Researching Yiddish penny songs (tenement song broadsides of theater and variety show songs, 1895-1925)
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Friday, February 17, 2017

Oy oy di vayber! Written by Rubin Doctor, sung by William Schwartz

This guy has nothing bad to say about women, which makes this an exceptional song. Well, he does say his wife ran away, but he doesn't seem resentful and it didn't keep him from trying again.

The singer, William Schwartz (left), was very dishy. He was born in April 8, 1894 in Yassi, Romania into a poor family and didn't get much education. The family emigrated to New York in 1905; he sold newspapers in the street and went to night school. In 1911 he went to St Louis to begin his days as a wandering Yiddish Theater actor and in 1914 Jacob P Adler took him into the Liberty Theater in New York, then Thomashevsky hired him for the National Theater and, with his handsome face and beautiful voice he became the toast of the town. He and his wife Blanche had at least one child, Shirley Schwartz, born in September 1916, and Leonard, born December 24 1921. I'd love to hear from descendants.

Here he is singing Rubin Doctor's song:


Rubin Doctor was born in Bessarabia in 1882, his dad was a kosher meat tax collector. As a teenager he emigrated to England and became a Yiddish theater actor and worked in vaudeville. In 1908 he came to America, continuing to work vaudeville. He wrote many songs, maybe "Chicken" and "Ikh bin a border bay mayn vayb" are currently his most famous.

I have the habit of loving every woman, but without luck
I don't consider any of them ugly, I press them to my heart
I love them like my life
I'm a sacrifice to them
Without them my life is dreary
I'd die for them

Oy, the women, I love them
Every step of the way they please me
Oy, the women, I'll love them even in my grave
Without a woman, brother, it's not good
Keyle, Beyle, Yente, Shoshe, Sime, Blume, Feyge, Rose,
They make things happy in every house
Ugly, beautiful, married, single,
An old grannie - anybody in a skirt
Oy, oy, the women, I love them

Don't think I'm single, listen to this miracle:
I had a wife myself, she pleased me, but, children,
My Khaye ran away one week, may it not happen to you,
I didn't have to think about it long
I caught a new wife.


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

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