Researching Yiddish penny songs (tenement song broadsides of theater and variety show songs, 1895-1925)
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Monday, October 16, 2017

Guter bruder, nit gekhapt - a Yiddish song about fighting sexual harassment sung by Pepi Litmann c 1907

Also seen as Giter Bruder nicht gechapt, Giter brider nisht gechapt, and Giter Brüder nicht gechapt, this song was published in 1907 and, along with the previous song on the blog, is from the Professor Hurwitz show Malke Shvo (Queen of Sheba).

In that show it was sung by "Madame Shapiro" but I found only this 78 by Pepi Littman...

(Incidentally, the flip side is Norbert Glimer singing that weird and wonderful song Yente di Royte -- aka Jent di roiti kom, Yentl die roti kom -- which I posted on the blog.)

The song title is weirdly translated online as I Don Not Have a Good Brother.  

Khapn means to catch, grab, grasp (meaning) ... hurry, rush. So כאַפּט נישט is translated in the dictionary as "Not so fast! Take it easy!"

I found the second line odd. מיען זיך means to strive, take pains, trouble oneself, and מיִען זיך פֿאַר means "intercede on behalf of." I tentatively chose this last meaning. If the grandmother is deceased, then she can intercede in behalf of her granddaughter with the Master of the Universe.

In another Pepi Littmann song previously posted here, Mener, Mener, she sang in passing: "If a man insults me, let him not deceive himself, I'll shame him with some fine blows." Here the threats are vociferous and prolonged.

The melody of this song is fascinating, it's sort of pentatonic.

Pepi generally dressed in men's clothing onstage. She had a great voice. Here she is singing Guter bruder:

Transliteration and translation after the jump.

Giter brider nisht gekhapt

Ikh bin a vaybl zeyer a gite vi mayn bobe zol zikh mien
Un hot nor ver tsu mir a bite bin ikh fartik bald tsu tien
Du megst farlangen vos nisht iz vos iz nor do in mayn hoys
Kum tsu mir un du poylst gevis
Nor dos eyne nem ikh oys:

Giter brider nisht gekhapt, khapn iz nit git,
Az du vest khapn vel ikh klopn klopn biz in blit.
Oy vestu krign ongeklapt az der kop vet dir arop
Dan vestu visn Reb Yungerman:
Az men khapt, brit men zikh op op.

Ikh ken a meydl, zeyer a sheyne,
Un a yunger man, a gantser makher
Zi iz a whtile un a fayne,
Un er iz a mieser doverakher
Hot dos porl zikh bakent,
Un er kumt tsu ir shoyn ale tog
Er hoybt on krikhn mit di hent,
Un zi git im bald dem posek a zog:

Oykh hob ikh a frayndl heyst er Itsik,
Er hot a vaybl vunder sheyn,
Zi iz voyle, klug un vitsik,
Nor hert vos s'iz mit ir geshen.
Zi hot opgeredt mit a sharlatan,
Zi zol antlofn fun ir man's hoyz
Zi vil dos tuen, kumt on ir man,
Khapt er dem bokher un shrayt oys:

I'm a very good wife, may my grandmother intercede for me)
And if somebody just says "please", I'm ready to do whatever.
You can ask for anything in my house
Come to my place, you'll certainly get your way,
But there's just one condition.

Good brother, don't grab, grabbing is no good.
If you grab I'll hit you back, I'll beat you bloody.
Oy, you'll get beaten up, your head will fall off.
Then you'll know, young man: if you grab, you'll get burnt.

I know a very pretty girl and a young man who's quite the operator.
She's quiet and refined, he's an ugly pig.
This couple met and he visited her every day.
His hands began creeping around and she quickly read him the riot act.

Also, I have a friend named Itzik, he has an amazingly beautiful wife
She's really nice, clever and amusing, but hear what happened with her:
A charlatan led her astray, convincing her to run away from her husband's house
She wants to do it, so her husband comes along,
He grabs the boy and shouts:

For sheet music and/or performances contact me:

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