At "Trip to Yiddishland 2018" last week I was talking with Alec Burko about his amazing project, the Yiddish Dialect Dictionary. We both love obscure corners of Yiddish culture. I said "people are only ever searching for the same few popular Yiddish songs, like Mayn shtetele Belz. They don't know to search for something they have never heard before."
Alec suggested I should put some of the most popular Yiddish songs on this blog, and then when people found them, they might stick around and look at some of the less famous songs and might even realize the rare ones are JUST AS GOOD AS the ones they already know. Or better.
So I'm going to follow his advice and put some hits on this blog (shlager means a hit). I'm starting with Tsen Kopikes; somebody was going to sing it at one of the cabarets at Trip to Yiddishland and Eli Rosen asked if I'd accompany the guy. I would have, happily, but the guy chickened out. But it's a great song! It may have been at least partially a folk song, fragments of the lyrics were collected and printed by folklorist Shloyme Bastomski.
Here's the classic Aaron Lebedeff recording -
By the way, the whole compilation album Odessa Mama is one hit after another, highly recommended.
If you want the sheet music with chords, email me. The Yiddish lyrics (words and translation) are here after the jump.
Tsen kopikes hob ikh, tsen vel ikh mir layen,
Kh'vel nemen mayn sheyn meydele un geyn mit ir gulayen
Ikh vel zi traktirn mit bokser, teytlen, faygn,
Ikh vel zi kushn, gletn - zi vet lozn, zi vet shvaygn
Ay ay ay, vi zis un voyl un fayn,
Ay ay ay, vet mir dokh damolst zayn
Tsen kopikes hob ikh un tsen vel ikh mir borgn,
Un ikh vel mayn sheyn meydele mit al dos guts bazorgn
Ikh vel ir dokh koyfn a sheynem haldz-kareln
Un ikh vel mit mayn meydele a khupe teykev shteln
Tsen kopikes hob ikh un tsen vel ikh gefinen,
Un kh'vel mayn sheyn meydele vi a kinign badinen
Ikh vel ir oyfboyen a shtibele a vunder,
Un zi vet dokh mir brengen dan a fule shtub mit kinder
Tsen kopikes hob ikh un tsen vel ikh mir zukhn
Un kh'vel mayn sheyn meydele bakleydn un bashukhn
Ikh vel zi bahandlen erlekh, fayn un eydl
Itst zogt mir, libe mentshn nor: vu krigt men a sheyn meydl?
I have ten kopeks. I'll borrow ten, I'll take my pretty girl and go live it up with her
I'll treat her to carob, dates and figs,
I'll kiss and caress her and she'll let me, she won't fuss
Ay ay ay, how sweet and fine it will be for us then
I have ten kopeks. I'll borrow ten kopeks, and I'll provide everything good for my pretty girl. I'll buy her a pretty coral necklace, and I'll go to the chupah with her immediately.
I have ten kopeks, and I'll find ten kopeks, and I'll serve my pretty girl as if she were queen. I'll build her a wonderful house, and then she'll bring me a house full of children.
I have ten kopeks. I'll look for ten kopeks and I'll clothe and shoe my pretty girl. I'll treat her honorably, fine and with gentility. I just ask you, dear people - where can one find a pretty girl?