Yiddish Lullabies & Love Songs

by Inna Barmash

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Yiddish songs - twinkling lullabies and earnest songs of love and love gone wrong. Raw, beautiful and elegant in their simplicity, many of the songs are rarely heard treasures of old Soviet era anthologies of songs collected in the shtetls of Ukraine in the 1920s.

The recording project is made possible through a grant by the BluePrint Fellowship project of COJECO, funded by the UJA-Federation of New York and Genesis Philanthropy Group.

Artwork by Irina Sheynfeld. Photography by Mark Gurevich.


released November 27, 2013



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Inna Barmash New York, New York

NY-based folk singer of Yiddish, Russian and other Eastern European languages and rootsy new American music. Born in Vilnius, Lithuania, Inna is the vocalist of the gypsy party band Romashka, the chamber folk ensemble Ljova & the Kontraband and a new project, Yiddish Lullabies & Love Songs. ... more

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Track Name: Shtey Shoyn Af, Tokhter Mayn Getraye (Wake Up, My Dear Daughter)
Oy shtey shoyn af tokhter mayn getraye,
Dayne lipelekh zenen dir farshmakht.
Shtey shoyn af tokhter mayn getraye,
Dayn kave zi shteyt shoyn fartik gemakht.

Oy mame, oy miter,
Vos toyg mir mayn leybn af der velt?
Az dem vos ikh hob lib ken ikh nit nemen,
Mit vemen vel ikh opfirn mayn velt?

Oy, dayne bekelekh hobn geblit vi di royte epelekh,
Far ayn glik hob ikh mir dus forgeshtelt.
Haynt, az di bist arayn tsu dem merder in di hent aran.
Oy af eybik hot er farimert dir dayn velt.

O wake up my dear daughter,
Your lips are so pale;
Wake up my dear daughter,
Your coffee is waiting for you, already made.

O mama, o mother,
What good is my life in the world?
If I cannot take the one I love.
With whom shall I spend my life?

O your cheeks were blooming like the red apples,
I imagined this meant happiness.
Now, that you have fallen into that murderer‘s hands,
He has forever saddened your world.
Track Name: Ven Ikh Zol Hobn Fligelekh (If I Had Wings)
Ven ikh zol hobn fligelekh
Ay, volt ikh dokh tsu dir gefloygn.
Un ven ikh zol hobn keytelekh
Volt ikh zikh tsu dir getsoygn.

Oy, af yener zayt taykh, af yener zayt breg,
Oy, zaynen di tsvaygn geboygn.
Dortn, dortn shteyt mayn zis-lebn
Mit farveynte oygn.

Oy her shoyn uf tsu veynen, her shoyn uf tsu klogn,
Mit veynen vestu gornit makhn.
Efn uf mayn harts, vestu zen, vi s’iz shvarts,
Vestu visn, vi lib hob ikh dikh.

If I had wings
I would fly to you.
And if I had chains
I would pull you to me.

On that side of the river, on that side of the bank,
The boughs are bent.
There, there stands my sweetheart
With tearful eyes.

Oh stop weeping, stop wailing,
You will accomplish nothing with tears.
Open up my heart, you’ll see that it’s black,
You’ll know how much I love you.
Track Name: Do Zolst Nisht Geyn Mit Keyn Anderinke Meydelekh (Don't You Dare Go Out with Other Girls)
Du zolst nisht geyn mit keyn anderinke meydelekh ,
Du zolst geyn nor mit mir!
Du zolst nisht geyn tsu dayn mamele in shtibele,
Nor kumen zolstu tsu mir.

Vu iz dos gesele, vu iz dos shtibele,
Vu iz dos ingele, vos ikh hob lib?
Nishto dos gesele, nishto dos shtibele,
Dos ingele, vos ikh hob lib….

A libe fangt zikh on fun a shmeykhl
Fun a shmeykhl biz tsu a kush.
Es nemt avek baym klugstn dem seykhl,
Dos klugste meydl makht dos tsu nisht

I won't have you go about with other girls,
You must only go about with me!
Do not go and see your mother,
You must come and see me, only me.

Where is the little street, where is the little house,
Where is the lad who is so dear to me?
The little street is gone, the little house is gone,
Gone is the lad who is so dear to me…

Love starts with a smile, then a kiss follows.
Love can make the wisest lad foolish,
And it makes the wisest girl forget herself.
Track Name: Shlof Mayn Kind (Sleep, My Child)
Shlof mayn kind, mayn treyst, mayn sheyner
Shlof zhe, lyu lyu lyu
Shlof mayn lebn, mayn kaddish eyner
Shlof zhe, zunenyu

Bay dayn vigl zitst dayn mame,
Zingt a lid un veynt.
Vest a mol farshteyn mistame
Vos zi hot gemeynt

In Amerike iz der tate
Dayner, zunenyu;
Du bist nokh a kind lesate,
Shlof zhe, shlof, lyu-lyu.

