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


Monday, September 4, 2017

Me darf makhn a lebn (You gotta make a living) as composed and performed by Leo Fuchs

Leo Fuchs was a physical comic and an amazing dancer. He was one of the youngest of the really gifted Yiddish theater actors and so had the opportunity to make movies.

A reader of this blog wrote me and asked if I could provide the sheet music for this song, which is variously transliterated Men Darf Machen A Leben, Men Darf Majen A Leiben, and M'darf makhn a laybn.

I suggested he get in touch with the fine Yiddish singer Yanky Lemmer (whom he had heard performing the song) and Yanky generously provided the Yiddish lyrics. So I did make the sheet music, write me if you want it.

Here is the song as Leo Fuchs sang it back in the day, with a sing-along Yiddish transliteration and my translation in the captions / subtitles:

"Me darf" can also be translated as "one ought to," "One needs to," "Everybody needs to," etc.

I like this idea in the second verse: Leo Fuchs does not caper and play the fool because he wants to. He does it because everybody has to make a living.

Words after the jump.

Me darf makhn a lebn, me darf makhn a lebn
Me darf mit als farzorgn zikh
Me darf a kleyd, me darf a shikh
Me darf makhn a lebn, me darf makhn a lebn
Me darf, me darf, me darf, me darf,
Me darf makhn a lebn

Ven ikh gey aroys in gas
Baynakht tzi in der fri
Her ikh mentshn krign zikh,
Me shpart zikh on a tzi.
Socialistn komunistn (or as Yanky sings it, demokratn) me tumlen on a mos
Me krigt zikh un me shpart zikh dort, nu veystu fraynd farvos?

Ikh dank aykh mayne libe fraynd fun hartzn on a shier
Ikh bin tzufridn vos ir hert aykh ale ayn tzu mir
Ir meynt ikh bin a tzedreyter fun di kuntzn vos ikh makh,
Vos meynt ir? Az ikh VIL mshuge makhn zikh far aykh??? Ober....

You've gotta make a living. You've gotta provide yourself with everything,
You need a dress, shoes. You have to make a living.

When I go out in the street, at night or in the morning, I hear people quarrelling.
They argue endlessly. Socialists, communists, they're always fighting. Want to know why?

I thank you, my dear friends, from my heart. I'm happy you're hearing me out.
You think I'm crazy because of the tricks I play.
What do you think, that I want to act all crazy for you? But...

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