Researching Yiddish penny songs (tenement song broadsides of theater and variety show songs, 1895-1925)
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Thursday, March 29, 2018

Gotenyu, gib dos redele a drey (God, turn the wheel) - 1916 Yiddish theater song.

Yiddish music and literature often refers to the wheel of fortune, and reminds us, for instance, that luck and money are "round" - one day they roll to us, the next day they roll away. This song was published in 1916, words by Louis Gilrod, music by Joseph Rumshisky. Sung in Max Gabel's show "A Girl's Revenge" by the very young Henrietta Jacobson. Spelled "Gotteniu gib a dreh dus redele" on the sheet music.

Max Gabel was born in 1877 in Western Galicia. When he was 11 his father died and he and his mother and sister whent to America. He worked in a factory but also wrote pieces for the Yiddish Theater.

In 1895 Gabel became a professional actor and his work became widely staged. He married Jennie Goldstein when she was only 16. He is credited with having written 120 plays and he died in Los Angeles in 1952.

I could not find a period recording of this song so here is the recording I made this morning:

Lyrics and translation after the jump.

Gotenyu, gib dos redele a drey

Fun tsveytn hoyz dos meydele trogt a naye sheyn kleydele
Naye shikh un zekelekh, hot sheyne royte bekelekh,
Tseyndelekh vi perelekh, sheyn farkempte herelekh.
Ir tate mame zenen raykh un koyfn ir a yede zakh.
Ikh hob a tate oykh gehat a mol.
Yetst bin ikh a yesoyme un men plogt mikh gor on tsol!

Gotenyu gib a drey dos redele un helf a yesoyme an orem meydele
Un s'khis fun mayn toytn tatenyu helf mayn orem mamenyu
Tatenyu, biter iz mir on dir
Di kinder in gas, zey varfn zikh mit mir.
Got, Got, mayne trerelekh derze un gib shoyn dos redele a drey, oy Got!

Ikh bin oykh a meydele, ikh darf oykh a sheyn kleydele!
Tsu vos kumt mir di shmates nor, kleydelekh mit lates gor?
Tut on mir zakhn reyninke, vel ikh oykh zayn a sheyninke
Un zol mayn mame zayn gezint vel ikh oykh zayn a gliklekh kind!

The girl next door has a pretty new dress, new shoes, a new purse,
She has pretty red cheeks,
Teeth like pearls, pretty combed hair.
Her parents are rich and buy her everything.
I, too, once had a father.
Now I'm an orphan and I'm endlessly plagued.

God, give the wheel a turn and help an orphan, a poor girl,
May my father in heaven intercede for my poor mother.
Father, it's bitter here for me without you,
The kids in the street bully me.
God, see my tears and give the wheel a turn.

I too am a girl, I too should have a pretty dress!
Why do I get only rags, dresses full of holes?
Put clean things on me and I, too, will be pretty.
And as long as my mother is healthy,
I too will be a happy child!

For sheet music and/or performances contact me:


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