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Saturday, April 11, 2015

Shtey oyf, mayn man! A parody of Goldfaden's Shtey oyf mayn folk (Yiddish theater song)

The songsheet (see below) sets the parody to "Goldfaden's famous song Shtey uf mayn folk." Here is the sheet music, which is at the Library of Congress website under the spelling Steh Auf Mein Folk.

In this published sheet music copyright 1902, I see Goldfaden takes credit for the words AND the music, though it ALSO says "by H. A. Russotta."

However, Goldfaden was a notorious thief. In Voices of a People, Ruth Rubin wrote that the title and original poetry, "in the spirit of Haskalah endeavors," were from an 1868 poem by Michl Gordon and Goldfaden used them without permission, "which sorely displeased the original author."

There is a transliteration and a rhyming English translation of the original original here: Mikhl Gordon's Shtey Oyf, Mayn Folk at the Jewish Daily Forward. Gordon rallies the 'unenlightened,' old-fashioned superstitious Jews: "Enough already with your sleeping, wake up and open your eyes... dress as everyone does, why are you wearing clothes like your great-grandfather?" There is actually a recording of this parody at the Florida Atlantic University site: G.Z. Weismann singing Steh auf mein Mann in Warsaw, Poland in 1908 (the words are different)

Here's me lip-synching to the recording I did with pianist Aviva Enoch, who works with Mappamundi in the Cabaret Warsaw project. My green screen worked better this time...

The parody has a wife scolding her husband for lying around while the other guys are hard at work at their sewing machines. (Click for a larger view.) I didn't think until I did this translation that takhtoynim (underpants or trousers) came from tukhes.

I only sang three of the verses, here are all five. Pishe-peyshe is a child's card game. The last verse gets pretty technical about poker and I needed some help figuring it out. Michael Wex wrote:
In context, it's clear that the khevre refers to his cronies. The meydlekh are queens. He's upset about the full house that Moyshe beat yesterday; he thinks that if he'd had one more ace [i.e., he had three aces in his full house], he'd have given him a pass [I'm not sure what this means; I always thought that to pass was the same as to fold] he's definitely got the four queens [with which Moyshe seems to have beaten his full house] on his mind.

Get up, my husband, pull on your trousers
And go look for a job already

Kalmen, Itzik and Groynim have long been at work
They practically sleep in the shop
It would seem you can sew as well as anyone
So why am I suffering hunger and deprivation?
I'm dying for an apple, a plum, a banana,
Thank God I have some stale bread
Here's some even better news for you -
Naturally, I'm lamenting greatly -
I've gotten notice: we're being evicted.
Get up, husband, it's daytime!

Listen! The machines have been clattering a long time already
It's busy, people are working fast,
But you, knucklehead, can't find a job
What, do you think we're living off my father?
I'd much rather let myself be buried in the ground
Than have to 'borrow' at the grocery store
The landlord's coming every day, he wants his rent!
The butcher is tormenting me.
Myself, I'm naked, what misery!
And now Pesach is coming along soon
God forbid! I don't have a thing left over from Purim
Get up, my husband, it's day!

Our neighbors are not rich either, I know,
So out of curiosity, ask yourself:
Certainly they have already got wine for passover
And they're laying in matzes these days
Although God is a father, I certainly don't know
Where's our Passover going to come from?
I don't have any eggs or shmaltz,
I don't have a trace of matso and wine
But of course you don't worry much about my crying and lecturing
With you, it's an eternal torment
It's already way past seven o'clock
Get up, husband, it's day

Oh well, I've pretty much given up, Moyshe,
I know you don't give a fig about me
You'd sell me for a game of gin rummy
Do you have to make me so miserable?
Are you an invalid? The children, without shoes,
They're going around barefoot.
The bed linens, the worst! We need new pillowcases.
The laundry is in shreds
Every year you provide me with: another bris.
From year to year I'm nursing and pregnant
It seems to me we heard the whistle ages ago
Get up, husband, it's day!

But my husband dreams and drowses
His wife and his home don't concern him
It seems he has a poker flush
And there's a hot game on
Naturally, he's annoyed by last night's full house
(more poker talk)
Therefore I yell and command:
Enough already with the dreaming, go earn some money
Get up, husband, it's day!

Itzik Gottesman wrote about this:
The parody "Shtey of mayn man" of the Goldfaden song "Shtey af mayn folk" is by Isaac Reingold, the Chicago Yiddish folk poet and author of many songs including "Shmilik Gavrilik", and "A yur nukh mayn khasene" I like your recording and the old one is great too, and shows that Reingold's songs were known in Eastern Europe.

For sheet music and/or performances contact me:

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Blogger Unknown said...

tachtonim is hebrew for undies too! tachat is hebrew for "under," so maybe that was the origin of "tukhes?"

April 11, 2015 at 8:05 PM  

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