Researching Yiddish penny songs (tenement song broadsides of theater and variety show songs, 1895-1925)
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Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Mayn vayb iz in der country, hurray! Yiddish theater song recorded by William Schwartz in 1919

Feast your eyes on the dishy singer William Schwartz. You can read about him at a post about one of his other songs: Oy oy di vayber. He's also the singer of Hit aykh, meydlekh!.

AKA Mein Weib is in der Country Huray! and Mein Weib is in der Country Hurray!

For decades this trope: working men sent their families out to "the country" (perhaps the Catskills) ostensibly for the healthier air and curative life - while they gloated to be at home on the Lower East Side without their wives to hold them back from favorite ... pursuits. The other side of this was men fearing the wives out in the country were having ... too good a time. Sometimes coming home pregnant.

Two more songs on this subject are Gevald di mantens (1923, Adolph King) and Mayn vayb kumt fun Zakopane (1929, a local favorite in Warsaw Poland)

So, this song: The first delight is the tune, a combination of a cake-walk and a march.

The second delight is the multitude of Yinglish words to wallow in, just feast your eyes on them after the jump!

Best of all is this: "Tsu hobn a vayb, dos iz der grester misteyk, ikh leb atsinder punkt vi Got in Passaic."

The original phrase (which I discussed here: In Odess) was: Men lebt vi Got in Odess, that is, "one lives as God lives in Odessa." It was used to describe a place where unbelievers and those intent on licentious behavior can cavort freely because God is paying no attention - and he's paying no attention because he's on holiday among them, and he's chosen Odessa as his dream destination because nobody will bother him there.

Here, Isidore Lillian has deemed Passaic, New Jersey to be the New World's Odessa. Hahahahaha.

(If my interpretation is wrong I'm sure somebody will correct me.)

Without further ado, have a listen!

This kind of awful (but wonderful to listen to) song came from the show of the same name by Joseph Rumshinsky (Rumshisky) and Boris Thomashefsky, at the National Theatre. The sheet music was published in 1918 and shows that Isidor Lillian wrote the words and Thomashefsky sang the song in the show with Kalman Juvelier. I couldn't find a recording of their duet. Words (transliteration from the Yiddish and translation) after the jump.

Mayn vayb iz in der country, hurray hurray!

Kh'hob nit keyn vayb, kh'bin vider singel, you see
S'heyst, ikh hob yo a vayb, nor in kontri iz zi.
Ikh bin nit keyn almen, dokh iz mir ales lib,
Nor vayl ikh ze nit mayn vayb bay mir in shtib.
Ikh shlof gantse teg un ikh bin uf gantse nekht.
Ikh zits un farbrengt mit dem faynem geshlekht.
Ikh es un ikh trink, a frayer foygl ikh bin,
Ikh leb a tog un mayn vayb veyst nit derfin.

Yo, mayn vayb iz in der kontri, hurey hurey!
Es iz mir git, zi felt mir nit, khalevay biz nekstn May.
Ikh hob ir dort geshikt, ir gezunt tsu fiksen zikh
Men vet zi dort fiksen, do vet men fiksen mikh,
Mayn vayb iz in der country, hurray hurray!

Farglust zikh mir kortn, shpil ikh far tsayt-fartrayb,
Un farglust zikh mir, shpil ikh mit mayn shokhn's vayb.
Atsind shpil ikh poyker in der rikhtiker "game"
Ikh darf nit kviten, ikh ayl mikh nit aheym.
Tsu hobn a vayb, dos iz der grester misteyk,
Ikh leb atsinder punkt vi Got in Passaic.
Ikh bet Got, der zumer zol in vinter arayn,
Un shtendik zol mayn vayb in der kontri zayn.

I don't have a wife, I'm single again, you see.
That is, yes, I have a wife, but she's in the country.
I'm not a widower, of course I'm happy with everything
Because I don't see my wife here in the house.
I sleep all day and I'm up all night.
I sit and pass the time with the finer sex.
I eat and drink, I'm a free bird,
I live quite a day - and my wife doesn't know about it.

Yes! My wife is in the country, hurray, hurray!
I'm having a great time, I don't miss her,
and I won't - at least until next May.
I sent her there to fix her health
She'll get fixed there ... meanwhile I'll get fixed here!
My wife is in the country, hurrah, hurray!

If I suddenly feel like playing cards,
I play to pass the time, and if I feel like it,
I play with my neighbor's wife.
Now I play poker in the best game in town.
I don't have to quit - I don't hurry home.
Having a wife is the biggest mistake.
Now I live just like God in Passaic.
I pray to God the summer will last right into winter
and that my wife will always be in the country.

a few keywords

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