Researching Yiddish penny songs (tenement song broadsides of theater and variety show songs, 1895-1925)
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Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Aza mazl afn Keyser! (The Kaiser should have my luck) - Yiddish theater song from 1918

Left is Samuel Rosenstein, who produced Gelebt un Gelakht (Live and Laugh) and, as the son Julius, sang this song in the show.

At the outbreak of World War I New York Jews were against the allies because their archenemy Nicholas II of Russia was one of them. However, by the time this song was written Nicholas had been overthrown and the Russians had left the war. Then they saw that Kaiser Wilhelm was no prize and by the time America threw in with the Allies, the Jews were on board, as this song shows.

Also transliterated Aza mazel aufin kaiser and Aza mazl auf'n Keiser.

I couldn't find a recording of it so I sang it myself last night.



Words (transliteration and translation of the Yiddish) after the jump.



AZA MAZL OYFN KAYSER

Imer flegn mentshn zikh baklogn:
Hot men eynem ongekhapt in strit,
Gefregt im "how is biznes," flegt er zogn:
"Groyse tsores, biznes toygn nit."
Git atsind a freg a biznesman: vi geyt di biznes, mister?"
Fregt dem butsher, fregt dem grocer, fregt dem shnayder, fregt dem shuster.
Veln zey zikh nit baklogn, zikh nit ampern, nit shlogn,
Tsuzamen, on reklamen, veln zey aykh zogn:

Aza mazl afn kayser, asa mazl afn kayser...
Fregt a fraynd "Vi geyt es aykh?"
Dan entfert er aykh glaykh:
Aza mazl afn kayser, aza mazl afn kayser.
Zol der beyzer, daytsher kayser in di hayzer geyn.

Charlie iz geven a tsaytungs shrayger,
A signalman, gezunt vi a soldat,
Geshribn nor az er hot faynt di vayber,
Biz er hot gor khasene gehat.
Host geheyrat, zog ikh, Charlie, kumt dokh dikh tsu gratulirn.
Bistu gliklekh? Zog keyn lign, entfert er mikh mit a nign:
Mayn fraynd, you know, vos far a froy ikh hob gekrign...

Aza mazl afn kayser, asa mazl afn kayser...
Es iz a veytik tsu mayn layb, oy, gevald, hob ikh a vayb!
Aza mazl afn kayser, asa mazl afn kayser...
Zi heyst Sore, aza tsore, af dem kayser nor.

Uncle Sam iz yetst in der milkhome
Yeder birger nemt di shverd in hand,
Fun dem daytshn hund nemen nekome,
Kempfn far dem frayen foterland.
Oysgefunen hot der daytsh, di Yenkee boys kenen shlogn
Itst halt er in eyn antloyfn un zey haltn in eyn yogn
Heldish kempft oykh dort a yidl, halt a biks onshtot a nidl,
Er shist fun trentsh un zingt in "French" dos zelbe lidl:

Aza mazl afn kayser, asa mazl afn kayser...
Shisn froyen, alte layt,
Dos ken der daytsh, der khvat.
Aza mazl afn kayser, asa mazl afn kayser...
Men vet di daytshn gut tsupatshn
Un martshn keyn Berlin.


People always used to complain, when you caught up with them in the street,
you asked a guy: "How's business," he'd say: "Blegh, it's lousy."
Now if you ask a businessman, "how's it going, mister?" -
Ask the butcher, the grocer, the tailor, the shoemaker -
They won't complain, they won't answer, they won't hit you,
Together, without broadcasting it, they'll say to you:

"The Kaiser should have my luck."
Ask a friend, "How's it going?",
He'll say the same thing.
"I wish my luck on the Kaiser!"
May that evil German Kaiser go begging around the village."

Charlie wrote for the newspapers. A single man, healthy as a soldier.
He wrote that he hated women, (that is,
until he got married).
I go walking on Second Avenue, I meet up with Charlie, he's walking, too. "You got married, Charlie!" I say, "I've come to congratulate you!"
"Are you happy? Don't lie." He answers with a tune. "My friend, you know what kind of a wife I got!"

"The Kaiser should have my luck! It's a misery in my life, oy gevald, what a wife I have!"
"May the Kaiser have luck like this. Her name's Sore, she's a misery - if only the Kaiser had her!"

Uncle Sam's in the war now. Every citizen's taking a sword in hand,
Getting revenge on the German dog,
Fighting for the free Fatherland.
The German found out the Yankee boys can fight.
Now he's always running and they're always rushing after him.
The Jew's also fighting heroically, holding a rifle instead of a needle.
He shoots from the trench and sings in French this same song:

"The Kaiser should have this luck! The jaunty fellow shoots women and old people.
This luck on the Kaiser: the Germans will be beaten up and we'll march to Berlin."




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

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