Click the album cover to hear our recording of Meydlekh from the Lebedik Yankel cd. Or click below to see us perform the song in concert. (There is also a silly animated version I made, you can find that on Youtube also)
It was a lovely stranger, Nadia Déhan, who found this song for me on the europeana.eu site and took the trouble to send me the link. I hadn't found it because it is spelled "Mädlech, schone Mädlech" on that site. I like the song so much it's the first track on our cd "Lebedik Yankel: Yiddish Songs from Warsaw Volume II." Turns out this is the same tune as Rubin Doctor's Chicken which was a hit a decade earlier.
Itzik Zhelonek took the song down from Sam Goldberg, a Yiddish theater star who is now pretty much forgotten, but the 78 digitized at europeana.eu is sung by Betty Kenig.
Betty Koenig was, I believe, from Germany, but I can't find much about her. I love her rough, raunchy style, but the words to her recordings are impossible to understand. I did find these two snippets about her tours in North America:
Ohio Jewish Chronical front page, November 1925: "A capacity audience greeted the well-known and beloved actress, Betty Kenig, and her brilliant company of fine Jewish artists ... at the Chamber of Commerce auditorium... the all-star cast [is] composed of the following: Betty Kenig, Sam Morris, Pauline Shaffer, Isadore Wernick, Flora Klug, and Regina Weiss."
Canadian Jewish Chronicle, March 1927: "Betty Kenig, one of the most vivacious soubrettes on the Yiddish stage at the present time, will star in a musical comedy "My MOther's Betrothed." Miss Kenig is a dancer of note and has a voice of remarkable range which she utilizes to good effect. Being a clever mimic and an inborn comedian she is especially noted for her male impersonations... the music is modern, of the lilting type..."
Here is the English translation of the Yiddish text of the song. Click the link at the top of the post to hear our rendition (Randy Kloko is singing bass and I'm the girl singer).
The world is very beautiful and rich because there are a lot of girls, pretty girls
Tell me, please, which of you men hate girls these days, God forbid? Girls, pretty girls.
A young man when he grows up quickly feels he is lacking the dear beautiful sweet lovable charms
He walks around the park at night until he falls head over heels for a girl with pretty white teeth
Girls, sweet girls, health and strength to your little bones
You can bring a dead guy to life, nobody can die with you around, pretty girls.
An old man who smells of the grave, even he cries out that he loves girls, the pretty girls
The old man springs right up, before he dies he wants once again to kiss girls, pretty girls
He dies in a good hour, he makes his will
When they came to cart off his remains
There was a great outcry when they saw the will,
just hear with the old guy wrote there:
Girls, sweet girls, health, strength to your little bones
God should make me happy and send to me in my tomb
Girls, at least a little bit of girls