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

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Saturday, June 21, 2014

Mr Malekh HaMoves, ikh bin 'bizy' - Mr Angel of Death, I'm busy!

It was almost a year ago that I posted the hand-written sheet music to this song and asked for help with the cursive. I sang the song at Yidish Vokh 2013 but it wsn't until this week that pianist Roger Lynn Spears and I got it together and recorded the song for youtube. This was my first-ever attempt at lip-synching - Roger did not want to be on camera - I have to say, I felt darn silly.

Casman wrote the title this way: Mr Malach Hamooves ich bin busy

Born in 1896, raised in Philadelphia, Nellie Casman (as she boasts in the first line of this song) wrote and recorded many songs. She was a darling wherever she went - several of her hits are in the Itzik Zhelonek collection.

What a great song this is! I saw the title in Heskes and fell in love with it. Wonderful research librarian Sharon Horowitz at the Library Congress found the sheet music for me and since there is no recording, Roger and I dreamed up an arrangement, and here it is.






Here's my translation:



I've written lots of songs, tunes and lyrics both
And I've sung for Jews as well as for goyim
The world has my songs on records and in print
But I never earned thanks like this!
It happened while I was unbelievably busy
That's when the Angel of Death heard it straight from me:
I think I'm also too busy to die
When death comes around, I tell him: Don't bother me!

Mr Angel of Death, I'm busy!
Dying isn't easy at all.
I have to go to a wedding, I have to go to a bris
And I have to go dancing a little
Mr Angel of Death, I'm busy.
Leave me alone, I'm getting dizzy!
I'm a respectful person, I'll donate a holy book to the synagogue
Mr Angel of Death, I'm busy, and that's all.

Last night I was lying in bed, very sick,
Counting up how much money it was costing me.
Suddenly I see the Angel of Death, he says to me:
"Your name's Nellie Casman, right? Come with me."
That's when I did a little thinking with my clever head
How to deceive the Angel of Death, and quickly!?
I quickly came up with a good plan,
and with awe and respect this is how I answered:

If David Kessler had followed my clever plan
He would still be starring in "Shloymke Charltan"
If Yankev P. Adler had listened to me
To this day he'd still be playing King Lear for us
You're lucky, you're fortunate, my dear friends,
That you came to hear Nellie Casman tonight.
When - God forbid! - the Angel of Death visits you,
How are you going to answer him? Everybody tell me!

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