Researching Yiddish penny songs (tenement song broadsides of theater and variety show songs, 1895-1925)
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Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Shtoyst zikh on (Figure it out yourself) - Solomon Small sang it in 1910 and I sang it today.

UPDATE: The lyrics for two verses of this song were found in Solomon Small's own magazine of (primarily his own) Yiddish theater song lyrics, but it took a while to find the melody (on the recording you'll find below, which I bought on eBay). Updating because four years ago I had somehow mislaid my own version so today when I wanted to write it up for my "Yiddish pour tous" series, I had to sing it over again.

Also, Mordkhe Miller and Ri Turner helped me figure out the words to the third verse. I guess it was a little too risque to be printed on the sheet music. The music teacher and his beautiful student work on the piano, the verb is tsimblen which means play the cimbalom, strike the cymbals; make a racket, play boisterous music; thrash, beat and it sometimes is used for people beating on each other and it also is a rough synonym for banging, which would have been the cruder translation. Anyway, here's my recording from this morning:



And also to point out this song has the same "nudge nudge wink wink" theme as a song I posted in December: Dos iberike farshteyt aleyn (and the rest, you understand).

Now back to the real thing: I found the Smulewitz record on ebay. What a great orchestra! The song is by Arnold Perlmutter and Herman Wohl with words by Louis Gilrod. The singer is composer and performer Solomon Small (originally Solomon Smulewitz) but the song was originally out in 1909 featuring Bessie Thomashefsky - it's from Boris Thomashefsky's show Dos pintele yid (or as it says on the sheet music Das pintele yud). You'll find it spelled Shtoist sich on or Shtoist zikh on. I love this recording!


I'm sad the third verse (about, I assume, a lecherous piano teacher) is not printed in the sheet music. If anybody wants to figure it out I'd be grateful. Email me if you do.

The YIVO transliteration of the Yiddish and my translation after the jump.




Di mode fun der letster tsayt tsu zogn bin ikh aykh do oysn
Es git fil zakhn haynt bay layt vos me darf zikh aleyn oyf zey shtoysn
A moyd, tsum bayshpil, zet ir arumgeyn shpatsirn mit fil yungelayt
Un vos zi zukht darft ir zikh onshtoysn un visn shoyn vos dos badayt
Vos zi zukht, vos ir felt, volt ikh aykh do gants ofn dertseylt

Nor shtoyst zikh on, zayt klug un shtoyst zikh on
Azelkhe zakhn zaynen gants laykht tsum farshteyn
Klert nit keyn sakh, dos iz a klore zakh,
Zayt nit keyn goylem, shtoyst zikh on aleyn

A raykher man hot lib zayn froy, far libe falt er far ir koyrim
Nor zi iz, nebekh, krank azoy, men halt in eyn rufn doktoyrim.
Ambestn ven dem man nor farglust zikh tsu redn mit zayn froy a vort,
Iz gor di tir fun tsimer farshlosn, der yuntgitshker doktor iz dort.
Af vos zi krenkt, un vos ir felt, volt ikh aykh do gants ofn dertseylt

Nor shtoyst zikh on, zayt klug un shtoyst zikh on,
Azelkhe zakhn zaynen gants laykht tsum farshteyn.
S'a klore zakh, a doktor helft a sakh,
Zayt nit keyn yoldes, shtoist zikh on aleyn.

A muzik lerer kumt arayn gants oft tsu der fraylin Ane
Un zitst zi lernen zeyer fayn tsu tsimblen af der fortepyane
Der sheyner lerer arbet shverlekh un tsimblt mit ir nokh a tsayt
Nor plutsim nemt dos fraylin zikh baklogn
Es stekht ir un brekht ir a zayt
Vot zi iz, vot ir fehlt
Volt der lerer aykh gants laykht dertseylt

Nor shtoyst zikh on, zayt klug un shtoyst zikh on
Azelkhe zakhn zaynen gants laykht tsum farshteyn
Es hot farshat dos tsimblen libe layt
Zayt nit keyn goylem, shtoyst zikh on aleyn


I'm going to tell you about how things are nowadays.
A lot of things people are doing today, you ought to be able to figure them out yourself.
A girl, for example, you see her walking around with a lot of young guys,
And what she's looking for, you yourself can guess, and know what it means.
What she's looking for, what she's lacking, I'd tell you about it here:

But figure it out yourself, be smart and figure it out,
Such things are easy to understand.
Don't think about it, it's pretty clear
Don't be a dummy, figure it out yourself.

A rich man loves his wife, he prostrates himself with adoration.
But she, poor thing, is sick, doctors are constantly being summoned.
Especially when the husband just wants a word with his wife,
The door is locked! The new young doctor is with her...
What's making her sick, what she's lacking, I could explain to you here...

But figure it out yourself, be smart and figure it out,
Such things are easy to understand.
It's clear! A doctor is a lot of help!
Don't be chumps, figure it out yourself.

A music teacher comes often to visit Fraulein Anna
He sits and teachers her very well to play on the piano.
The handsome teacher works hard and plays with her quite a while.
But suddenly the Fraulein complains she has a pain in her "side."
The teacher could easily tell you what she is, what she's lacking,

But figure it out yourself, be smart and figure it out,
Such things are easy to understand.
Turned out all that playing was a bad idea, good people.
Don't be a dummy, figure it out yourself.

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

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