Researching Yiddish penny songs (tenement song broadsides of theater and variety show songs, 1895-1925)
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Monday, February 22, 2016

Dem bekers laydn (The Baker's Suffering) - Lament from the bakeries of the Lower East Side

Morris Rund was a member of the Kosher Bakers' Union, Local 100. Earlier I posted about his lost song called Beker Reb Nokhum. This one, luckily, was complete, and I was able to find the tune.

The song sheet specifies the tune of Dos pastukh'l. There are several songs called "The Shepherd" but since Rund specified the song from Abraham Goldfaden's Bar Kokhba, this time there was no doubt.

I think Rund was at his best when he was complaining about working conditions. I recorded another of his songs, one of his very best, a tailors' lament, at my other blog: In dr'erd dos shnayderay.


Here's my recording of Dem bekers laydn from this morning:



Here's the first page of the broadside.
Click for a larger view:


Here's the transliteration and the translation from the Yiddish:

Dem bekers laydn

Fil arbeter kumen aher fun farshidenem sort
Un keyner arbet nit azoy shver vi der beker in Niu York
Baynakht darf er ufshteyen, un tsu der arbet geyn
A gantse vokh a fremder zayn fun zayn vayb un kind
Imer ligt er bagrobn veyst fun keyn lebn tsu zogn
Er meg dikh veynen un klogn, vos hot er aza zind?

Oy iz im shlekht - er iz uf gantse nekht
Er falt bald fun di fis
Shleferik mat - hits in hechster grad
Zeyn lebn iz im imer mies!

Vos veyst er den fun fargenign ven iz er den fray?
Az tog vi nakht muz er lign in keler in bekeray
Fun shabes ken er nit visn, keyn bisl luft genisn
Der shveys tut fun im flisn, er arbet iber dem koyekh
Shabes fri a zeyger tsen in keler tut er shoyn shteyn
Zayn vayb un kind ken er nit zen, es shtikt im shoyn der roykh.

Der roykh tut im in haldz shtikn, di oygn tut im brenen
Der boss er tut im unterdrikn vi vayt er tut kenen
Der boss er tut im plogn un der arbeter muz shvaygn
Er tor keyn vort nit zogn vayl mit tsores iz er zat
Der boss er tut vi er vil, dem arbeter makht er dil
Un er shteyt nebekh shtil - vayl er iz shleferik un mat!

Un az er geyt shoyn ruen aheym zolt ir im demolt zen
Di fis shlept er vi a leym er tut shoyn koym dergeyn
Un az er leygt zikh ruen anider tsurik geyn muz er bald vider
Der toyt iz im shoyn liber vayl er vert dokh shtark geplogt
Er vert shnel shvakh un krank, vayl shtunden shteyt er lang
Er geyt shoyn bald a gang vayl dos harts im imer nogt!

Many workers come here, of all sorts,
And not a one works as hard as the baker in New York.
He has to stay up at night and go to work
All week he's a stranger to his wife and child.
He's always in a bad way, he doesn't have a life to speak of.
He may well lament and complain: what did he do to deserve this?

Oy, it's bad for him, he's up every night, he's falling off his feet.
Sleepy, exhausted, the highest degree of heat,
His life is always an ugly one!

What then does he know of pleasure, when is he free?
Since day and night he lies in the cellar, in the bakery.
He doesn't have Shabbat, he doesn't enjoy a bit of fresh air,
The sweat is flowing off him, he works beyond his strength.
Shabbat morning at ten he's already standing in the cellar.
He can't see his wife and child, the smoke is choking him.

The smoke constricts his throat, his eyes burn
The boss oppresses him as much as he can
The boss plagues him and the worker must be silent
He can't say a word because he's full to the brim with trouble
The boss does as he likes, he drives the worker crazy
And he, poor thing, stands silent - because he's sleepy and tired

And when he goes home to rest, you'll then see him,
He's dragging his feet like a cripple, he can barely stand it,
And when he lies down to rest, soon he has to go back again.
Death already seems better than this as he is so tormented.
He soon becomes weak and sick because he stands hour after hour.
He'll die soon because his heart is always gnawing at him.





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

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