Researching Yiddish penny songs (tenement song broadsides of theater and variety show songs, 1895-1925)
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Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Froyen rekht (Womens rights) sung by Gus Goldstein in 1911

Womens suffrage was not an easy sell in misogynistic America. The suffragettes struggled year after year and were not successful in getting the right to vote until 1920.

In the Gimpel Beynish cartoons, Gimpel (a matchmaker by trade) ends up working for the ladies because he needs a buck. But he isn't happy about it as you can see from this image.

I believe part of why Yiddish songs from the early twentieth century are not beloved is because they are so misogynistic.

Here's the song, from 1916, sung by Gus Goldstein. On the record the transliteration is Frouen recht.


The interesting word barayen: What I found online was "Luxembourgish / Old High German bihriuwan; regret. German bereuen regret, repent, rue.

The interesting lyrics of the song, with my translation, after the jump. Before that I just want to dump a bunch of cool images on the subject. There are multiple dissertations waiting to be written.





Froyen rekht

Fil nayes brengt yetst aroys di tsayt
Ikh denk s'iz nit azoy shlekht
Di vayber veln zayn glaykh mit layt
Zey kempfen tsu hobn fil rekht
Farshidene froyen fun alerlay rasn
Tsu zenen tsu klern oys plener
Zey loyfn arum un men sptitsht in di gasn
Tsu makhn a strayk mit di mener
Un zey shrayen pruft nor trayen
Ven nit vet ir dan barayen:

Folgt nor dem gutn plan
Hert nit tsufil dem man
Tomer hot ir moyre vet far aykh zayn shlekht
Koym kumt er shpet tsu geyn
Farfirt im bald in di tseyn
Shtelt zikh groys shrayt bald oys:
Lebn zol froyen rekht

Mir veln hobn di gantse makht
Di mener haltn far fon
Mir veln kumen nokh halbe nakht
Toyt shiker aheym fun salon
Mir veln nit zayn mer farshklaft vi atsinder
Vayl dos iz far undz nit keyn maykhl
Di mener zey veln unds hobn di kinder
Mir veln zikh gletn in baykhl
Vayber, meydn, vilt ir freydn?
Hert aykh tsu vos ikh vil redn:

Elekshon tsayt ven s'vet kumen do
Vet zayn bay undz in di hend
300 kush tsu a yeder froy
Vet gebn undz der Prezident
Mir veln nit kukn tsi greser tsi klener
Vayl mir hobn gute printsipn
Mir veln nor voutn far dem vos iz shener
Un ver es vet mer intershtipn
Ofitsirn veln krapirn mit zey zoln shpatsirn

Di froyen veln polislayt zayn
Af yedn korner tsvey, dray
Ven a ganev falt in di hent arayn
Git er nor a kush, iz er fray
Eyn zakh iz nit git fun di yetstike plener
In hartsn ken undz nokh dem klemen
Koym viln mir straykn tsi fil mit di mener
Veln zey "skebs" tsu der arbet zikh nemen
Me darf probirn git shtudirn
Nor keyn muth keyn muth farlirn

There's lots of news these days, I don't think it's so bad
The women want to be equal to men, they're struggling for a lot of rights
All sorts of women from all races are thinking up plans
They're running around making speeches in the streets
They want to strike against the men
And they cry out: "Just try it --
If not, you'll regret it!"

Follow this good plan, don't listen too much to your husband
lest you be afraid things will go badly for you
As soon as he comes home late pop him in the teeth
Hold your head up high, cry out:
Long live women's rights!

We'll have all the power, we'll keep men just for fun
We'll come home from the salon past midnight, dead drunk
We won't be slaves any more, as we are now
Because we don't find that palatable at all
The men will have the kids for us
We'll pat our bellies
Women, girls, do you want to be happy?
Listen to what I tell you:

When Election time comes, we'll have it in our hands
300 kisses per woman will give us the presidency
We won't care about tall or short because we have good principles
We'll just vote for the one who's prettier and who can advance us farther
Officers will kick the bucket, they'll go walking with them

Women will be police officers, two or three on every corner
When a thief falls into their hands, If he just gives a kiss he's free
There's one thing about the plans these days that's not so good
It aggrieves our hearts
If we strike against the men too much they'll hire scabs
We need to experiment and study carefully
But not lose heart




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

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