Researching Yiddish penny songs (tenement song broadsides of theater and variety show songs, 1895-1925)
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Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Nor eyn meydl in der velt far mir - 1899 Yiddish parody by Joseph Bovshover of "Only One Girl In The World For Me."

Just one girl in the world for me
To sing with the melody from the English song
"Only One Girl in the World for Me"



The original song was composed by Dave Marion and published by Witmark in 1895. Judah Katzenelenbogen copyrighted the Yiddish version in 1899 (or at least that's what he said).



Yoysef Bovshover (Joseph Bovshover) was born in 1873 in Lubavitsh, Mohilev district in Byelorussia. His scholarly father wanted him to become a rabbi, but he instead left for Riga and worked in a grain shop. In 1891 he emigrated to New York and worked as a furrier in a sweatshop and became a noted anarchist-communist ‘sweatshop poet’ and agitator in the labour movement. One of his brothers bought him a grocery store, but he quickly bankrupted it. His brothers gave him a job in their business, but he failed at that also, and then he was a failed German teacher. The Yiddish leksikon comments: "his mind was entirely caught up in writing poetry."

Money worries and "innate egocentrism" drove him into melancholy and he was committed to an asylum where he lived for 15 years until his death in 1915.

Here's my living room recording:


Transliteration and translation from the Yiddish after the jump.


Nor eyn meydl in der velt far mir

A meydl bazitst nor di velt vos iz mir hertslekh lib
Zi iz ales vos mir felt ven mayn herts iz trib
Zi iz di shenste, beste kind, di liblikhste in land,
Un ven zi grist mikh mild un zanft dan denk ikh nokhanand

Dos es git
Eyn zakh nor far mir in der velt
Eyn meydl nor velkhe mir aleyn gefelt
Es felt ir gelt un yikhes, ir tate iz nit keyn gevir
Dokh iz zi di eyntsike moyd far mir

Eyn zakh nor bazitst di velt, un dos iz lust und muth
Es bashaft i glik i gelt, es makht undz fray un gut
Es iz di shenste, libste makht vos lozt undz nye zayn shvakh
Un ven ikh fil mikh opgeshvakht dan zog ikh mit a lakh:

Dos es git
Eyn zakh nor far mir in der velt
Eyn zakh nor velkhe mir gefelt
Ikh darf dertsu keyn yikhes, den s'makht mikh far a gevir
Un dos iz di eyntsike zakh far mir

Eyn zakh nor bazitst di velt vos kumt mir shtark tsunits
Dos iz dos libe libe gelt velkhes ikh bazits
Es iz di glaykhste, beste zakh vos mer men hot, un krigt,
Un ven ikh hob derfun a sakh, dan denk ikh mir fargenigt.

Dos es git
Eyn zakh nor far mir in der velt
Eyn zakh nor velkhe mir gefelt
Ikh darf dertsu keyn yikhes, den s'makht mikh far a gevir
Un dos iz di eyntsike zakh far mir

Only One Girl in the World for Me

The world possesses only one girl who is my dearly beloved
She's all I need when my heart is dreary
She's the prettiest, best girl, the most loveable in the land
And when she greets me, mild and tender, I think once again:

There's just one thing for me in the world
Only one girl who pleases me
She doesn't have money, she's not of high degree
Her father's no rich man
Still she's the only girl for me

The world posseses only one thing, and that's gusto, courage
It creates happiness and money and makes us free and good
It's the prettiest, most beloved strength, it never lets us weaken
And when I feel beaten down, then I say with a laugh:

There's just one thing in the world for me
Just one thing that pleases me
I don't need high degree in addition, it won't make me a wealthy man
And this is the only thing for me

The world has only one thing that comes in very handy:
It's the dear, dear money I have.
It's the best thing to have, to receive,
And when I have a lot, then I'm delighted.

There's just one thing in the world for me
Just one thing that pleases me
I don't need high degree in addition, it won't make me a wealthy man
And this is the only thing for me




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

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