Researching Yiddish penny songs (tenement song broadsides of theater and variety show songs, 1895-1925)
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Friday, August 21, 2020

Khonine (Yiddish parody of the 1904 ragtime song "Alexander")

Isidore Lillien wrote this parody, probably for a show in which a female actor/singer is trying to get her boyfriend to marry her so she can retire from the stage.

I enjoyed making videos for Trip to Yiddishland so much I decided to try a live one this morning. My technical skills were rusty so it was quite time-consuming! I was listening to Glenn Mehrbach's keyboard track through the headphones. Here is the result:

Translation and Yiddish lyrics in transliteration after the jump. 


Khonine iz mayn khosn, er iz mayn basherter
Er iz nit keyn loyfer, vayl vos ikh zog hert er.
Er libt mikh zeyer un ikh hob im oykh nit faynt
Er arbet af shtik un ken a sakh fardinen
Vifil er fardint brengt er bald tsu zayn Linen
Oyb ikh hob a sakh faynde, dan iz er mayn fraynd
Eyn zakh ober makht mikh filn zeyer shlekht
Khotsh ikh veyn un bet im gantse teg un nekht
Kum shtel shoyn a khipe vi es past far layt
Un ikh shray ven er zogt s'iz nokh tsayt

Vilst du az a yeder zol dikh zayn mekane
Khonine, oy Khonine
Shtel mit mir a khipe, loz mikh vern dayne
Dayn Line, oy dayn Line
Gloyb mir s'iz mir nimes shoyn tsu zayn a meydl
Ikh shray "Gevald, ikh vil a khipe kleydl!"
Oy Khonine ziser, ze dayn Line bet zikh bay dir

Ikh ken nit opleykenen az mayn Khonine
Iz der shenster boy in der gantser medine
Vayl az nit volt ikh zikh in im nit farlibt
Ikh ken oykh nit zogn az er iz a shlekhter
Ikh zol im oyslakhn, iz gor a gelekhter
Khotsh ikh veys er libt mikh, dokh fil ikh mikh batribt
Red ikh mit an ander boy, vert er in kas
Bald nemt er zikh shlogn mit dem boy in gas
Broyges blaybt er mit mir af a gantser tog
Ven er bet mikh, dan shray ikh un zog:

Entfer vos ikh vel dikh fregn, zog Khonine
Vi lang nokh zol ikh do shpiln af der bine
Denkst du nit az dos iz shoyn genug geshpilt
Vi lang nokh zol ikh zikh do meshuge makhn 
Lozn ale mentshn zoln fun mir lakhn
Gloyb mir, fun di petsh di bravos ver ikh tsedult
Du zitst do un shmeykhelst un es art dikh nit
Her nor mayne letste erter, her nor git
Nemen vel ikh mir an ander boy onshtot
Nu kum zhe shnel un zog dem harey at

Khonine is my fiance, my destined one.
He's no loafer! He listens to what I say.
He loves me a lot and I also don't hate him.
He does piece work and earns a lot.
Whatever he earns, he brings straight to his Lina.
If I have a lot of enemies, he is my friend.
One thing, though, makes me feel really bad.
Though I cry and beg him all day and all night
"Come, let's put up the marriage canopy like 
respectable people."
When he says "there's still time!" I shout:

Would you like everyone to be jealous of you, 
Stand under the canopy with me, let me become yours, 
your Lina.
Believe me, I'm tired of being a maiden.
I shout "Gevald, I want a wedding dress!"
Oy, sweet Khonine, see how your Lina is begging you.

I can't deny it: my Khonine is the prettiest boy in 
the whole country. Because if he weren't, I wouldn't 
be in love with him.
I also can't say he's a bad guy.
I can make fun of him, it's ridiculous.
Though I know he loves me, I feel sad.
When I talk to another boy he gets angry,
Soon he's hitting the other boy in the street.
He stays angry with me for a whole day.
When he entreats me, I say:

Answer me, tell me, Khonine,
How much longer should I have to act on the stage?
Don't you think it's been long enough?
How much longer will I make myself crazy here
letting everyone laugh at me?
Believe me, I'm getting dazed with the applause and 
calls of "bravo!"
You sit here and smile and it doesn't worry you.
Hear my final words, listen up:
I'm going to take up with another guy instead.
Come on, quickly, say the wedding vows.

For the famous misogynist Jerry Lewis, who supposedly said:
"Every man's dream is to be able to sink into the arms of a woman without also falling into her hands."

For sheet music and/or performances contact me: