Yiddish Murder Ballads
Another terrific post from Itzik Gottesman's Yiddish Song of the Week. This one features a recording of Leah (Leyke) Carey, star of the Yiddish stage.
Leyke brings us a Yiddish murder ballad, courtesy of her mother, who was in Zhitomir when the events of the song happened. Bentsi was not such a nice guy, an alfonse (pimp) who was dusted by a couple of his compatriots. Leyke sings Bentsi's tale in an impressive 15 verses.
There's some interesting vocabulary in the song. For example, a shayke is a gang. And ikh hob dir shoyn gefetst (I've done away with you). Stuff you don't use in your day to day casual Yiddish. I imagine. I mean, I don't know you. But I imagine.
Bentsi's turncoat friends are referred to as gite-briderlekh. Itzik translates gite-briderlekh as buddies but notes that it is slang for 'thugs'. I wonder, though, if this is the best translation.
I recall Max Perlman's theater song Ven du lakhst (When You Laugh). He also uses 'gite brider' in a negative sense, but it's not quite thugs. It's more like simply false friends who will abandon you when things are going bad.
ven du lakhst lakhn ale mit dir mit/ ven du vaynst, vaynsti far zikh alayn
gayt dir git feln gite brider nit/ gayt dir shlakht bisti elent vi a shtayn
BONUS: Here's Wolf Krakowski doing Perlman's bluesy lament of the world weary entertainer. That makes one bloody murder ballad of pimpery gone wrong and one reminder of why you shouldn't go into show biz. You're welcome.