Polish Jewish Cabaret: a library of wonderful but forgotten Yiddish songs of the 1920s - 1930s. Have a listen!

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3. Click here for our music videos of Yiddish songs with English subtitles (mainly post-1925)
4. List of the still lost songs. Do you know any of them?
5. Warszawa zumerkurs song links

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Sunday, September 17, 2017

Az men farzukht (Az men farzikht un s'iz git) - Leo Fuchs version

The other day I put up the Aaron Lebedeff version of Az men farzukht because I could get the words more easily (with Sheva's help). The reader's original request, however, was for the later Leo Fuchs rendition.

I did as much of this one as I could and then asked the brilliant Yiddish performer/ethnographer Michael Alpert for help and he very graciously fixed my occasional gibberish, pointing out, however, that the zeitgeist past zikh nisht these days. Here he is:


Yes, Leo Fuchs and in fact all the Yiddish theater song stars were politically incorrect, but that's for some PhD student to complain about. And in the meantime, nobody says you can't write your own verses. There is plenty of greed in the world these days. Get yourself a Yiddish rhyming dictionary and have at it!

Words after the jump.

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Thursday, September 14, 2017

Az men farzukht un s'iz gut, vilt zikh nokh a mol - as sung by Aaron Lebedeff. Reader's request.

In Lebedeff's dialect this would be "Az men farzikht in s'iz git" (and that's the way I did the sing-along titles).

The title is also transcribed as "Az Men Farzijt" and "Az men farzucht un s'is gut." It's about men's insatiable appetites.

I don't know anything else about this song (if you do, let me know). There is another available recording, with different verses, sung by Leo Fuchs. Maybe I'll do that one too.

Here is the video with translation and sing-along captions.


The hard thing about these songs: figuring out the words. The performers sung in so many different dialects and the sound quality is rarely as good as it is in this recording. There are a few people who are good at this and one of them is Yiddishist Sheva Zucker. She helped me with the lyrics here. (See them after the jump.)

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Monday, September 4, 2017

Me darf makhn a lebn (You gotta make a living) as composed and performed by Leo Fuchs

Leo Fuchs was a physical comic and an amazing dancer. He was one of the youngest of the really gifted Yiddish theater actors and so had the opportunity to make movies.

A reader of this blog wrote me and asked if I could provide the sheet music for this song, which is variously transliterated Men Darf Machen A Leben, Men Darf Majen A Leiben, and M'darf makhn a laybn.

I suggested he get in touch with the fine Yiddish singer Yanky Lemmer (whom he had heard performing the song) and Yanky generously provided the Yiddish lyrics. So I did make the sheet music, write me if you want it.

Here is the song as Leo Fuchs sang it back in the day, with a sing-along Yiddish transliteration and my translation in the captions / subtitles:


"Me darf" can also be translated as "one ought to," "One needs to," "Everybody needs to," etc.

I like this idea in the second verse: Leo Fuchs does not caper and play the fool because he wants to. He does it because everybody has to make a living.

Words after the jump.

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Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Alts far gelt (Henri Gerro's version) - Everything for money

This is a good song for the corrupt, venal administration we are suffering under. The song was originally written and copyrighted by Aaron Lebedeff but in this version, from a later generation, Henri Gerro (who was four years old when Lebedeff wrote the song) created his own introduction and all his own verses, retaining only the original chorus. I love it.

Sheva Zucker and I worked out the words and we missed a couple so corrections are welcome. Here's the song:


I have also gotten hold of the original lyrics as Aaron Lebedeff sang and that version will be coming along later.

Transliteration and translation from the Yiddish after the jump.

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Monday, February 6, 2017

Mir zol zayn far dir (If I could only take it upon myself) - Yiddish theater song from "Circus Girl"

I have the words for this one from a folio of Joseph Rumshinsky hits, and I have the record from eBay, so here it is. You'll find this song not only under the standard YIVO transliteration above, but under all these permutations: Mir Zol Zein Far Dir, Mir Sol Sein Far Dir, Mir Sol Zein Far Dir, Mir Zol Sein Far Dir. On the label the song is subtitled "Devotion." Rumshinsky takes credit for the music and Picon is credited for the lyrics. There is a much later recording by June Astor.

Zylberzweig says that in 1928 Jacob Kalich and Joseph Rumshinsky staged Dos tsirkus meydl (The Circus Girl), with Molly Picon as star of course, also starring Sam Kestin, Betty Simonoff, Gertrude Bulman and Irving Grossman -- in the show Molly sang this song, but the recording I have is of Irving. You can read about Irving Grossman (1900-1964) here.

Here it is, with subtitles and sing-along Yiddish captions in transliteration:


Words and translation after the jump.

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