Researching Yiddish penny songs (tenement song broadsides of theater and variety show songs, 1895-1925)
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Saturday, October 10, 2020

Gute brider, a Solomon Smulewitz parody of "My Ann Elizer The Ragtime Girl" by Malcolm Williams, 1898

Good brothers
To sing with the melody from the English song
My Ann Elizer
by Solomon Smulewitz

Originally I filed this song in the "duds" directory because the sheet music arrangement was clumsy and incompetent.

In 1898 ragtime songs were the new range and music publishers were trying to help the daughters and mothers in their parlors understand how to play it, so there is a second chorus page included with the ragtime rhythms written out, but it is uninspiring.

The American song's first verse goes like this:

My girl ain't much to look at, she ain't no dream.
She can't sing like an angel, Ann Elizer Green,
But when she hears the "rag time "she can't keep still,
Her nerves commence a-jumpin' she gets a chill-well,
Her eyes begin a-shinin', her cheeks get red,
Her feet commence to shuffle, she shakes her head.
And when she starts a-dancin' she's the real thing;
I can't keep still no longer, I got to sing:-Well-

My Ann Elizer, she's a surpriser. a tantalizer, she's in the whirl,
And I'll advertise her, my Ann Elizer, she is my "rag-time" girl.

Eventually I decided to abandon the original arrangement entirely, especially since it takes me ages to be able to play even the simplest little bit of ragtime. Here is my recording from yesterday:

Turning to the Smulewitz text, it's a pretty classic lament of a drunk, gambling womanizer. He blames the situation on those who leeched on him when he had money and complains that now he's in the ditch and they just step over him. A more classic (and beautiful) version of this story is told on my other blog: Dos fleshele

Yiddish lyrics in transliteration and translation after the jump.

Mayne eltern hobn mir gelozt a groysn kapital
Hobn fraynde, gute brider geshotn zikh fun iberal
Gelebt, gehulyet af mayn rekhenung gute teg un nekht
Geshmeykhlt hobn dan mir ale, zey vorn mayne knekht.

Un vi ikh bin nor krank gevorn, farshvunden zaynen zey.
S'vor nor keyner ver zol filn mayn groys shmertz un vey.
Geshikt zey rufn un -- gekumen iz dan keyner nit
Fun azelkhe gite brider zayn zol men oysgehit, oy

Ayer gite brider tsebrekht zey ale glider
Vaykht zey oys vi shlangen zet faryogt zey glaykh.
Git zey mit a shtekn ven zey shmeykhlen, lekn.
Zey tuen dos nor ven ir zayt raykh.

Gite brider hobn mir gelernt vi tsu lebn fayn.
Mit fayne meydlekh un in kortn un oykh trinken vayn
Un dem firung oysgelernt hob ikh nor a prakht
kh'hob gelibt, geshpilt, getrunken take tog un nakht.

Un ven ikh bin tsulib a meydl in gefenkenish arayn
Var nor keyner ver zol filn mayn groys shmerts un payn.
Geshikt nokh retung un gekumen iz dan loynen nit
fun azelkhe gite brider zayn zol men oysgehit, oy,

Kh'hob farshvundet mayn farmegn biz dem letstn sent
Dan hob ikh ersht mayne brider in der noyt derkent.
Vi der ershter zo der letster hot mir oysgelakht
Mankhe hobn mir farzidlt farvorfe gemakht,

Gekumen bin ikh tsu der shtufe gefelt hot mikh af broyt
Vor nor keyner ver zol filn mayn shreklikhe noyt
Gebetn hilfe un gegebn hot mir keyner nit
Fun azelkhe gite brider zayn zol men oysgehit, oy,


My fortune disappeared, down to the last cent.
Then, in adversity, I finally saw who my good brothers were.
From the first to the last, they laughed at me.
Most of them reviled me, reproached me.

My parents left me a lot of money.
Friends, good brothers, poured out from everywhere.
Living, carousing on my dime good days and nights,
Everybody smiled at me then, they were my slaves.
And when I got sick, they disappeared.
There was nobody who'd hear my great heartache and pain.
I sent for them. I called, and nobody came.
Preserve us from such good brothers!

Your good friends, may they break all their limbs.
Avoid them like snakes, drive them away.
Hit them with a stick when they smile and flatter;
they only do it when you're rich.

"Good brothers" taught me how to live well
with fine women and cards, and also to drink wine.
I learned their customs so well!
I loved, gambled, and drank day and night.

And when I was in jail because of a girl
There was nobody to share my great heartache and pain.
I sent for rescue, it wasn't worth it to anybody to come.
From such good brothers may we be protected!

I blew through my capital, to the very last penny.
It was then I first saw what kind of brothers I had.
From the first to the last they laughed at me.
Most of them cursed me, they threw me away.

I got to the point where I didn't even have bread.
There was nobody who sympathized with my desolation.
I asked for help and nobody gave me anything.
From such good brothers shall we be preserved.

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