Researching Yiddish penny songs (tenement song broadsides of theater and variety show songs, 1895-1925)
Index of songs on this site
Link to comprehensive index and research notes
Youtube: all the Penny Songs I've recorded so far (with subtitles)

About this project ♦ ♦ About Jane Peppler
List of the still-lost songs: do you know any of them?
Search the blog:

Monday, August 26, 2019

Rayst arop di shleser (Tear down the locks) - Yiddish Labor movement song of 1904

I love this workers' song, it's a valuable addition to the canon of labor movement songs.
We recorded it for our Yiddish Ragtime cd. Here's the top of the song as printed in Lider magazin:



Here's our youtube video with the lyrics:




The song referenced, "All Aboard for Broadway," was hard to find. I had to search a long time. Finally, somebody on the Vaudeville Facebook group dug up a pixelated scan of a faded old copy of the music. I stupidly retyped the whole thing into Sibelius before checking to see if it was the right song. Nope. Next time, check first.

I couldn't shoehorn Louis Gilroad's Yiddish lyric into "All Aboard for Broadway" - when this happens I take the glass slipper in hand and go searching around to find which  foot is a fit.

I'd noticed the composer George M. Cohan wrote about 15 songs with the word "Broadway" in the title and I was ready to try them all. "Might as well start with the most famous one," I thought, and bingo, it fit, the search was over.

Lots of people know the chorus of "Give My Regards To Broadway" but the verse is unfamiliar.

Randy Kloko pointed out to me that shleser means castles as well as locks, so this song can also be translated as "Tear Down the Castles." Images of locks and castles appear throughout the song.

Transliterated Yiddish and translation after the jump.




Rayst arop di shleser

Arbeter fun ale lender, fareynikt aykh ale baynand!
Shoyn tsayt tsu dervakhn, an ende tsu makhn
fun shklaferay in yedn land.
Oytsres mit raykhe palatsn mit di tayerste shpayzn un vayn.
Alts vos iz beser, farshlist men di shleser
un undz lozt men ahin nit arayn.

Okh, rayst arop di shleser, arbeter, nemt vos aykh kimt
Di oytsres hot ir bashafn, di palatsn zind far aykh bashtimt
Tseshmetert di pyavkes vos zoygn un plogn aykh fun eybik on. 
Rayst arop di shleser un tsit oyf di royte fon.

Ven der tate krigt nit keyn arbet
un di mame iz krank un farshmakht
Un di kinder kleyne zey klogn un veynen
nokh a shtikl broyt tog un nakht
Ven di bank iz gepakt mit milyonen,
mit diamonds geshtopt iberal,
Un far der arbeter klase iz farshlosn di kase,
A shlos vos heyst kapital

Okh, rayst arop di shleser, arbeter, nemt vos aykh kimt
Di oytsres hot ir bashafn, di palatsn zind far aykh bashtimt
Tseshmetert di pyavkes
vos zoygn un plogn aykh fun eybik on
Oy! Rayst arop di shleser un tsit oyf di royte fon.

Di raykhe zey roybn milyonen un geyn arum fray un fayn
Un der oreman oys noyt ven er ganvet a broyt,
shlist men im in prison arayn
Der boss fort zikh zumer in country
amuzirt zikh un lebt zikh a prakht
Un der arbeter muz zitsn, mit blut muz er shvitsn
farshlosn in shop tog un nakht.

Tear Down the Locks

Workers from all lands, all together, unite!
It's time already to wake up and make an end
to slavery in every land.
Treasures and rich palaces, with the richest food and wine.
And what's better, the door is locked
and they don't let us in.

Tear down the locks, worker, take what's owed you.
You created the treasures, the palaces are for you.
Smash the leeches who've always tormented and sucked at you.
Tear down the locks and raise up the red flag.

When the father has no work
and the mother is sick and fainting,
When day and night the little children lament and cry
for a bit of bread,
When the bank is packed with millions,
stuffed with diamonds everywhere
And the cashbox is locked against the working class
with a lock called "capital."


The rich rob millions and go around free and comfortable.
And the poor man, when from desperation
he steals a bit of bread, they lock him in prison.
The boss travels to the country in the summer,
he amuses himself and lives it up.
And the worker must sit and sweat blood,
locked in the shop day and night.


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

Labels: , , , ,

0 Comments:

Post a Comment

<< Home