Researching Yiddish penny songs (tenement song broadsides of theater and variety show songs, 1895-1925)
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Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Di yesoymim (The Orphans) Yiddish Vaudeville Song

UPDATE: I just found a vintage recording of this at the FAU site under the name Zwei Yesoimim, Clara Gold 1917. It sure sounds different from the way Aviva and I did it!

I love the Yiddish songs set to sappy American songs of the time. This one, Di yesoymim, says: sing to the melody "There Never Was a Girl Like You." It's a perplexing combination - the tune is sentimental, lilting, sort of Irish-American, and the words are your typical overblown tragic Yiddish melodrama.

By the way there's another song by the name "There Never Was a Girl Like You" which is also lilting and Irish-American, and which I like better, but this one, written by Egbert Van Alstyne, is the one that fits the Yiddish words. (The English words were by Harry Williams) Here is the original, sung by Harry Macdonough in 1909:

Pianist Aviva Enoch and I recorded "Di yesoymim" to that tune this week and here's our rendition:

Here's the transliteration and, afterwards, the translation. At the bottom of the post find the original songsheet.

An orem yidish por farheyrat shoyn akht yor
Mit tsvey kinder kumen do in land.
Do geyt zey zeyer shlekht, di teg shvarts vi di nekht
Fardinen iz der man do nit imshtand
Derfar vert er krank der froy iz shoyn fun lang
Ongegripn un zi shtarbt avek
Der man do er lebt 'calm' geblibn vi af dem yam
Mit di kinder un er veynt a shrek.

Oy vey iz mir! Ver? Ver vet nemen tsvey yesoymim
Vos zaynen geblibn on a heym? Oy vey iz mir
Ver? Ver vet af zey rakhmones hobn un nemen tsvey yesoymelekh?

Es iz avek atsind fun a dray monat
Di tate fun di kinder hot baglikt
mit a krank vos heyst "Consumption" vi ir veyst
Nokh "Kolerade" hot men im geshikt.
Fun dort kumt on a brif hot er dan a bagrif
Mit blut iz geshribn yeder vort:
Kinder ir vet meyn dem tatn shoyn nit zen
Un far mayn toyt bet ikh di fraynde dort:

Oy gute fraynd: Ver? Ver vet nemen tsvey yesoymim
On a tatn, on a mamenyu? Oy vey iz mir
Ver? Ver vet af zey rakhmones hobn un nemen tsvey yesoymelekh?

Es iz a vinter nakht azoy os halb nokh akht
Shteyt lebn a drogstore mentshn fil.
An ambulans loyft shver, klingt un haylt zikh zeyer,
In hospital tsu zayn shnel iz zayn tsil.
Ikh freg, "Vos iz geshen? Vos iz den do geven?
Ver hot dem ambulans aher bashtelt?"
Entfern mir zey az kleyne kinder tsvey
Zaynen geshtorbn fun hunger un kelt.

Oy gute layt: Zet! Zet vos es iz gevorn
Fun di oreme tsvey kinderlekh af der velt!
Zet! Zet! Fun hunger iz geshtorbn di tsvey kleyne kinderlekh!

A poor Yiddish couple, married 8 years, comes to this land with two children.
Things go badly for them day and night, the man can't earn.
Therefore he gets sick. His wife gets sick and dies.
The man lives with his children becalmed as if on the ocean
And he cries terribly:

Woe is me! Who will take two orphans who have been left without a home?
Woe is me! Who will have mercy on them and take two little orphans?

Three months go by, the children's father is gifted with
what they call "consumption," as you know,
He's sent to Colorado.
A letter comes from that place, he has a thought,
Every word is written with blood:
Children, you'll think you won't see your father again
And before my death, I ask my friends there:

Oh, good friends: Who will take two orphans
Without a father, without a mother? Woe is me!
Who will have mercy on them and take two little orphans?

It's a winter night, half past eight, lots of people are standing next to a drugstore.
An ambulance is rushing, making lots of noise,
It wants to get to the hospital quickly.
I ask, "What happened here? Who called the ambulance?"
They answer me that two little children are dead from hunger and cold.

Oh, good people, look! Look what became of the two poor orphans in the world!
Look! The two little orphans died from hunger!

Click the pictures below to see them larger:

For sheet music and/or performances contact me:

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