Researching Yiddish penny songs (tenement song broadsides of theater and variety show songs, 1895-1925)
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Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Yidishe fish: A slightly risque parody of "The Yiddisha Rag," 1909

Written by Louis Gilrod in 1909, this song is ostensibly about the superiority of Yiddish fish. Michael Alpert, however, pointed out that in his dialect the words for "fish" and "legs" are homonyms; if you mentally substitute the latter into the story, things heat up a bit.

His theory is strengthened by the third verse, which I didn't sing because I can't do dialects, and it's a slam dunk when you look at the cover of the American sheet music. Fis!

Yiddish Ragtime - Here's a video using our track from the new Yiddish Ragtime cd available at Skylark Productions.

Transliteration and lyrics after the jump.

Yidishe fish

Hot ir amol farzukht a shtikele yidishe fish? S'iz a maykhl!
Gebrakht hot dos di greste pritsim tsum yidishn tish,
s'tsegeyt in baykhl.
Farzukht ir es eyn mol, un nit minhastam
Dan vet ir shoyn keynmol fargesn dem tam
Fun di yidishe fish, oy, di yidishe fish!
A goy, vi lang zukht er, er veyst es nit, loy!
Nor a yidishe tokhter, zi veyst vi-azoy.
A vayb a getraye zayn, un ir man mekhaye zayn
mit a shtikele yidishe fish.

Oy, yidishe, yidishe fish!
Fraytik-tsu-nakht baym tish felt es nit.
A gut bisl bronfn makht varem un git.
Dos vayb derlangt dem tsimes, der man zogt lekha dodi,
Dernokh leygt men zikh shlofn, oy, oy!
In shtub hersht der sholem dan, zey filn in kholem dan
Dem tam fun di yidishe fish.

A mayse fun a yidish vayb mit a yenkee a krist, hert in order:
Vi er hot zikh in ir farlibt un er hot gemuzt vern ir border.
Nit far ir reynkayt, s'iz nit keyn shpas.
Nit far ir sheynkeyt - kholile vekhas!
Nor far di fish, oy, di yidishe fish!

Di libe volt keynmol geflakert zo frish,
Ven er volt nit eynmol farzukht ire fish.
Zi hot im potshapet bald
un er hot zikh farbliopet bald
In ire tayere yidishe fish.

Oy, yidishe yidishe fish!
Dem man git zi di beyndlekh ven er zetst zikh tsum tish.
Ven der man geyt avek git zi dem yenki di fish.
Er frest af beyde bakn, zi kvelt azh on fun simkhe,
Oy, hobn zey a piknik! Oy, oy!
Ven der man iz in shtub nito, zingt er yenki-dudl-du,
Un loybt ire yidishe fish.

Jewish Fish

Have you ever tasted a bit of Jewish fish? It's a delicacy.
It brought the greatest noblemen to the Jewish table. It melts in your mouth.
Seek it once, and for sure you'll never forget the taste of Jewish fish.
A goy, no matter how long he seeks it, he doesn't understand it, no way.
But a Jewish woman, she knows how.
A faithful wife delights her husband with a piece of Jewish fish.

Jewish fish! Friday evening it's not lacking on the table.
Plenty of booze = warm and good.
The wife prepares the tsimmes, the man says lekha dodi,
Afterwards, they lie down to "sleep," oy oy!
Then peace reigns in the house, then they feel peacefully
The flavor of the Jewish fish.

Listen to this story of a Jewish wife with a Yankee Christian:
How he fell in love with her and had to be her boarder.
Not for her purity, no joke. Not for her beauty - no way!
It was for her fish, the Jewish fish!

His love wouldn't have blazed so fresh,
If he hadn't once tasted her fish.
She took him by surprise, and he fell in love
With her precious Jewish fish.

Oy, Jewish fish!
She gives the bones to her husband when he sits down at the table
When her husband goes out, she gives the Yankee the fish
He stuffs his cheeks with it, she's just delighted,
Oy, do they have a picnic!
When the husband isn't home, the guy sings Yankee Doodle Doo
And praises her Jewish fish.

For sheet music and/or performances contact me:


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