Researching Yiddish penny songs (tenement song broadsides of theater and variety show songs, 1895-1925)
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Thursday, September 3, 2015

Tsvey gute brider: they turn out to be gangsters in Chicago

Itzik Reingold, Yiddish poet and songwriterI've previously featured two other songs by Isaac Reingold: Shtey oyf mayn man and Vos vet zayn der sof?.

Reingold drank hard and died young. He's remembered for his folk poetry and his parodies, often set to soppy American songs of the gaslight era.

Like this one, from 1895, which says: "With the melody from the English song Two Little Girls in Blue."


 
So naturally I went out and looked for "Two Little Girls in Blue," of course:


Many of the songs in the American Yiddish Penny Songs collection are written to American tunes, and most of them are sarcastic reflections on the originals. In the original song here, an uncle tells his nephew: "Your father and I were brothers, we fell in love at school with the two little girls in blue. One was your mother, I married the other..." All very sentimental and proper.

In Reingold's parody, the two little brothers (they may be the same two throughout the song, or perhaps they are four separate sets of brothers) first burgle a house and get bundled into the paddy wagon; then they inveigle a sap into playing cards with them until he loses his last couple of dollars; then they commit arson; then they seemingly rescue a guy who's on the lamb after seducing a girl back home, but then they turn him in anyway (I think). All set to this sugary sweet tune (which I have to admit I loved singing in an old-fashioned manner). Click the picture below to hear my rendition, with English subtitles and with Aviva Enoch on piano:




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

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