Researching Yiddish penny songs (tenement song broadsides of theater and variety show songs, 1895-1925)
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Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Yeder eyner straykt atsind! (Everybody is striking now!) Yiddish theater hit from 1920

The composer is Herman Wohl, the lyricist is Louis Gilrod though as usual Boris Thomashefsky gives himself credit. The song is from a show called "The Two Cantors" (the two cantors were originally played by David Kessler and Boris Thomashefsky). It says on the sheet music that Sam Kasten sang this song.

I'm sort of in love with the corrupted mish mash of language here. Gestraykt is Yinglish and look at all the other examples: paykers, straykers, kars, eleveters, sobveys, steyk, frayt petetis, "voking delegat" (a walking delegate is "a labor union representative appointed to visit members and their places of employment, to secure enforcement of union rules and agreements, and at times to represent the union in dealing with employers")...

... and union of course, and box. I assumed that "the bosses are in the box" means they are trapped. Oh, and note Gilrod rhymes "Karl Marx" with "box." Hah hah.

Here is the handsome Yiddish theater star, singer Sam Kasten.

I couldn't find his recording of this song, or any recording, though it says at the bottom of the sheet music: "Phonograph records will be issued shortly." So here is my rendition from yesterday. If the fiddle sounds strange it's because I sang the song in six flats and then realized that was not a wonderful key for the violin.

The show was written by (Hershl) Harry Kamanowitz. From the Museum of Family History:
Harry Kalmanowitz was born around 1886 in Dubrov, Polish Lithuania. His father traded in grains, but not being able to earn a living, he went off to America "searching for luck." After working four years in a shop, he returned home but that didn't work out, so he went back to America, then back to Dubrov. The third time, in 1900, he brought his son Hershel (Harry).

Harry sold newspapers and in the evening "peddled candy." Later he sewed knee-pants. He begged his father for fifteen cents every Friday, so he could visit the Yiddish vaudeville. When he was 17 he wrote a sketch for Aaron Mogenbesser, a vaudeville star, but due to a strike it was never performed. Harry wrote in his autobiography:

"In the shop I was caught in the powerful hand that oppressed me for sixteen years; thus I had the opportunity to study my brother-workers with all of their sufferings and freedoms. I have seen him laugh when his soul has wailed, I know him with all his strengths and defects, and have a deep love for him. Almost all of my children (comedies and dramas) are from worker's lives.

Lyrics and translation after the jump.

Yeder eyner straykt atsind

Nishto haynt mer keyn paykers. Haynt zenen ale straykers!
Di shnayders un di shusters un di bekers strayken itst.
Di kars, di eleveters, di ekters in theaters,
Di konduktors in di sobveys un der oylem untershtitst.

Ir kumt arayn in restorant farhungert zeyer mat.
A steyk mit frayt petitis ordert ir baym veyter shnel.
Baym ershtn bis derzet ir fis fun a voking deligat.
Er zogt eyn vort un ale veyters strayken af der shtel.

Der veyter makht keyn shtik, nemt tsu dem steyk tsurik.

Yeder eyner shrayt atsind lebn zol di zise tsayt.
Yeder eyner zogt atsind lebn zoln di union layt.
Oy, briderlekh s'iz git! Marshirt, hot keyn moyre nit!
Vanderbiltn shteyt aroys a fayg, a fayg.
Hurray far Karl Marks. Di bosses zenen in der baks
Di union layt gevinen yedn strayk, yedn strayk!

These days there are no more shirkers. Everyone is a striker.
The tailors, the shoemakers, and the bakers are striking now.
The streetcars, the elevators, the actors in theaters,
The subway conductors ... and people support them.

You come into a restaurant hungry and tired,
You quickly order a steak with potatoes from the waiter.
As you take the first bite you see the feet of a walking delegate.
He says one word and all the waiters strike right away.

The waiter doesn't fool around, he takes your steak away.

Everyone is striking now, long live the sweet time.
Everyone is striking now, long live the union members.
Oh, brothers, it's good! March, don't be afraid!
Give Vanderbilt the finger.
Hurray for Karl Marx! The bosses are cornered.
The union members win every strike!

For sheet music and/or performances contact me:

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Blogger Jo Alex SG said...

Although I´m not into Marxism at all, this is such a precious and historical piece of Yiddish secular culture! Danke sheyn for sharing it with so much interesting and valuable info on it as well!

April 9, 2018 at 9:08 AM  

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