Researching Yiddish penny songs (tenement song broadsides of theater and variety show songs, 1895-1925)
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Saturday, February 15, 2020

Libe iz dos beste vort (Love Is The Best Word) sung by the dreamy William Schwarz in 1922

The manuscript is online at the Library of Congress website. The song was composed in 1922 by Louis Friedsell and was recorded by the handsome and golden-voiced tenor William Schwartz in 1922. I hope he was a superstar, he'd have deserved it!

This song shows how lyrics were getting simplified as time went by. Songs of the turn of the century were very wordy, they had lots of words in every line and lots of lines in every verse and lots of verses before the song finally ended. I wonder whether the need to get the whole thing over with in less than three minutes, which was a requirement of the recording industry of the time, led composers to compress their sentiments into more manageable lengths.

Of course, when a song is short and simple it often doesn't say much at all, and that is certainly the case here. William sang, no doubt to some lovely soubrette, the following:

My heart is heavy, I have a hankering for something. It goes up and down, from the heart to the head. Soon I feel I'm crying, soon, I want to be happy. And in dreams and sleep it doesn't leave me alone. So then, it must be love, just love

Love, love is the best word. Here in my heart it belongs forever. Love delights everyone and also brings happiness, and love brings suffering there, too.

Here he is:

I put the sheet music manuscript on the video so you can enjoy the (transcribed) Yiddish of the time.

For sheet music and/or performances contact me:


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