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

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Sunday, November 24, 2013

Der Kashtenboym (The Chestnut Tree) - a Yiddish song by Lola Folman

Yiddish folksinger Lola FolmanLola Folman (1908–1979) was a Polish Jewish songwriter who performed her own material. Her husband, Yitskhok Perlov, wrote the words to many of her songs. She was also an actress, performing with Dzigan & Shumacher's Melokhishe Yidishe Miniatur-Teater in Bialystok (the director was Moshe Broderson).

Dos Baytshl Kreln (The Coral Necklace) is probably the song of hers which is best known today. Di manikurzhistke (The Manicurist) is a song of hers included in the Zhelonek collection as being famous at the time, but I haven't found anybody who's even heard of it, much less heard it (including Folman's niece).

My band Mappamundi recorded Folman's Der kashtenboym (The Chestnut Tree) on our record Cabaret Warsaw. It has a lovely tune and a little bite to the message.






Here's my translation of the Yiddish lyrics into English:

A mama had a little daughter with beautiful blond hair. She sings and sews a little dress and dreams. The apple falls not far from the tree.

The years go by, life goes its way, the daughter is grown, pretty and slim. The mother, 42 years old, is still young and fit. The daughter is 16 and has already become successful.

Young men hang around outside her house, singing pretty little songs and calling her to come out: "Come out, my dear, the chestnut tree is blooming, I'm yours, you're mine, I dream of no one else."

The mama thinks they mean her; she runs to the mirror like a rabbit. The daughter blushes and hangs her (nose). "Children must go go sleep, there are ... dogs ... outside." "Mom, I'm not sleepy, I'm not a child any longer."

The mom creeps into her bedroom and lies right down, listening to the chestnut tree that's rapping on the window and saying: "Once I bloomed for you when you were young -- now I bloom for your daughter because she's young and pretty."

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