Researching Yiddish penny songs (tenement song broadsides of theater and variety show songs, 1895-1925)
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Monday, July 13, 2020

Rum tu let (Room To Let) - Yiddish vaudeville song of 1899

Room To Let
by Isidor Lillien
Melody Rouse Mit Him

Songs mocking people from various countries and ethnic groups were very popular around the turn of the 20th century.

The original song mocks German-Americans. The title means "take him out, remove him." It was written by Harry Von Tilzer, which sounds like a German name but is actually the alias of Arie Gumbinsky, a Jew who successfully whitewashed himself.

Isidore Lillian's Yiddish parody is named Room To Let (transcribed into the Yiddish alphabet) after the signs that were all over the city: many apartment dwellers were desperate to take in boarders to help with the rent.

Strangely, there is another song called Room To Let on this blog, but in that case, it was the English title, and the Yiddish title was 23 Skidoo.

This alternate cover for Rauss Mit Ihm is strangely advertising it as a "rollicking Irish song." Was Irish generic for "ethnic"?

The beer hall pictured is Katzenheimer's, that's not an Irish name. Maybe the singer, Maud Huth, specialized in Irish songs.

Here's my living room rendition:

Transliteration of the two verses I sang and translation of the Yiddish after the jump.

Rum tu let

A yakres af di borders iz gevorn di letste tsayt
Mir zaynen shtark baleydikt haynt a yeder border shrayt
Mir tsoln far keyn esn hot men undz a shem gemakht
Derfar zaynen di borders ale beyz un ufgebrakht
Zey viln mer keyn borders zayn, zey heyratn geshvind.
Geblibn on a border iz a yede misses atsind.
Nor ikh ken a sheyn vaybl vos flegt haltn borders fir.
Yetst vayl zi hot keyn borders hengt a sayn af ir tir:

Rum tu let, farlangt a yungn man.
Rum tu let, a border in shtub arayn.
Er krigt heyse un kalte vanes mit a gants fayn ufshtel bet
Far brekfest frish gelegte eyer! Rum tu let.
Rum tu let, er ken bay mir esn fish.
Rum tu let, ikh zhaleve nit keyn kish.
Er darf gornit zayn keyn griner. Mit mayn man bin ikh geget.
Er ken oykh in mayn front rum shlofn. Rum tu let.

Mayn lands-froy, eyn almone, zi hot tekhter on a shir,
Groyse kleyne grobe dare fun yeder kolir.
Shtendik flegt zi shrayen az ir iz keyn glik bashert,
Zey viln gor nit arbetn un fresn vi di ferd.
"Gib mir epes an eytse!" hot zi zikh far mir baklogt.
Vos zi zol mit di tekhter tuen. Hob ikh ir bald gezogt:
"Mayn plan er iz a guter un ir vet tsufridn zayn -
Hengt aroys in droysn af der tir aza sayn..."

Rum tu let, farlangt gor yunge boyes.
Rum tu let, khapt zey gikher oys.
Yeder ken zikh do oysveyln zayn geshmak, dar oder fet.
Shvartse, gele, grine, royte. Rum tu let!
Rum tu let, ale der zelber sayz.
Rum tu let, ale der zelber prayz.
Ver es vil koyfn a bargen der zol koyfn dem gantsn set.
Ale tsuzamen farkoyf ikh holseyl! Rum tu let.

Room To Let

There's a shortage of boarders these days
"We're very offended now," every boarder shouts,
"People say we won't pay for food."
So the boarders are all angry and furious.
They don't want to be boarders now, they marry quickly.
Now every landlady lacks a boarder.
I know a pretty wife who used to have four boarders.
Now, because she has none, a sign hangs on her door:

Room to let, seeking a young man
Room to let, a boarder in the house
He'll get hot and cold water in the bathtub, with a fine Murphy bed
For breakfast, freshly laid egges! Room to let.
Room to let, at my place he'll eat fish.
Room to let, I won't be stingy with kisses.
He shouldn't be a greenhorn. I'm divorced from my husband.
He can sleep in my front room. Room to let!

A widow from my hometown has lots of daughters,
Big, small, fat, thin, of every complexion.
She always used to shout that she has no luck,
They absolutely won't work and they eat like horses.
"Give me some advice," she complained to me,
"What should I do with the daughters?" I quickly answered:
"My plan's a good one and it'll make you happy.
Hang this sign outside your door..."

Room to let, seeking only young boys,
Room to let, seize the opportunity quickly!
Each can select according to his taste: thin or fat,
Dark, redhead, green, red. Room to let!
Room to let, all the same size.
Room to let, all the same price.
Whoever wants a bargain should buy the whole set.
I'll sell all of them together wholesale. Room to let!

For sheet music and/or performances contact me:


Blogger Shaban said...

Ah, yiddish! My favorite language!

July 20, 2020 at 7:37 AM  

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