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Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Ven ales iz farbay - Yiddish parody of the 1901 vaudeville song "I'm Goin' To Live Anyhow Till I Die"

Here we see the English title translated into oysyes.


This composer, Shepard N. Edmonds, has a great bio in the book Spreading Rhythm Around. The book calls "I'm Goin to Live Anyhow Till Die" the best of Shep Edmonds' songs, and one of the very few pop songs on the subject of the hypocrisy of do-gooders. Edmonds was a black vaudevillian and entrepreneur born in 1876 in Memphis, Tennessee. He founded the first black publishing firm in 1904 and later opened the first black detective agency. He died in 1957.

We see listed here three white performers and one very famous black vaudevillian (Ernest Hogan, about whom I've written previously) as singers of this song. There is a record on youtube of Harry Talley but more interesting is the recording by Pete Hampton and Laura Bowman HERE.


Pete Hampton was born in Kentucky in 1871. He performed with Vaudeville groups like In Dahomey and the Darktown Entertainers. He made more than 150 recordings in the United Kingdom and Germany between 1903 and 1911 and toured in Hungary, Austria, Switzerland, Russia, and France.


Louis Gilrod was one of the two most prolific writers of Yiddish parodies at the turn of the 20th century.

This song has three verses but I only sang two. Glenn Mehrbach plays keyboard on this living room recording.


Transliteration and translation from the Yiddish after the jump.


Ven ales iz farbay

In a zumer tog a prakht hob ikh kontshaft dan gemakht
Mit a fraylin zo raytsend ir ponim zo naiv un frum
Georemt tsu geyn mit ir a bisl af a shpatsir
Hob ikh gerekhent vet nit zayn zeyer krum
Bald afn tsveytn tog hert ikh bet aykh nor mayn plog
far britsh af promis hot zi mikh ongeklogt
Di polis hot nit lang gevart un bald in jail mikh ayngeshpart
Nit hobndik keyn breyre hob ikh tsu mir gezogt:

Vos nitst yetst redn ven ales iz farbay
Ikh zits farshpart un zi geyt arum frank un fray
Ven ikh hob dos frier gedarft farshteyn
volt ikh dokh in jail yetst nit geveyn
Vos nitsn taynes ven ales iz farbay

Ikh ken a held, a yunger man vos zukht a kale mit nadan
Abi nor gelt, far sheynhayt art im nit, tsi yo, tsi neyn.
Es hot nit filgenumen a kale hot er bakumen
An alte miese moyd, a moyl mit goldene tseyn
Gefreyt zikh hot der held zi hot gezogt zi hot fil gelt
Der tog fun der khupe hot er koym gevart
Un bald nokh der tseremonie derklert im di zi
az zi hot oys libe im biz atsind genart

Vos nitst yetst redn ven ales iz farbay
S'iz nokh a shand, s'iz nok a kreynkunk oykh derbay
Tsi vil er yo tsi vil er neyn
Er blaybt bay der moyd mit di goldene tseyn
Es helft keyn taynes ven ales iz farbay

In a prakhtfuln kafe, ze ikh zitsn dortn tsvey
A farputster frant un a meydele tsimlekh yung un sheyn
Zi zitst nebekh un klogt, zi veynt far im un zogt,
Vos iz mit dir, mayn liber atsind azoyns gesheyn?
Host geshvorn mir azoy, az ikh vel zikher zayn dayn froy,
Un af dem khezhbm hob ikh geopfert ales ... nor far dir ...
Zi veynt un kusht zayn hand, er zol retn zi fun shand,
Der yunger frant tselakht zikh un entfert ir:

Vos nitst yetst redn, ven ales iz farbay,
Vos puelstu mit dayn veynen den derbay,
kh'lebn es iz fun dir nit sheyn,
aza moyd vi du zol nit farshteyn,
Es nitsn keyne taynes ven ales iz farbay

Ikh ken a held a yungn man, vos zukht a kale mit nadan,
Abi nor gelt, far sheynhayt art im nit, tsi yo tsi neyn.
Es hot nit fil genumen, a kale hot er bakumen,
Eyn alte miese moyd, a moyl mit goldene tseyn.
Gefreyt zikh hot der held, zi hot gezogt, zi hot fil gelt
Dem tog fun der khupe hot er koym dervart,
Un bald nokh der tseremonie, erklert im di zi
Az zi hot oys libe im biz atsind genart.

Nu vos nitst yetst redn, ven ales iz farbay
S'iz nokh a shand un nokh a kreynkunk? oykh derbay
Tsi vil er yo, tsi vil er neyn, er blaybt bay der moyd mit di goldene tseyn
Es helft keyn taynes ven ales iz farbay.

When it's all too late

On a pretty summer day I made acquaintance
with a girl so charming, her face so naive and pious,
To walk with her a bit arm in arm,
I figured it wouldn't be a bad idea.
Soon after the second day, listen, I beg you, to my calamity:
She accused me of breach of promise.
The police didn't wait long, they soon put me in jail
Not having any alternative, I said to myself:

What good is talking now, when it's too late
I'm sitting in prison and she's walking around free
I should have understood this earlier
Then I wouldn't be in jail now
What good are complaints when it's all too late

In a pretty cafe I see two people sitting there,
A well-dressed dandy and a maiden ?? young and pretty
She sits, poor thing, and complains, she cries in front of him and says
What's happened with you now, my dear?
You swore to me that I would surely be your wife
And counting on that, I offered you everything, just for you
She cried and kissed his hand, hoping he'd save her from shame
The young dandy laughed and answered:

What good is talking now, when it's too late
What are you accomplishing with your crying?
I swear, it's not a good look for you,
A dame like you should understand
Complaints are useless after the fact

I know a hero, a young man who seeks a wife with a dowry
As long as there's money, he's not worried about whether or not there is beauty
It didn't take long, he got a bride:
An ugly old maid, a mouth full of gold teeth.
The hero rejoiced, she said she had a lot of money!
He could hardly wait for the wedding day.
And soon after the ceremony, she told him
That till now, out of love, she had been deceiving him.

But what good is talking now, when it's too late?
It's a shame and insult as well
Whether he likes it or not, he's stuck with the gal with the gold teeth
Complaining doesn't help when it's all too late.


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

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