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

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Wednesday, January 22, 2014

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

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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