Researching Yiddish penny songs (tenement song broadsides of theater and variety show songs, 1895-1925)
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Saturday, September 30, 2017

Az du kenst nit un veyst nit, nemt men zikh nit unter (If you can't do it and don't understand, don't try it.)

I picked this song because I loved the title. I wasn't able to find a period recording (or any recording) so I sang it myself this morning.

I don't know much about it. The music was written by Perlmutter & Wohl, the words by Hyman Altman, and it was sung by Mr Bernstein.

The transliteration they use is: As du kenst nit un weist nit, nemt men sich nit unter.

A second published music cover says it is from the "Latest Comedydrama played with great success at the Peoples Theatre" - the show being Dos Darfs Meydl (The Village Girl or The Country Girl).

Here's my recording:

Words after the jump.

Az du kenst nit un du veyst nit, nem zikh nit unter.

Dos iz a klal af der gantser velt vos yeder veyst dos gut
Koym hot nor eyner a bisl gelt dan muz er oykh in biznes zayn genit
Mayn landsman hot fil gelt ersht farmogt
In bisnes geyt er bald mit eynem ayn
Un atsind kumt er tsu mir un veynt un klogt
Ikh entfer im: Es darf azoy tsu zayn.

Krikh nit vu men darf nit vet zayn far di gezunter
Az du kenst nit un du veyst nit, nem zikh nit unter.

A yungerman hot nit lang gebrakht fun yurop zayn vaybl do
A mol kumt er fun dem shop bay nakht, er zet zayn vaybl iz in shtub nishto
Nor plutsling kumt a shokhn tsu geyn: "Arestet hot men zi in gas!"
Der man loyft shnel vi er hot zi nor gezen
Dan vert er beyz un zogt tsu ir mit kas:

An alter man mit groye hor er shmekt shoyn af yener velt
Er nemt a meydl fun akhstn yor zi heyrat mit im vayl er hot fil gelt
Itst plogt zi im un zogt im gor prost:
"Ikh vil du zolst mikh geyen getn glaykh."
"S'taytsh!? Host mikh mayn gants gelt upkekost!"
Dan vert zi kalt un entfert mit a lakh:

This is a worldwide rule everybody knows:
As soon as one has a bit of money he must become proficient.
My landsman earned a lot of money, he soon went into business with somebody
And now he comes to me crying and lamenting.
I answer him: It has to be this way

Don't go where you don't belong, it'll be healthier for you.
If you don't have the ability or the understanding, don't undertake it.

A young man brought his wife over from Europe recently.
One night he came home from the shop, he sees his wife isn't at home.
Suddenly a neighbor comes: "They arrested her in the street!"
The man runs quickly and when he sees her he angrily says to her:

An old man with grey hair, already smelling like the world to come,
He takes an 18-year-old girl, she marries him because he's loaded.
Now she complains to him and says bluntly: "I want you to divorce me right now."
"What?! You cost me all my money!" Then she coldly answers with a laugh:

For sheet music and/or performances contact me:

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