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

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Thursday, February 28, 2019

Der dishvasher (The Dishwasher) - Yiddish theater song from Herman Yablokoff's 1934 show

I bought this sheet music on eBay a couple months ago but was too busy and too sick to sing it until now.

Then, weirdly, Itzik Gottesman scooped me by a couple of days with this same very obscure number!

Since he provides a lot of information, I'm sending you over there - check it out on his blog: Der dishvasher performed by Harris. He shares a recording made in his living room and also points you to a performance by Yablokoff himself.

I have to laugh when I see how this dishwasher is dressed in a sort of toreador outfit, with a dashing gypsy kerchief and a cigarette. He doesn't look to me like he does many dishes.

Vivi Lachs thinks the Bundist song Arum dem fayer was stolen from this song. Or perhaps vice versa. You may remember that Yablokoff is the author of Shvayg mayn harts which he insisted was plagiarized in the making of the far more famous jazz standard "Nature Boy." He did get a nice little pot of money in settlement.

Here's my living room version:



The sheet music has more lines per verse and more verses than the version Itzik Gottesman provided. Transliteration and translation from the Yiddish after the jump.



In a restoran hob ikh gezen an altn man in kitshn shteyn
Arum im rash't er redt keyn vort er shteyt un vasht di dishes dort
Un mit gefil brumt er shtil:

Ikh vash mit mayne shvakhe hent.
Ikh vash un vash, fardin ikh a por sent.
Fun fri biz shpet far a trukn shtikl broyt
Ikh vash un bet af zikh aleyn dem toyt.

Amol geven mit mentshn glaykh gehat a heym gevezn raykh
Geven iz dan der tate git itst bin ikh alt keyner darf mikh nit
Un in dem rash shtey ikh un vash

Ikh hob kinder fir gebildet groys di eydems, shnir varfn mir aroys
Mayn tokhters fight ikh zol geyn tsum zin mayn zun, er shrayt: ikh ken gornit ton
Un in dem rash shtey ikh un vash

In a restaurant I saw an old man standing in the kitchen
Noise was all around him, he didn't say a word, he stood and washed the dishes
And with feeling he quietly hummed:

I wash with my weak hands, I wash and wash and earn a couple of pennies.
From early until late for a dry bit of bread
I wash and pray for my own death.

I was once the equal of others, I had a home, I was rich,
The father was good then, now I'm old, nobody needs me
And in the noise I stand and wash

I have four children, well educated. My sons-in-law and daughters-in-law throw me out
My daughters fight: I should go to my son. My son shouts: I can't do anything
And in the noise I stand and wash

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