Researching Yiddish penny songs (tenement song broadsides of theater and variety show songs, 1895-1925)
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Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Ven ikh ze dikh farbay geyn - 1903 YIddish parody of "Congo Love Song"

I think of this song and the preceding one from the previous year, In a shtiler zumer nakht (Under The Bamboo Tree) as a pair.

Here's our recording of this one from our Yiddish Ragtime album. Again, Randy Kloko is singing and Glenn Mehrbach is playing keyboard.

Like the previous song, this one was commissioned by Marie Cahill for her programs of African-American-flavored popular music (written mostly but as we see here not always by white composers). Like the previous one, Congo Love song was written by Bob Cole and the Anderson Brothers, an African-American composing team.

Like the previous one, this one was parodied by Louis Gilrod. He was a year older now, and my guess is that his infatuation of the year before had fizzled, leaving him bitter. Not surprisingly, his beloved seems to have been an actress, as he accuses her of caring only about having people come to see her shows.

It's another interesting melody and another not-very-Jewish lyric. Transliteration from the Yiddish and translation after the jump.

Ven ikh ze dikh farbay geyn

Imer ven mayn harts fangt on tsu pokhn
Imer ven mayn blut fangt on tsu kokhn
Fil ikh vi etvos hot gebrokhn
Un ikh blayb dan gor in gantsn vi farvirt
Kh'trakht dan vos zol dos den badaytn
Ven ikh derze dikh nor fun vaytn
Kumen gefile fun far tsaytn
Ven ikh hob fun libe fantazirt

Ven ikh ze dikh farbay geyn, dan layd ikh on shir.
Ven ikh ze dikh farbay geyn, tsit mayn herts mikh tsu dir.
Mayn otem vert kurts mir, dervekst altn shmerts mir,
Farvundest mayn harts mir ven du geyst farbay.

Zog mikh oh gib mir tsu derklern
Veystu vos es heyst fargisn trern
Ven hertser gebrokhn muzn vern
A gehenem vert der shenster paradiz
Dokh neyn! Vi kenstu den dos visn
Ven du lebst nor um tsu genisn
Un libst yedn zen tsu dayne piesn?
Vi kenstu mir derklern vos dos iz?

When I See You Pass By

Each time my heart begins to throb
Every time my blood begins to cook
I feel like something was broken
And I remain completely bewildered
I think then, what can this all mean?
When I catch a glimpse of you from afar
Feelings come from the old days
When I fantasized about love.

When I see you pass by, I suffer endlessly
When I see you pass by, my heart is drawn to you
My breath gets short, it awakens old pain
You wound my heart when you pass by

Tell me, oh, let me know,
Do you know what it means to gush tears?
When hearts must be broken
The most beautiful paradise turns into hell.
Well, no! How could you know this
When you just live to enjoy yourself
And you want everybody to see your plays?
How can you tell me what this is?

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