Researching Yiddish penny songs (tenement song broadsides of theater and variety show songs, 1895-1925)
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Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Muf, muf, muf! Yiddish ragtime from 1900

This parody by Louis Gilrod (left) was found in one of the issues of Lider magazin (held at YIVO). The composer of the melody was the very prolific Leo Friedman. His biggest hit was "Let Me Call You Sweetheart." Judy Garland sang his "Meet Me Tonight In Dreamland" in her film The Good Old Summertime.

The original song was published by Sol Bloom in Chicago, at the corner of Randolph & Dearborn Streets

The Yiddish coupletists were very fond of ragtime tunes like this one.

Pianist Aviva Enoch came over and recorded three piano parts the other day. This is the second. Thanks Aviva! Here's our living room recording.


Transliteration and translation from the Yiddish after the jump.



Vos zogt ir tsu mayne tsores, ikh bin dokh vi farvirt,
Mir dakht az af mayn shtern iz shlimazl oysgravirt.
Ikh hob keyn glik in lieb, azoy zogt di gantse velt.
Ikh ken nit krign keyn khosn vos zol mir nemen nor on gelt.
Ikh hob gezukht khasonim un gefunen a khosn mit glik
Vos hot gezogt, er libt mikh nor far mayn zisn blik.
Ikh hob ober nit farshtanen az er hot a meyn derbay
Ven er hot mayn "jewelry" gevolt farpawnen, hob ikh gezogt im fray:

Muf, muf, muf -- guter bruder, zog gud bay.
Muf, muf muf -- dank Got men lozt dikh fray.
Du kenst mikh mer nit blofn, ikh veys fun alef biz tof
Mir zaynen beyde oys mekhutonim - muf, muf, muf!

Mayn frayndin iz farheyrat un hot ir man shtark lib
Nor er iz a veynik fardiner, muz zi haltn border in shtib,
Fun a border iz veynik nakhes, dos iz yedn gut bakant
Es treft zikh zeyer zeltn ven a border batsolt zayn rent.
Nit batsolt hot shoyn ir border keyn rent, monatn dray,
Un dertsu iz er a sheygets un a blofer oykh derbay.
Mayn frayndin iz nit keyn grine, hot faynt gebloft tsu zayn,
Zi hot af zayn tsimer ufgeshlogn a sheyn gedrukte sign:

Muf, muf, muf -- guter bruder, zog gud bay.
Muf, muf muf -- dank Got men lozt dikh fray.
A border muz batsoln, ven nit, shlogt er afn ruf.
Nem dayne zakhn, Mr Border, un muf, muf, muf!

A groyser nayer kinstler fun Yurop extra importirt,
Anonsn hob ikh gelezn un zikh shtark farinteresirt.
Ikh hob shoyn koym derlebt di shtunde un bin in theater avek
Dos teater var tsum ershtikn, gepakt ful nor a shrek.
Di oshers shrayen "Order! Shtil zol zayn, a sof!"
Got hot shoyn geholfn un der komiker tret of.
Er blaybt shteyn vi dershrokn, farshvunden iz zayn zheniye,
Men hert bald fayfn, lakhn - un a geshrey fun der galeriye.

Muf, muf, muf -- guter bruder, zog gud bay.
Muf, muf muf -- dank Got men lozt dikh fray.
Host shoyn genug gezogt, du kinstler, groyser komiker buf
Zey oys di tsayt, du purtsiye, un muf, muf, muf!

What do you say to my troubles? I'm so bewildered.
It seems "unlucky shmo" is engraved on my forehead.
I have no luck in love, that's what the whole world says.
I can't get a bridegroom for love or money.
I looked for a bridegroom and luckily found one
That said he loved me just for my sweet expression.
But I didn't understand he had a different idea.
When he wanted to pawn my jewelry I told him freely:

Move, move, move - good brother, say goodbye.
Move, move, move - thank God they aren't locking you up.
You can't bluff me any more, I know what's what.
We have no connection any more - move, move, move!

My friend is married and really loves her husband,
But he doesn't earn much, so she has to take in a boarder.
Everybody knows you don't get much satisfaction from a boarder,
It happens very rarely that a boarder pays his rent.
Her boarder had already stiffed her for the rent for three months,
And in addition, he was a rascal and a bluffer.
My friend isn't naive, she hates being bluffed,
On his door she nailed up a nicely printed sign:

Move, move, move - good brother, say goodbye.
Move, move, move - thank God they aren't locking you up.
A boarder must pay - if not he can knock around on the roof.
Take your things, Mr Boarder, and move, move, move.

A great new artist from Europe was specially imported,
I read the ads and was very interested.
I could hardly wait for the appointed hour! I was off to the theater.
The theater was choked, packed full, terrible!
The ushers shouted "Order! Quiet! Time to start!"
God helped us, the comic came out.
He stood there frozen, terrified. His genius disappeared.
Then you heard whistling, laughing, and a shout from the gallery:

Move, move, move - good brother, say goodbye.
Move, move, move - thank God they aren't locking you up.
You said enough already, you artist, you big comic buffoon,
Sneak away, you waste of space, move, move, move!




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

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