Researching Yiddish penny songs (tenement song broadsides of theater and variety show songs, 1895-1925)
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Tuesday, August 10, 2021

Shabes matinee (Isaac Reingold 1902 Yiddish parody of "On a Sunday Afternoon")

The photo on this sheet music is, incredibly, of a young Buster Keaton wearing a bald wig, with his parents, in their vaudeville act, singing this song! 

 In English we only use "matinee" to refer to a show during the afternoon, but in this song it's also used in the French sense of, simply, afternoon. 

The first verse refers to kugl - a sweet dessert which in all these vaudeville songs stands for sexy goings-on.

 It's a little scandalous that, after having the standard frum beginning to his Sabbath, our hero slips off to the theater. 

 Tsum riml means "into the bargain" and rhymes handily with driml (snooze). For people who work such desperately long hours during the week, getting a nap (with or without canoodling) on Shabbos (in a theater, in a park, or behind a locked door) is a pretty high priority. 

 Here is my living room recording:


Der shabes kumt, es kvelt der yid, zingt zikh zmires sheyn.
Er shlingt di fish mit apetit, mit fefer un mit khreyn
Der kugl frish, sheyt afn tish, dos vaybele dankt Got.
Zi shtelt im tsufridn vi s'firt zikh bay yidn
Mit alts vos zi hot

Yedn shabes matinee, a zeyger halb nokh tsvey,
A leb ton a bisl farfelt er oykh nit,
Er loyft in teater farkhapn a sit.
Yedn shabes matinee geyt er zen a naye play.
Un az Got helft tsum riml khapt er dort a driml, a shabes matinee.

Der arbeter-man, er arbet shver di gantse vokh in shop.
Der shabes kumt, a mentsh vert er, hoybt uf shtolts dem kop!
Mit zayn parshoyn, zayn lyube kroyn, geyt er oys in gas.
Er nemt zi in arem, un drikt zi gants varem, es iz keyn shpas.

Yedn shabes matinee in park shpatsirn zey.
Khotsh der himl s'varvolkent, es dunert, es blitst,
Dokh zitst dos porl tsuhitst un farshvitst.
Yedn shabes matinee, fun libe redn zey.
Un az got helft tsum riml khapt men dort a driml, a shabes matinee.

A sheyne froy, ful yugnt kheyn, vert an almone haynt.
A tsayt farbay, ir kent shoyn zen, kumt tsu gast a fraynt.
Vi oft er kumt, iz nit beshtimt, nor shabes kumt er dokh.
Er flit vi mit fligl farzukhn ir kigl fun vokh tsu vokh.

Yedn shabes matinee lad zi ayn ir fraynd tsu tee.
Zey trinken un redn, dokh fest iz di tir,
Zi efent ir herts far im un er far ir.
Yedn shabes matinee fun frayndshaft redn zey.
Un az Got helft tsum riml khapt er dort a driml, a shabes matinee.

The sabbath comes, the Jew is delighted, he sings beautiful table songs.
He gulps fish with gusto, with pepper and horseradish.
Fresh kugl sits on the table, his wife thanks God.
She makes him happy (per Jewish custom) with everything she has.

Every Sabbath matinee at 2:30 pm
He also gets to live a little:
He runs into the theater to grab a seat.
Every Sabbath matinee he goes to see a new play.
And with God's help, he gets a nap into the bargain.
A Sabbath matinee.

The working man works hard all week in the shop.
The Sabbath comes, he's a mentsh! He holds his head up proudly.
With his special sweetie he goes out in the street.
He takes her arm and squeezes her fondly, it's no joke.

Every Sabbath afternoon they walk in the park.
Even if there are stormclouds, thunder, lightning,
The couple sits there, hot and sweaty.
Every Sabbath afternoon they talk of love.
And with God's help one can grab a little nap on Shabes afternoon.

A pretty charming young woman becomes a widow today.
Some time goes by, you can see already a friend comes to visit.
It's not clear how often he comes, but certainly he comes on the Sabbath.
He flies as if with wings to taste her kugl, week after week.

Every Sabbath afternoon, she invites her friend for tea.
They drink and talk (the door is locked, of course).
She opens her heart to him, he opens his to her.
Every Sabbath in the afternoon, they talk of friendship.
And with God's help, he even grabs a little nap there..., on the Sabbath, in the afternoo

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