Dos Amerike iz far yedn zogt men, gor a glik.
Un far yidn a gan yedn, epes an antic.

Dort est men in der vokhn khale zunenyu.
Yaykhelekh vet ikh dir kohn,
Shlof zhe, shlof, lyu-lyu

Er vet shikn tsvantik doler zayn portret dertsu.
Un vet nemen, lebn zol er,
Undz ahintsutsu

Shlof mayn kind…

Biz es kumt dos gute kvitl
Shlof zhe, zunenyu.
Shlofn iz a tayer mitl,
Shlof zhe, shlof, lyu-lyu. Sleep, my child, sweet comfort mine.
Sleep, my life, sole kaddish mine,
Sleep my little darling.

By your cradle sits your mama,
Sings a song and weeps.
You’ll understand some day perhaps
What is on her mind

Your father is in America,
My son;
And you are still a child,
So sleep, sleep, lullaby.

That America is for everyone pure luck, they say.
And for Jews it is a paradise, a pure wonder.

There challah is eaten, even on weekdays.
When we get there, I will cook broths for you.
Sleep, sleep, lullaby.

Your father will send us twenty dollars
and his photograph, too.
He will bring us there, may he live long.

Sleep my child…

Until we get the happy letter,
Sleep, my darling one.
Sleeping is a big deal,
Sleep, sleep, lullaby.
Track Name: Afn Boydem (Above the Attic)
Afn boydem shloft der dakh
Tsugedekht mit shindelekh.
Un in vigl ligt a kind,
Naket, gor on vindelekh.

Hop, hop, ot azoy,
Est di tsig fun dakh dem shtroy

Afn boydem shteyt a vig,
Vigt zikh dort a shpin in ir;
Tsit er fun mir dos khayes oys
Un dem dales lozt er mir.

Afn boydem shteyt a hon
Un zayn kam iz fayer-royt.
Zol mayn vayb ergets borgn
Far di kinder a shtikl broyt…

On the attic the roof is sleeping,
Covered with shingles.
And in the cradle the child lies,
Naked, without diapers.

Hop, hop, this is how the goat
Eats straw from the roof.

In the attic there stands a cradle
And a spider rocks in it.
It saps my life
And leaves me my poverty.

On the roof there stands a rooster
And its comb is fiery red.
Perhaps my wife will borrow somewhere
A piece of bread for the children…
Track Name: Shlof, Shlof, Shlof (Sleep, Sleep, Sleep)
Shlof, shlof, shlof!
Der tate vet forn in dorf,
Vet er brengen an epele,
Vet zayn gezunt dos kepele!

Shlof, shlof, shlof!
Der tate vet forn in dorf,
Vet er brengen a nisele,
Vet zayn gezunt dos fisele!

Shlof, shlof, shlof!
Der tate vet forn in dorf
Vet er brengen an entele,
Vet zayn gezunt dos hentele!

Shlof, shlof, shlof!
Der tate vet forn in dorf,
Vet er brengen a yaykhele,
Vet zayn gezunt dos baykhele!

Shlof, shlof, shlof!
Der tate vet forn in dorf,
Vet er brengen a hezele,
Vet zayn gezunt dos nezele!

Sleep, sleep, sleep!
Daddy will go to the village,
He will bring an apple
To make your little head strong!

Sleep, sleep, sleep!
Daddy will go to the village,
He will bring a little nut
To make your little feet strong!

Sleep, sleep, sleep!
Daddy will go to the village,
He will bring a little duck
To make your little hand strong!

Sleep, sleep, sleep!
Daddy will go to the village,
He will bring a little soup
To make your little belly strong!

Sleep, sleep, sleep!
Daddy will go to the village,
He will bring a little hare
To make your little nose strong!
Track Name: Oy Abram
Oy, Abram, ikh ken on dir nit zayn
Ikh on dir un du on mir
Kenen mir beyde nit zayn!
Gedenkstu, gedenkstu, bay dem toyer
Hostu mir gezogt a sod in oyer,
“Oy vey, Rivkenyu, gib zhe mir dayn piskenyu!”

Oy, Abram, ikh ken on dir nit zayn!
Ikh on dir, un du on mir
Iz vi a klyamke on a tir!
Gedenkstu, gedensktu, oyf dem bulvar
Ikh der kluger un du der nar?
“Oy vey, Rivkenyu, gib zhe mir dayn piskenyu!”

