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

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Friday, May 30, 2014

Ikh vel shoyn mer nit ganvenen (I won't do any more stealing) - a Yiddish underworld song

When I have the time, I look for rare Yiddish songs on eBay. This was one of my finds, a 78 sung by Abraham Moskowitz (left). It's an earworm of a tune and there are many texts and melodies that come under this title.

Itzik Gottesman discusses the song and has a recording of it as Ikh vel nit ganvenen (an a capella version) on his Yiddish Song of the Week blog.

There's a version in the Mloteks' Pearls of Yiddish Song and there are about 10 versions in the 1908 Warsaw book Ganovim Lider which can be found at the Robert and Molly Freedman Jewish Sound Archive, and that's where I sent the Moscowitz record if you want to hear it.

Since I had some trouble hearing the Moscowitz lyrics, I just chose some of my favorite verses from the various versions and here you have them.






Here is the English translation:


I'm not afraid or embarrassed in front of anyone
Because my profession came to me as an inheritance
I won't steal any more - I'll just take.

Because I was a fool and didn't obey my father
Now I'm sitting in jail looking through the bars

I crawled in through a window but I got caught red-handed
They grabbed me and beat me nearly to death

Fly over the shrubs, my little bird,
Give my greetings to the vagrants in Warsaw

When I was free, I got my shirts pressed
Now that I'm in the pokey, the bedbugs eat me

Master of the Universe, I myself swear to you:
If I get out of the slammer, I won't steal any more

If I get out of the joint, I'll walk in Your ways
(The first order of business: a gold watch!)

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