Researching Yiddish penny songs (tenement song broadsides of theater and variety show songs, 1895-1925)
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Thursday, August 22, 2019

Bizi bay cloaks: Yiddish vaudeville parody of "Down on the Brandywine" - fun in the garment business

We recorded "Bizi bay cloaks" on our Yiddish Ragtime cd.

Here's our recording with Randy Kloko on vocals and Glenn Mehrbach on keyboard:

The original American song was "Down On The Brandywine," written by Vincent Bryan and J. B. Mullen, published in 1904. Collins and Harlan did a lovely job in their recording of the same year, found on Youtube.

Louis Gilrod wrote his contrafactum playing on various meanings of the preposition "bay" - from a sweatshop full of people making coats in July to a pickpocket at the opera to a boarder working "overtime" at home with the landlady while her husband is at the shop.

Notice that "cloaks" rhymes with "ox" and "blocks" -

Yiddish lyrics in transliteration and translation after the jump.

Bizi bay cloaks

Amerike iz gor farkert, zog ikh aykh,
Yeder arbet do vi an oks.
Vinter'z bizi bay silk veysts a sakh
Zumer iz bizi bay cloaks.
Ven di zun geyt aroys fun ir futer-fas
Un in shop iz shtikik un heys,
Der forman rayst fun di meydn a pas
Un fun zey nebekh gist zikh der shveys.

S'iz bizi bay cloaks, bizi bay cloaks
Di finisherins shvitsn fun di hitsn, un di opreytors zogn vitsn
Bizi bay cloaks! Bizi bay cloaks!
Me khapt a glik, me raybt fun shtik, bizi bay cloaks.

S'iz a pleasure tsu zen in a vinter-nakht
In di greste bizi bloks,
Vi di raykhe leydis zen oys a prakht,
Oysgeputst in tayere cloaks.
Men geyt in der opera tsu hern gezang
Mit gelt in di pokets gants fayn
Un punkt ven es vert a gedrang,
Krikht eyner in di poket arayn.

Der iz bizi bay cloaks, bizi bay cloaks
Er shrekt far gornit, far mener shur nit,
Un tsu di vayber krikht er dort vu men tor nit
Bizi bay cloaks, bizi bay cloaks,
Er shtupt di finger, shlept di klinger, bizi bay cloaks.

Der cloaks opereytor Mr Khayem Blik
Hot a vaybele sheyn vi di velt.
A border hot er a yung an antik,
Vos tsolt keyn mol nit keyn gelt.
Ven oftmol shpet in shop blaybt Khaym oystsufinishen a job,
In der tsayt ven er arbet overtaym
Iz in der heym gor bay zayn vayb,

Bizi bay cloaks, bizi bay cloaks.
In shop makht Khayem a cloak a nayem,
In der heym makht der border overtaym…
Bizi bay cloaks, bizi bay cloaks
A tate vert Khaym fun a zun a nayem.
Bizi bay cloaks.

Busy By Cloaks

America's got it upside down, I tell you.
Everybody works like an ox here.
Winter is the busy time for lots of silk shirtwaists,
Summer's busy for coats.
When the sun comes out of her covering
And it's stifling and hot in the shop,
The foreman gets after the girls
And the sweat pours off them.

It's busy season for coats.
The finishing girls sweat from the heat
And the sewing machine operators tell jokes.
It's busy season for coats.
You try to grab a little fun,
The heat makes you itchy, it's busy by cloaks.

On a winter night it's a pleasure to see,
In the best busy blocks,
How the rich ladies look so pretty
Dressed up in their coats.
You go to the opera to hear singing,
With money in the pockets, very fine,
And when there is a bit of jostling in the crowd,
Somebody creeps into your pocket.

He's busy with the coats.
He fears nothing, surely not husbands,
And he creeps toward the women just where he shouldn't.
Busy with coats - he pushes in his finger
And drags out coins, he's busy with cloaks.

The coat maker Mr Chaim Blik
Has a very beautiful wife.
He has a young border, quite a fellow,
Who never pays any rent.
Often when Chaim stays late at the shop
Finishing a job
While he's working overtime,
At home his wife is...

Busy with coats.
In the shop Chaim makes a new coat.
At home the border is working overtime.
Busy with coats. Chaim becomes father of a new son.

For sheet music and/or performances contact me:

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