Oy, Abram, ikh ken on dir nit zayn!
Ikh on dir un du on mir
Kenen mir beyde nit zayn
Gedenkstu, gedenkstu dos royte kleyd?
Oy bin ikh geven a sheyn meydl!
“Oy vey, Rivkenyu, gib zhe mir dayn piskenyu!”

Oh Abram, I cannot live without you
I without you, and you without me
We cannot live without one another!
Remember the day when at the gate
You whispered into my ear,
“Oy vey, Rivkenyu, give me your lips!”

Oh Abram, I cannot live without you
I without you and you without me
Is like a doorknob without a door!
Remember the day when on boulevard
I was clever and you were silly?
“Rivkenyu, give me your lips!”

Oh Abram, I cannot live without you!
I without you, and you without me
We cannot live without the other
Remember my red dress?
What a pretty girl I was!
“Rivkenyu, give me your lips!”
Track Name: Zint Ikh Bin Tsu Mayn Seykhl Gekumen (Ever Since I Remember)
Zint ikh bin tsu mayn seykhl gekumen
Oy, azoy bin ikh fun der libe farbrent
In mayn hartsn, oy, brent a hellish fayer
Rateven kon mikh keyner nit.

Dayne tsvey shvartsinke eygelekh
Mit dayn kepele shvartse hor…
Vi a magnet hostu mikh tsugetsoygn
Yetst kirtstu mir mayne yor.

Vu zhe nemt men a dokter a gutn
Er zol mir gen a refue tsu mayn harts
Er zol mir gebn a retsept, oy vey, a gutn
Er zol zayn tsu maynem shmarts

M’hot mir geredt kales mit nadn
Un mit kleyder, un mit a sakh gelt.
Vi a magnet hostu mikh tsugetsoygn,
Yetst gey ikh durkh dir fun der velt

As long as I can remember
Oh, I’ve been burned by love
An infernal fire burns in my heart
No one can save me.

Your two black eyes
And your head of black hair…
You attracted me like a magnet
Now you shorten my years.

Where can one find a good doctor
Who can give me a cure for my heart
He should give me a prescription, oh well, a good one
He should take care of my pain

They’ve proposed fiancés with dowries
And with clothes, and a lot of money.
You attracted me like a magnet
Now through you I will leave this world
Track Name: Oyfn Veg Shteyt a Boym (By the Road Stands a Tree)
Oyfn veg shteyt a boym, shteyt er ayngeboygn,
Ale feygl funem boym zaynen zikh tsefloygn.
Dray keyn mayrev, dray keyn mizrekh,
Un der resht - keyn dorem,
Un dem boym gelozt aleyn hefker far dem shturem.

Zog ikh tsu der mamen: -her, zolst mir nor nit shtern,
Vel ikh, mame, eyns un tsvey, bald a foygl vern.
Ikh vel zitsn oyfn boym un vel im farvign
Ibern vinter mit a treyst mit a sheynem nign.

Zogt di mame: - nite, kind, un zi veynt mit trern -
Vest kholile oyfn boym mir far froyrn vern.
Zog ikh: -mame, s'iz a shod dayne sheyne oygn
Un eyder vos un eyder ven, bin ikh mir a foygl.

Veynt di mame: - ltsik, kroyn, ze, um gotes viln,
Nem zikh mit a shalikl, kenst zikh nokh farkiln.
Di kaloshn tu zikh on, s'geyt a sharfer vinter
Un di kutshme nem oykh mit - Vey iz mir un vind mir...

- Un dos vinter-laybl nem, tu es on, du shovte,
Oyb du vilst nit zayn keyn gast tsvishn ale toyte...
Kh'heyb di fligl, s'iz mir shver, tsu fil, tsu fil zakhn,
Hot di mame ongeton ir feygele, dem shvakhn.

Kuk ikh troyerik mir arayn in mayn mames oygn,
S'hot ir libshaft nit gelozt vern mir a foygl...

Oyfn veg shteyt a boym, shteyt her ayngebogen,
Ale feygl funem boym zaynen zikh tsefloygn...

By the wayside stands a bent tree;
All the birds have flown away from the tree.
Turn toward the west, turn toward the east,
And the rest--turn toward the south,
And the tree is abandoned to the storm.

I say to mama--"Listen, If you don't stand in my way,
Then, one--two, I'll quickly become a bird.
I'll sit in the tree and lull it during the winter,
Comfort with a lovely tune."

And mama says, "No, child," and weeps bitter tears.
"G-d forbid, you might freeze in the tree."
So I say, "Mama, it's a waste of your lovely eyes,
Because before you know it, I'll be a bird."

And mama cries, "Itzik, my Crown, as G-d would want, Take a scarf with you, lest you catch cold.
"Put on your galoshes, It will be a severe winter.
And take your fur hat, too. Woe is me!

