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

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Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Di eybike mame (The Eternal Mother) - animated video of the Yiddish theater song with English subtitles

I stayed up till 4 in the morning a few times working on this video. The pictures of kids at the end are my kids and their friends, plus a few kids whose pictures I took at Yidish-Vokh this year. I used Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop and compiled the video in Premiere Pro.



You can listen to and/or buy the track by clicking here:



Also - I did a lead sheet with chords for the whole song, if you want to buy the sheet music with chords, translation, transliterated words, etc, click here:




Lucy Gehrman in Di Eybike MameAccording to the sheet music, this song was the "shlager" (big hit) from a show of the same name composed by Misha German as a showcase for his wife Lucy German (born Losha Kutner 1889 in Warsaw, Poland) singing the long suffering mother.

The magnificent Harry Lubin composed the music and the piano part is seven pages long (my colleague Aviva Enoch played it beautifully here). The lyrics were composed by Israel Rosenberg. (Lubin was the pianist who accompanied Menashe Oppenheim on his "Nisim, nisim" - you can find it on Youtube and Aviva and I recorded it on "I Can't Complain but Sometimes I Still Do).

The first part of the song is a hodgepodge of different musical motifs, any one of them could have been made into a song all by itself. The second part, the big tango chorus, is what Lucy Gehrman recorded (along with a "declamation").

Have I complained before that this one is filed under "ELBIQE MAMA" at Florida Atlantic University? You have to browse the entire listing if you're hoping to find obscure Yiddish songs! The transliterated title on the sheet music is Di Eybige Mame, also "Die Eibige Mame."

I asked Beth Holmgren, my singing buddy from Mappamundi and Cabaret Warsaw to join me on the chorus. Thanks, Beth!

Here's a translation of the Yiddish words:

It's every woman's desire to be a mother. Only a woman can feel a mother's happiness and joy when she gets her first glimpse of her firstborn child. The child may be ugly but to the mother it's beautiful. Every habit is sweet, every foolishness is full of charm. The song of all songs is the song a mother sings at the cradle to her child, about the little white goat, sleep my dear child, lu lu lu... there may be days of hunger, of suffering, the child mustn't know anything about that. The mother tears off her skin for her child, she gives it the last bite. The mother hopes when she is old and weak her children will repay her with lots of pride and joy. In the end she's forgotten, lonely at night, alone by day. The children go their own ways.

Eternal mother, who can feel your grief?
Eternal mother, you're an eternal fool
You sacrificed your life, your happiness, your health
You raised your child with your heart and your struggles
You hope when you're old you'll have pride in them
One mother can take care of even ten children
Ten children let one mother, God forbid, go begging
Eternal mother you're an eternal fool

Declamation:
If a father wants to beat his child, the mother stands between them; if the child commits a sin, for the mother he's a pure angel. And when the child gets sick, no matter for how long, the mother doesn't notice the difference between day and night, she trembles and watches over her child's life. And when God forbid the mother dies, she doesn't fail, she herself drags the heavy wagon, she carries all the troubles and plagues until God helps the child grow, and the mother hopes things will be better. Big children, big suffering, so many tears, so little happiness.

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