Researching Yiddish penny songs (tenement song broadsides of theater and variety show songs, 1895-1925)
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Monday, April 1, 2019

Mayn skhoyre: Yiddish theater song about the efficacy of advertising

This song was written by Louis Kopelman to the tune of "My Gal is a High Born Lady," and it was sung by Bessie Thomashefsky. The tune has a cakewalk / ragtime feel to it.

Thanks to Ken Bloom (guitar) and Jim Baird (bass) for playing on it! Here's our rendition from a couple days ago:


This is yet another song teaching new immigrants about an essential part of New York: signage for flogging your product. Kopelman wisely points out that advertising can get idiots to buy all sorts of rubbish.

In the second verse we meet up with a butcher who is, as usual, crooked. Butchers were always under suspicion: were they selling treyf beef as kosher and pocketing the premium the pious paid for that precious hekhsher?

Notice in the third verse that matchmakers refered to their bachelors and single ladies as "wares." For more on matchmakers in New York at the turn of the century see GimpelBeynish.com - I translated seven books of a daily comic strip about the travails of Gimpel Beynish der shadkhn.

Transliteration and translation from the Yiddish after the jump.


Mayn skhoyre

A yeder in New York lebt fun batrign
Keyn untersheyd dem nar oder dem klign
A yeder trayt tsu advertayzn
Er vil aykh zikher nor bavayzn
Az bay im iz ales far halb gelt

Un di naronim zet men gerne loyfn
Zey ayln zikh metsies koyfn
Vayl zey hobn gezen a sign
Vos iz gedrukt gants fine
Un mit groyse verter geshtelt:

Mayn skhoyre az ir vet nor nemen
Vet ir zikh nit darfn shemen
Ir vet es megn yedn vayzn
Azelkhe skhoyre far azelkhe prayzn
Nemt nor tsu dos gantse shtik
Un yeder vet aykh vintshn glik
Den azelkhe metsies krigt ir nor
Eyn mol in toyznt yor

A meshumed vos farkoyft do boser kosher
Shraybt zikh af der vindow "tam veyosher"
Er shraybt az yedns fleysh iz shlekhte
Fun shokhtim nit keyn rekhte
Keyn yid tor tsu zey nit arayn!
"Ver es vil nor kosher fleysh koyfn,
Zol er nor tsu mir loyfn!"
Ir koyft far veynik gelt
Di oder yene velt
Lezt nor gut mayn sign!

A shadkhn vos er lebt nor fun shidukhim
Hot mit yedn eynem nor vikukhim
Er shrayt dem gantsn tog on shir
Di beste skhoyre iz nor bay mir
Ober keyner kumt tsu im nit arayn
Do falt er plutsim af a voyle plan,
Un iz tsu a peynter arayn.
Un bald af der shtel iz nebn zayn shvel
Geshtanen a groyser sign:

My Wares

Everyone in New York lives by deceiving
There's no difference between the foolish and the clever.
Each tries to advertise, he surely wants to show you
That everything he has is 50% off.

And you see the fools running with pleasure,
Hurrying to buy bargains.
Because they saw a sign, printed very nicely,
And in big letters it said:

My wares, if you'll just take them,
You won't be sorry
You can show everybody, such wares at such a price!
Just take it all and everybody will wish you happiness.
Bargains like these you see only once in a thousand years!

A scoundrel, an apostate, who sells kosher meat here
Writes on his window: "Properly Pure!"
He writes: the other guy's meat is terrible,
Nothing accepteable comes from crooked butchers,
No Jew should go into their shops.
"Whoever wants to buy exclusively kosher meat
Should come running only to my shop!."
He sells for very little money,
This world or the next.
"Just read my sign carefully!"

A matchmaker, whose entire livelihood is his fees,
Had arguments with everybody.
He shouts all day long:
"You get the best wares only from me."
But nobody comes to him.
Suddenly he comes up with a great plan
And goes to a painter.
And soon near the entrance to his stall
A big sign is standing:

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

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