made today:



At History of vaccines I read:
It is likely that polio has plagued humans for thousands of years. An Egyptian carving from around 1400 BCE depicts a young man with a leg deformity similar to one caused by polio. Polio circulated in human populations at low levels and appeared to be a relatively uncommon disease for most of the 1800s.

Polio reached epidemic proportions in the early 1900s in countries with relatively high standards of living, at a time when other diseases such as diphtheria, typhoid, and tuberculosis were declining. Indeed, many scientists think that advances in hygiene paradoxically led to an increased incidence of polio. The theory is that in the past, infants were exposed to polio, mainly through contaminated water supplies, at a very young age. Infants’ immune systems, aided by maternal antibodies still circulating in their blood, could quickly defeat poliovirus and then develop lasting immunity to it. However, better sanitary conditions meant that exposure to polio was delayed until later in life, on average, when a child had lost maternal protection and was also more vulnerable to the most severe form of the disease.

Wikipedia says:
By 1907 approximately 2,500 cases of poliomyelitis were reported in New York City... [In 1916] there were over 2,000 deaths in New York City alone.

Text and translation after the jump.

>>>>>READ MORE >>>>>

Labels: , , ,

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Mayn vaybl Sorele: Morris Rund continues to be unlikeable.

Click for a larger view of the cranky Morris Rund who either had an awful relationship with his wife or simply perceived that songs about awful wives sold well on the street (this songsheet says "third edition"). (Click for a larger view.)

I like the tune he set his screed to; I put it up on Youtube last week: Di mume glikele (Lady Luck).

This song could be a central exhibit for some PhD student writing about how sexist Yiddish humor lingers into annoying sexist humor still popular today.

Here's my rendition from this morning:


Text and translation after the jump.

>>>>>READ MORE >>>>>

Labels: , , , , , , ,