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

1. Link to list of posts on this site
2. Link to songs for sale
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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Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Kadish nokh a yidishn zelner, aka Durkhn Dorf Geyt A Geshrey

UPDATE: I just realized the chorus of this Kaddish nokh a yidishn soldat is from a hearty Polish drinking song, Więc pijmy wino, szwoleżerowie (Let's Drink, Cavalrymen) - there are several versions on youtube.

Here's an Instagram 60-second video of the last verse:



Or click the image to listen to and/or buy this track from our Lebedik Yankel cd.




Zhelonek credited Pinkezon as the singer of this song. I wonder if that's a pseudonym for Pinchus Lavenda (right), whose version - found at the Robert & Molly Freedman Jewish Sound Archive - I transcribed for my sheet music version. There is a Polish version of this melody, words by Julian Tuwim, called Szwolezerowie (The Regiment).

Some of the lost Zhelonek songs turned under different names. Lorin Sklamberg, tenor extraordinaire and sound archivist at YIVO, sent me this information via the Jewish Music list:

"This song was originally written in German, and appears in both the Yiddish and German versions in the cd collection Vorbei: Beyond Recall, the catalyst for a concert program developed over the summer by Alan Bern under the title Semer Reloaded and premiered at Berlin's Jewish Museum.

"There were two vintage recordings made in Yiddish by Pinchus Lavenda - one for the German Semer label and one for American Vocalion (though I'm not sure that this is the same song, since I haven't heard the recording). We're not sure who made the Yiddish translation. There was also a recording by Martha Schlamme using a translation she made with a Yiddish poet. I believe there is a third verse that fills in the story between the other two verses."

Yiddish text (about the same as my transcription except it fills in the end of the first verse) and translation after the jump.
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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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