Researching Yiddish penny songs (tenement song broadsides of theater and variety show songs, 1895-1925)
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Youtube: all the Penny Songs I've recorded so far (with subtitles)

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Monday, February 8, 2016

Ikh hob mayn vayb ibergefikst (I renovated my wife) - misogynistic Yiddish variety show song sung by Vaudevillian Morris Goldstein

This song is too annoying to sing. Luckily I have a great recording of it from 1908 by Morris Goldstein, a Yiddish theater star who used to be famous but who is now invisible. His 78 is called Dos ibergefikste vayb (Dos ibergefixte weib). Click the strange woman below to hear Goldstein's version as I put it on youtube with a translation and lyrics from the American Yiddish Penny Song song sheet (included below).

The broadside says: "to the tune of Samulesko's Bill of Fare" - that's probably Dave Samolesko of First Yiddish Atlantic Garden and Thalia Music Hall by way of Romania and England.

At the LOC site you'll find two songs in English called "Bill of Fare" from the turn of the century. (I couldn't find Samulesko's.) Evidently people used to think it was riotously amusing to list scores of preposterous foods swallowed by a mythical greedy female, a freserke who will soon bankrupt her swain with her appetites.

There's another Yiddish version of this trope, which I previously posted: Mayn Kale's Apetit.

Click for a larger view of this, the first page:

Letste vokh hob ikh khasene gehat mit a moyd vos iz mies vi di nakht
Nor vayl zh hot gehat fil gelt, hob ikh zeyer nit lang batrakht
Ikh bin farheyrat bloyz a kurtse tsayt, ikh hob dem nadn tsum tsetl geshtelt
Ikh hob zi gemuzt iberfiksen af's nay, hert vos ikh hob far mayn vayb bashtelt

Ikh hob bashtelt a plumber ir tsu fiksen a fis
Kh'hob bashtelt a bleksmit ir tsu fiksen dem his
Ikh hob bashtelt a butcher ir tsu fiksen di tseyn
Ir gekoyft a por klyatshes zi zol kenen geyn
Hob bashtelt a glezer ir araynshteln an oyg
Ir ongeton a royt feferil far a gut oyg
Ir gefikst di 'muscles,' gefikst ire hend
Fun dem gantsen nadn iz mir nit geblibn a sent.

Haynt ir figurl iz nor eyn antik
Zi tsit zikh vi a 'robber' un zi trogt a parik
Lang un dar iz zi vi a huz
Shtendik ka-kapet ir fun der nuz
Ir ponim iz breyt vi a lokshen top
Punkt 23 hor af dem kopf
Geshtiplt kargone, toyb un blind
Ven zi tut oys ire 'bustles' vegt zi punkt tsvelf punt.

Zi hot a por noz lekher punkt vi a toyer
Zi iz nit partikele, es felt ir an oyer,
Zi hot hiner oygen groys vi a soldat
Un punkt af der noz a shvartsn 'spot'
A por lipn hot zi greser nokh vi bay a ku
A kheyn pintl hot zi punkt af der kni
Zi redt tshipilave un dertsu iz zi nokh foil
Ikh muz 'yuzn' an ombrela vayl zi shpritst fun dem moyl.

[Zi shloft in di zokn un khrapet zeyer mies
Mit kokeritsh poyder bashit ikh ir di fis
Zi varft zikh fun dem shlof punkt vi a moyz
Tsen mol a nakht falt zi fun bet aroys
Zi driget mit di fis un zi hert nit uf
Ikh muz shlepn di koldre arop un aruf
Zi git in mitn shlof kontsert an antik
Ikh muz efenen di 'vinde' fun der tayerer muzik]

Tsu di ale tsores iz zi krank dertsu
Zi mozlt yedn fraytog zi hot krempfn in kni
Pendisitis mit dipterie hot zi plente genug
Kadokhes mit kholerie dray mol a tog
Zumer nebekh ken zi gor nit laydn di hits
Vinter in di frestn krigt zi bald di fits
In mit dem alemen vos zi iz krank azoy
Meynt ir efsher az zi ken nit fresn vi a goy

A gefraytn kokeritsh op tu 'date'
Gemikst mit konsumpshen sup a 'plate'
A 'vodermelon' gefilt mit gruz
A gezatenem hotkorn fun tsvantsik fus
Geshtopte varenikes mit khazir hor
Litvishe smetene mit barn a por
Tsimes flomen mit tsimis nahit
Az zi heybt on tsu fresn vert mir azsh nit git

Shmutsik iz zi un dertsu nokh fresh
A yedn monat tshenzet zi di vesh
'Decoration Day' geyt zi in a shvits
In a teater veynt zi ven zi hert a vits
Di skoyt ferlirt zi shtendik unter zikh
Di veyst iz ofn, zi krimt oys shikh
Zi iz fun top to bodem a slob
Ikh vintsh aykh mayne fraynde ir zolt krign aza vayb

Last week I married a woman ugly as the night
But because she has a lot of money, I didn't think about it very long
I was only married a short while, I put the dowry toward a list
I had to fix my wife from the bottom up, hear what I arranged for her

I hired a plumber to fix her foot, I hired a blacksmith to fix her parts
I hired a butcher to fix her teeth, I bought a couple of old nags so she could get around
I hired a glazier to put in an eye, I put a red mole on her for the good eye
I fixed her muscles, fixed her hands
There wasn't even a cent left over from the whole dowry

Furthermore, her figure is really odd.
She's tall as a robber and she wears a wig.
She's as long and thin as a hare.
Her nose is always running.
Her face is as broad as a pot of noodles.
She has exactly 23 hairs on her head.
A freckled snub nose, she's deaf and blind,
When she takes off her bustles she weighs exactly twelve pounds.

She has two nostrils like an archway.
She isn't particular, she's missing an ear.
She has chicken eyes as big as a soldier.
And a black spot right on her nose.
She has lips bigger than a cow's.
She has a pretty spot right on her knee.
She speaks with a lisp, and further, she's lazy.
I have to use an umbrella because she sprays from her mouth.

She sleeps in her socks and has an ugly snore.
She sprinkles cockroach powder on her feet.
She throws herself from sleep just like a mouse.
She falls out of bed ten times a night.
She thrashes her legs and doesn't stop.
I have to drag the covers up and down.
She gives a weird concert while she sleeps.
I have to open the window because of her precious music.

Beyond all these troubles, she's also sick.
She has measles every Friday, she has cramps in her knee.
She has plenty of appendicitis and diphteria,
An ague and cholera three times a day.
In the summer, poor thing, she can't take the heat.
In the frost of winter she soon has 'fits.'
And though she's so sick,
Don't think she can't stuff her face like a goy.

A fried cockroach, up to date,
Mixed with a plate of consumption soup,
A watermelon full of debris,
Twenty ears of greased popcorn (or a greasy 20-foot-long hotdog?)
Varenikes filled with pig bristles
Lithuanian sour cream with a couple of pears
Plum pudding with chickpea pudding
When she begins gobbling, I don't feel so good

She's dirty and insolent besides
She changes the bedclothes once a month
She gets in a sweat over Decoration Day.
In the theater she cries when she hears a joke.
Her skirt gets lost under her,
Her shirtwaist is open, she twists her shoes,
From top to bottom she's a slob!
My friends, I wish such a wife on you.

For sheet music and/or performances contact me:

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