"And wear you warm underwear, foolish child,
Lest you become a guest of the dead."
I lift my wing, but it's hard...too many things…
That mama put on her weak little fledgling.

I look sadly into my mama's eyes;
Her love did not allow me to become a bird.

By the wayside stands a bent tree.
All the birds have flown away, deserting the tree…
Track Name: Reyzele
Shteyt zikh dort in gesele, shtil fartrakht a hayzele.
Drinen oyfn boydem-shtibl voynt mayn tayer Reyzele
Yedn ovnt farn hayzl drey ikh zikh arum
Kh'gib a fayf un ruf oys: "Reyzl, kum, kum, kum!"

Gey ikh mir a freylekher, zing un knak mir niselekh,
Her ikh oyf di treplekh shpringen ire drobne fiselekh.
Shoyn arop fun letztn trepl, kh'nem zi lib arum,
Kh'gib ir shtil a kush in kepl - kum kum kum!

Kh'vel dir zogn, Dovidl, zolst aroyf nit fayfn mer.
-- Her, er fayft shoyn -- zogt di mame
Zi iz frum; s'fardrist zi zer.
Fayfn, zogt zi, iz nit yidish; past es bloyz far zey.
Gib a tseykhn prost oyf yidish, eyns, tsvey, dray!

Kh'vel aroyf nit fayfn mer; deroyf gib ikh a shvuele.
dir tsulib vel ikh afile vern frum, mayn tsnuele
Vel ikh vern frum, mayn Reyzl, vi di mame frum,
Yedn Shabes geyn in klayzl. Kum kum kum!

Gey ikh mir a freylekher, zing un knak mir niselekh,
Her ikh, af di treplekh loyfn ire drobne fiselekh.
Vider shteyt fartrakht dos gesl, s'hayzl vider shtum.
Kum tsu mir in kholem, Reyzl, kum, kum, kum!

Standing on the street, a house, tranquil and contemplative
Inside in the attic apartment, lives my darling Reyzele.
Every evening in front of the house I hang around about,
I whistle up and call out “Reyzl, come, come, come!”

So I walk around happy, singing and cracking nuts,
Hearing springing down the stairway her sweet little feet.
Barely off the last step, I take her sweetly in my arms,
I kiss her softly on her sweet head – come, come, come!

Now let me tell you David dear, don’t you whistle anymore!
“Listen to him whistle,” says my mama,
She’s religious, it bothers her so.
Whistling, she says, isn’t Jewish, that’s something for them.
Give me a signal just in Yiddish – one, two, three.

I won’t be whistling up no more, to that I make a little oath!
For your sake I will even be pious my devout dear.
I’ll be pious, my Reyzl, like your mom,
Going to the synagogue every Sabbath, come, come, come!

So I walk around happy, singing and cracking nuts,
Hearing springing down the stairway her sweet little feet.
Again the street is contemplative, the house is still once more.
Come to me in my dream, Reyzl, come, come, come!
Track Name: Shpil Zhe Mir a Lidele in Yidish (Play Me a Song in Yiddish)
Shpil zhe mir a lidele in Yiddish
Dervekn zol es freyd un nisht keyn khidesh,
Az ale, groys un kleyn, zoln kenen dos farsteyn,
Fun moyl tsu moyl dos lidele zol geyn!

Shpil, shpil, klezmerl, shpil.
Veyst dokh vos ikh meyn un vos ikh vil –
Shpil, shpil, shpil a lidele far mir,
Shpil a lidele mit harts un mit gefil!

A lidele on ziftsn un on trern,
Shpil azoy az ale zoln hern,
Az ale zoln zen - ikh leb un zingen ken
Shener nokh un beser vi geven.

Shpil zhe mir a lidele fun sholem!
Zol shoyn zayn sholem, nit keyn kholem!
Az felker, groys un kleyn, zoln kenen dos farshteyn,
On krig un on milkhomes zikh bageyn.

Lomir zingen s’lidele tsuzamen
Vi gute fraynd, vi kinder fun eyn mamen!
Mayn eyntsiker farlang, s’zol klingen fray un frank
In alemens gezang, oykh mayn gezang!

Play me a little song in Yiddish
May it wake joy and no surprises,
So everyone, young and old, can understand it.
Let the song go from mouth to mouth!

Play, musicians, play –
You know what I have in mind and what I want.
Play a little song for me –
Play a little song with heart and feeling.

A song without sighs and without tears –
Play so everyone can hear it,
So everyone can see I’m alive and I can sing
Even better and more beautifully than before.

Play me a little song about peace!
Let there be peace already, let it not be dream!
So nations great and small can understand it,
And not engage in battles and wars.

Let’s sing the little song together like good friends,
Like children of one mother.
My only request is that it out freely and honestly,
In everyone’s song, my song too!