Researching Yiddish penny songs (tenement song broadsides of theater and variety show songs, 1895-1925)
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Friday, May 17, 2019

Mendl - Louis Gilrod parody of "Mandy Won't You Let Me Be Your Beau" - Yiddish ragtime hit of 1902

Another song from Lider magazin. Mendl is a vaybernik. I got enchanted by one once, but never again! Mendl doesn't fare particularly well in this Yiddish parody.

The original song was written by J. Rosamond Johnson, who with his brother wrote the famous African-American anthem "Lift Every Voice and Sing."

Louis Gilrod went on to be a very prolific and well-known lyricist for the Yiddish theater.

Here's my living room recording:

Transliteration and translation from the Yiddish after the jump.


Mayn landsman Mendl iz a bokher a gants voyler ying
Nor er hot nit lib ayntsuzitsn in shtib
Nokh tsu loyfn fremde meydlekh dos iz im gants gring
Un ven ikh ver af im in kas, zog ikh im un zing:

Mendl, Mendl, zukh nit keyn fremd zokn bendl
Her vos ikh zog dir
Gloybn megstu mir - ikh shver dir
Mendl, Mendl, dayn lebn vet nit vert zayn a rendl
Zukh nit - un krikh nit - zay beser a fayner man

Mendlen hot gekhapt a meydl un hot im ayngeklogt
Vayl er hot ir herts ongefilt mit shmerts
Mendl geyt atsind arum dershlogn un geplogt
Vayl ven er iz aroys af "bail" hot im der "Judge" gezogt:

Mendl nemt un vert a border, vil zikh lebn fayn,
Shikt di misses gor im tsum shvarts yor
"Ir tort zikh," zogt zi, "tsu mir nit tshepn... oyb ir vilt bay mir zayn."
Un der mister patsht im on un roymt a sod im ayn:

My friend Mendl is a fine lad, but he doesn't like to stay home.
It's very easy for him to run after girls
And when I get angry with him I say:

Mendl, don't go chasing those lace stockings
Listen what I'm telling you, you can believe me, I swear!
Mendl, your life won't be worth a plugged nickel
Don't chase them, don't sneak after them - better you should be a good man.

A girl grabbed Mendl and filed a complaint because he caused her heart misery.
Now Mendl goes around dejected and tormented
Because when he got out on bail the judge said:

Mendl became a boarder, he wanted to live well,
The landlady told him to go to hell.
"If you want to live here, you're forbidden to touch me," she said
And her husband punched him and whispered this secret:

For sheet music and/or performances contact me:


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