Yiddish Curiosities: a library of wonderful but forgotten Yiddish songs from the late 1920s and after (includes Polish Jewish Cabaret). Have a listen!

1. Link to list of posts on this site
2. Link to songs for sale
3. Click here for our music videos of Yiddish songs with English subtitles (mainly post-1925)
4. List of the still lost songs. Do you know any of them?
5. Warszawa zumerkurs song links


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 didn't 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.

The Yiddish transliterated words after the jump.

Far aykh, mentshn, muz ikh mikh baklogn
Fun tsures hob ikh shoyn bald groye hor,
Gehorkht hob ikh fun file mentshn zogn
Az Got git yedn zibn gute yor.
Azoy halt ikh in eyn roykhern un in eyn trunken
Ikh vart shoyn: ven vet nemen a sof
Un vos mer a tog vos mer ver ikh gezunken
Un ikh gey alts mer arop onshtot aroyf.

Vu zenen mayne zibn gute yor?
Oyb nist zebn zol khotsh zayn a por!
Gestorbn iz shoyn lang mayn shtrebn
Ikh bin shoyn mid fun aza lebn
Vu zenen mayne zibn gute yor? yor?
Vu zenen mayne zibn gute yor?
Oyb nist zebn zol khotsh zayn a por!
Vilt ir nisht, meydlekh, zayn in zorgn
A vund a tife ligt farborgn
Vu zenen mayne zibn gute yor?

Far aykh meydlekh muz ikh do derklern
Batrakhtn zol ir dos un gut farshteyn:
Tsu tate-mame zol ir zikh tsuhern
vet mit aykh keyn beyz nisht geshen.
Ikh zog es vayl ikh bin in dem derfarn:
Ven gehorkht volt ikh zeyer farshtand
Dem zin keyn sharlatan volt mikh nisht geton farnarn
un gebrakht dertsu, dos vos ikh bin

Grushe shtshenshtshe mego 
Shedem liyat moye
nyekh bendzhie sheshtsh
nyekh mnye to zshitsie moye
bo yudsh ve mnye tenskno traye
gdzshe shtshenshtshe mego   shedem lyat, oy, yey

original words:
Far aykh mentshn muz ikh mir baklogn
Fun daygene vert mir az groy di hor
Gehert hob ikh fun file mentshn zogn
Az Got git yedn zibn gute yor
Azoy halt ikh in eyn vartn, in eyn hofn
Ikh vart, ikh ver tsupiket, ikh krapir
Un di gute yor hot mir nokh nit getrofn
Iz es meglekh az mayn Got zol blofn mir?

Vu zaynen mayne zibn gute yor?
Oyb nit zibn zol khotsh zayn a por
Epes fun dem lebn khatshe
Iz mayn neshome den fun klatshe
Vu zaynen mayne ziben gute yor?

Dos tam fun kabtsn zol keyner farzukhn
Es trikent di gehirn oys fun moyekh
A kabtsn tsu a toytn iz geglikhn
Dos zobt di toyre un ikh zog dos oykh
Amol flegt men di tsores khotsh fargisn
Men hot zikh onge'shikert un gemeynt s'iz gut
Mit bir un vayn fun vyern, fun zisn
un afile dos erloybt men heynt oykh nit

Ikh ze vi mankhe vern raykh un gliklekh
Un af mir vos vayter shlept zikh mer di noyt
Vos ikh farmog iz nor af tsuker shtriklekh
Khotsh heybt zikh uf un hob a zisn toyt
Un af yener velt volt ikh gemakht a fayt?
Hob ikh moyre zey veln hobn dort a terets
Ver hot aykh geheysn shtarbn fun der tsayt

Ale mayne yorn hobn eyn ponim
Vu nor a shvarts yor muft tsu mir arayn
Gloybt mir az ikh vintsh nit mayne sonim
Gebarn vern un kabtsonim zayn
Un efsher zayt ir oykh fun zelbn yikhus
Dan lomir ale bildn eyn fareyn
Vilt ir nit bildn zogt nor yo vel ikh es
Un zol undzer pasir vort, take

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