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

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List of the still-lost songs: do you know any of them?
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Thursday, February 12, 2015

Ikh benk nokh der East Side fun a mol (I long for the East Side of yesterday) - Debut for Yiddish Penny Songs

I've been keeping a blog called Polish Jewish Cabaret for quite some time as I've been researching Yiddish music from Warsaw between the wars.

Now, though, I'm moving on to a new project, an examination of Yiddish songsheets (broadsides) peddled on the streets of the Lower East Side around the turn of the 20th century, so I thought a new blog was called for. The world of the lower east side: that's the world THIS song is about.

So here's our recording, straight from my living room, later on our cd by the same name: Ikh benk nokh der East Side fun a mol

Written by Alexander Olshanetsky and Jacob Jacobs, it was debuted by Aaron Lebedeff and Leo Fuchs at the Public Theater. As usual there are many spellings, which makes it hard to search for the song. One is Ikh Benk Nokh Der East Side Fin Amul and the sheet music pianist Aviva Enoch and I worked from has Ikh ben noch der East Side fin a muhl on the sheet music itself and Ikh benk noch der East Side fun amuhl in the table of contents. If you don't know why I'm sharing this information, you haven't been searching very successfully for Yiddish songs online!

Here's a translation from the Yiddish:

Yidn flegn kumen fun der gantser velt in der East Side
Bald fun Kesl Gartn hot zikh yeder opgeshtelt
In der East Side
Dort flegt men ale grine ofnemen zeyer fayn
Fun der shif zey firn glaykh in bod arayn
Nokh dem vi s'hobn gevashn zikh dem haldz
Bald hot men zey traktirt mit biter saltz.

Ikh benk nokh der East Side fun amol
Vu alts hot geblit gor on a tsol
A yeder hot geredt nor Yidish dort
Zikh gekvikt mit yedn vort
S'iz geven punkt vi in eretz Yisroel
Ir megt zikh voynen in raykhkayt nokh vi
Git es aykh baym harts a tsi
s'benk zikh nokh der East Side fun a mol

The East Side of the Past

Jews used to come from the whole world to the East Side.
They soon departed Castle Garden and settled in the East side.
There all new immigrants used to be received very kindly
From the ship they took themselves right into the thick of things
After theyd washed up, soon soon they were treated with bitter salt.

I long for the East Side of yesteryear
Where everything bloomed endlessly
Only Yiddish was spoken, you were delighted with every word.
It was just like in the land of Israel,
One could live in riches. It gives a tug at your heart
I long for the old East Side.

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