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Sunday, July 26, 2020

Khone (Yiddish parody of Irish-American vaudeville song Barney) - 1903

by Isidor Lillien
To sing with the melody of

As I've hypothesized before, WASP America was sick of its own music by the turn of the 20th century and went nuts for anything exotic or ethnic. Unfortunately, whites could only take in alien cultures by mocking and caricaturing them; African-Americans as well as Irish, German, Jewish and Italian immigrants were portrayed foully and gleefully on stage. That's just how it was.

Before I started working on this song I had to figure out how to pronounce the hero's name. The consensus at the Yiddish research Facebook group was Khone or Khune, and since it rhymed with matonele and rosheshone I went with Khone. However, in the third verse, which I didn't sing, shlof rhymes with roof, so that's the case for singing Khune, matunele, and roshashune. Oh well.

Here's today's living room recording:

I sang two of the three verses. Translation and transliteration from the Yiddish after the jump.


Ikh dermon zikh far a yorn ven ikh gib a blik tsurik
Tsu a piknik dan geforn un gefunen dort mayn glik
Tsvishn ale frayndins mayne oysgeklibn hot er mikh
Gefregt mikh ikh zol vern zayne dan geentfert im hob ikh:

Khone oy oy oy Khone, ayl zikh nit, halt zikh ayn.
Vart nor biz roshhashane dan veln mir farheyrat zayn.
Ikh shver dir bay der levone ikh blayb dayn matonele
Du vest zayn mayn lebns bagleyter
Khotsh du bist a kloaks opreytor
Oy Khone mayn Khonele

Eynmol ven ikh bin gezesn in mayn front rum gants aleyn
Shpet bay nakht shoyn nokhn esn
Kumt mayn Khone arayn tsu geyn
Er hot zikh gezetst dernebn un er nemt mikh fest arim
Oy, hob ikh im dan gegebn un gants beyz gezogt tsu im

Oykh a feler hot mayn Khone: shlufn shluft er afn ruf
Bay dem shayn fun der levone geyt er um in mitn shluf
A doktor flegt zayn krenk bahandlen
Opgekost hot dos im fil
Yetst ven er fangt on tsu vandlen
Dan zog ikh tsu im gants shtil:

I look back, thinking about a picnic last year where I found my happiness.
Among all my girlfriends it was me he chose.
He asked if I'd be his and I answered:

Khone, oy, Khone, don't hurry, restrain yourself!
Just wait until Rosh Hashana,
Then we'll be married.
I swear to you by the moon, I'll be your little present.
You'll be my life's companion though you're a cloak maker
Khone, my little Khone.

Once when I was sitting alone in my front room
Late at night, after dinner,
My Khone came to visit.
He sat next to me and took me in his arms.
Boy, did I give it to him
And I angrily said: (chorus)

My Khone has a fault: he sleeps on the roof
While the moon shines he walks around in his sleep
A doctor used to treat his malady, it cost a lot
Now, when he begins to wander
I say to him quietly:

For sheet music and/or performances contact me:


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