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Thursday, September 9, 2021

Birobidzhan: Stalin thought you should want to live there and this song agrees.

UPDATE: Somebody asked me for a sing along version, so here it is, the recording is still from "I Can't Complain" at Bandcamp
This Yiddish song of propaganda and emigration is often called Yugn Zikh Tsvey Taykhn - lyrics by Betsalel Friedman and music by Ben Yomen. I didn't know this until yesterday and when I looked up Ben Yomen's songbook Lider far shul un heym I found it (thanks to Jack Falk):

Yiddish song Birobidzhan original sheet music

There is also a cute song in the book called The Biro Bidzhan Freylekh. I can only assume Ben Yomen sincerely believed Birobidjan could be a good place for Jews to settle.

I was very startled to see this sheet music, because it's so different from what I learned - somewhere along its way to me the melody morphed into something quite different. I've never heard a recording of the song: I learned it from a pianist who had learned it from a cassette (which he can't find for me now).

Click below to hear the version Aviva and I recorded (and buy the sheet music of our version, if you like it):




This is the video Aviva and I made at our first concert together:




Later we recorded this and it's on I Can't Complain (But Sometimes I Still Do).

Here's the version Roger Lynn Spears and I did this past weekend: Birobidzhan




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