Researching Yiddish penny songs (tenement song broadsides of theater and variety show songs, 1895-1925)
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Monday, March 23, 2015

Di New Yorker trern - an iconic Yiddish song of urban misery (not at all out of date)

sheet music for Die New Yorker TrehrenClick on the picture for a larger view of the lovely Mrs. S. Kanner singing this hit from yesteryear (written by Hyman Altman). I haven't seen a recording by her, but you can hear Frances Simonoff singing this song back in the day (1910) on the Mayrent Institute Website. They say they are hoping to get Sherry Mayrent's whole collection on line for us to hear. That would be amazing.

There's also supposed to be a William Schartz recording of this famous song, one of the more familiar numbers featured in the "Penny Song Collection" at Hebrew Union College.

Aviva recorded the piano part last week and I made this video live this afternoon, I'm still trying to figure out what's the least time-consuming time to make these videos. Since I've never sung any of these songs before the day I record them, I don't know the words and so I have to look at the music, and that's not so good. Also, if I record live as I did here, then the microphone is in front of my face.

We still hear horrible news stories every day like the ones told in this song. This tune was used also for a song called Dos greste yam umglik mit der shif Titanik (The great ocean misfortune with the ship Titanic) which I'll post later.

My English translation of the Yiddish lyrics:

New York is cooking like a saucepan, there's endless noise and disturbance
You see a lot of people going around like vagrants, it makes you want to cry
Misfortunes taking place on every street and hell is coming to the land of the free
A family is thrown out in the street because they can't pay their rent on time
It rains, it pours, tears flow,
And they sit, poor things, desolate and depressed

Those are the New York tears that never stop
A groan, a cry, a sigh, a "woe is me,"
That's what you can always hear
This is nothing new - that as you go by
You see the New York tears.

A man leaves leaves his house, healthy, he's running to find work, to find his luck,
A car is coming, fast, it quickly cuts him down. He is brought back home - dead.
When his wife sees this she stands dumbfounded, Her face is pale, her eyes are red,
They send for a doctor, but before he comes..., the wife is found, she's already lying dead.
And their only child, poor thing, is crying now:
"Oh, daddy, mommy, take me with you soon!"

Who hasn't heard about the murders committed recently on Montgomery Street?
They found three people there, cut up: a man, his wife, and his mother-in-law in a river of blood
Elsewhere, you hear about a boy who shot his friend, two children, they were playing with a pistol,
A fourteen year old boy, what's he yet enjoyed in life? The second boy, even younger, aimed at him...
When he felt the crack he shouted out: "Mama!"
And running from the third floor, he lay dead in the hall...

For sheet music and/or performances contact me:

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