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Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Oy vey mamele (s'iz geven a dramele) = Uh, oh, Mom, there's been a little drama ... Yiddish sex ed warning from long ago

Click the album cover to hear and/or buy our recording of Oy vey mamele from the cd In Odess.

Itzik Zhelonek cites Zishe Katz as the singer of this song; however, as in many cases, it's the mega-star Aaron Lebedeff's recording which survives. Katz sang this from the young man's point of view, Lebedeff sang as the girl who has to explain to her mom what happened when she went walking with her fellow in the woods, and then they sat down, and then... "you should understand what happened next..."


And I turned it into a silly Yiddish music video!




In 1916, Nahma Sandrow points out in Vagabond Stars, Zishe Katz wrote about organizing actors' unions: "Even in best of times we were ... like gypsies who never know where their tomorrows will be... the Lodz Yiddish Artists' Union came recently to Warsaw to found a union which would be central for all Yiddish actors, since Warsaw has always been the center of Yiddish theater in Poland and Russia." He complained that the Warsaw Union meetings were as ineffective as the modus operandi of the old wandering theater groups: "You meet for a rehearsal and instead of rehearsing you set up a second rehearsal..."

Here's my translation from the Zishe Katz version:

Oy, mama, there's been a ruckus, I used to be a bachelor,
now I'm a husband. Near the river on the bank I was sitting alone,
so Mirele comes along...

By tomorrow, I say, little angel, you'll be my little bride,
little by little I've seen you, come walking in the woods...

And so we carried on, walking in the woods,
I myself don't know why, we sat ourselves down in the grass...

She kissed my head, she gave me an apple,
what happened next, mother, you should understand...

Now from this little love in a little town,
A little store, a still, a table, a bed, there's nothing more to see...

And I sing a little song by the cradle,
and there's a little baby fussing, and there's a stink in the air...

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