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

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Friday, April 25, 2014

Vu zaynen mayne zibn gute yor? Where are MY seven good years? Nellie Casman's hit from 'The Little Cantor'

Mollie Picon in "Yidl mitn fidl" was not the only short female star of the Yiddish theater to play a man. Nellie Casman, a very famous soubrette in her day, also wore the pants on stage.

This song was a big hit for Nellie, she sang it in Dos Khazndl (see right) and recorded it as Wu Sannen Meine 7 Gute Yohr? and you also see it as Vu zenen mayne zibn gute yor. David Meyerowitz wrote the song and I found it at the Copyright Office, under 1923, as Maine siber gite yur.

Evidently in Warsaw Nellie sang two verses of her own invention and tagged on a partial verse in what I have been told is fairly broken Polish. I skipped the Polish verse and added back the second Meyerowitz verse in which the singer complains about Prohibition: in the old days we could at least forget about our troubles by getting drunk and now that's forbidden!

In the Meyerowitz version the singer asks: "is my soul made of oakum?" Oakum is, according to the dictionary, "loose hemp or jute fiber, sometimes treated with tar, creosote, or asphalt, used chiefly for caulking seams in wooden ships and packing pipe joints."

Someone said he wanted to be able to sing along with these songs so as an experiment I've superimposed the Yiddish words on the choruses.


Here's me doing it on Youtube:






On the Mendele Yiddish list-serv somebody said the following about seven good years:

This is a reference to Pharaoh's dream in parshes mikets predicting seven good years and seven lean years. The implication is that if times are so bad, there must surely be seven good years somewhere

I did not like this song when I heard the 78. It was so slow and lugubrious I couldn't take it! I don't have that kind of attention span. This version is sped up, probably to an unacceptable degree, but when you learn it you can slow it down again.

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