Researching Yiddish penny songs (tenement song broadsides of theater and variety show songs, 1895-1925)
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Thursday, September 12, 2019

Cheap, Cheap, Cheap! Yiddish parody of the ragtime song "Gone, Gone, Gone"

Here's our recording of Cheap! from the cd Yiddish Ragtime, with Randy Kloko singing, me on fiddle and Glenn Mehrbach on keyboard:

The melody for this parody by Louis Gilrod is taken from "Gone, Gone, Gone," a ragtime song by T. J. Farron, Jr and Joseph M. Hollander. The song was sung by Russell & Locke:

It was about a man who lost his sweetheart, she was gone gone gone. Louis Gilrod turned this to a song about saving money. It mentions venereal disease more explicitly than any other song of the era. Transliteration and translation from the Yiddish after the jump.


A yeder veyst az do in dem land iz biznes zeyer fil faran.
Koym hot ir nor a bisl farshtand
Vert ir zeyer laykht a biznesman.
Hert vos ikh zog aykh oyb ir vilt zayn raykh,
Dan zolt ir mayn eytse folgn glaykh:
Leygt ayer gantsn staak mit tsores in zak
Un shrayt "Tsores cheap! Finf sent a pak!"

Cheap cheap cheap, Cheap cheap cheap
A sakh farkoyfn mit veynik profit -
Dos shadet keyn mol keyn biznesman nit
Ven ir folgt mikh dan vet ir gikh
Vern gants raykh, nokh raykher vi ikh!
Koym hot ir di grippe - dan farkoyft zi cheap,
Cheap cheap cheap

Ikh ken a boy vos er iz zeyer karg,
Fun zibn dolar shpart er akht.
Ikh veys af shur az er hot aza barg
Mit mogn krankheyt nit far aykh gedakht.
Er zogt "A vayb iz a brokh in layb,
Me krigt," zogt er, "cheap a tsayt fartrayb."
Biz got zayn dank - er iz gevorn gut krank,
yetst koyft er in drog stor aza min getrank... ... Vos kost

Cheap cheap cheap, Cheap cheap cheap,
koym bakimt er a kvoder gor in tash -
Loyft er bald koyfn medetsin a flash.
A shtokh in rip, baym herts a tsip,
Hot er di krankheyt bakimen cheap
A royte moyd hot im gemakht dem toyt - Cheap cheap cheap

Ikh aleyn ker nit far gelt, ikh spend a mol a nikl in a tog
Un ven a moyd mir nor gefelt,
Dan spend ikh af ir a klog nokh a klog
Hert mayn brokh, ikh hob yene vokh
Geshtelt a khipe - yetst klog ikh nokh.
Zi frest un zoyft, nokh Kuni Ayland zi loyft,
Ven ikh volt gehat a kostomer volt ikh zi farkoyft

Cheap cheap cheap, Cheap cheap cheap,
zi iz a bargen, hoykh un gezind -
Zi frest vi a groyse un arbet vi a kind
Zayt ikh hob zi veys ikh nit vi
Mayn gelt kumt ahin, oy , a veytik ir knie
Ikh gib aykh di hent, ikh farkoyf zi far tsvelf sent -
Cheap cheap cheap


Everyone knows that in this land there's lots of business. The minute you have a bit of understanding, you very easily become a businessman. Hear what I say: if you want to be rich, follow my advice straight away. Put your whole stock of miseries in a sack and shout: "Misery, cheap! Five sents a pack!"

Cheap, a lot to sell with little profit, that doesn't ever bother any businessman. If you obey me, you'll quickly become very rich, richer than me. The minute you get the grippe, then sell it cheap!

I know a boy who is very stingy, from seven dollars he can save eight. I know for sure he has a terrible bellyache, may it not happen to you. He says: "A wife is a curse in life. You can pass the time with ... ladies ... very cheaply." Until, praise God, he became very sick. Now he goes to the drugstore and buys a sort of drink...

That costs cheap. The minute he has a quarter in his pocket, he runs right off to buy a flask of medicine. A pain in the ribs, a pang in his heart. He got the sickness cheap. A redheaded girl infected him, sent him to the grave. Cheap.

I myself care nothing for money, I sometimes spend a nickel a day. And when a girl pleases me, then I spend on her, one misfortune after another. Hear my misfortune, I recently got married, now I lament again. She eats and quaffs with gusto, she runs off to Coney Island. If I had a customer I'd sell her...

Cheap. She is a bargain, tall and healthy! She gobbles food like a giant and works like a child. Since she became mine, I don't know how, but my money is just flowing away, curse her. I give you my hand: I'll sell her for twelve cents. Cheap, cheap, cheap.

I give you both my hands: I'll sell her for twelve cents.
Cheap, cheap, cheap.

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