This is a unique record by this singer, stage comedienne and film actress. She was popular with her sometimes pretty risqué songs, but being born from Jewish parents, she recorded one song both in English and Yiddish. On this record, made for Columbia on June 20th, 1928, she was accompanied by Ted Shapiro And His Orchestra. The clip contains both sides of this 78RPM record.
Duet by Tom Jones and John Farnham Lyrics: My Yiddishe Mama, I need her more than ever now. My Yiddishe Mama, I'd love to kiss that wrinkled brow. I long to hold her hands once more as in days gone by And ask her to forgive me for things I did that made her cry. How few were her pleasures, she never cared for fashion's styles Her jewels and treasures, she found them in her baby's smiles Oh, I know that I owe what I am today To that dear little lady so old and gray To that wonderful Yiddishe Mama of mine.
The song, in English and ↗Yiddish, plays on stereotypes of the ↗Jewish mother; sadder in the original Yiddish than in the English translation, the mother also implicity symbolizes a sense of nostalgia for the "old world", as well as guilt for having left it behind in assimilating into American society.
In 1925, ↗Jack Yellen wrote one of her most famous songs, "My Yiddish Momme". The song was performed in large American cities where there were sizable Jewish audiences. Tucker explained, "Even though I loved the song and it was a sensational hit every time I sang it, I was always careful to use it only when I knew the majority of the house would understand Yiddish. However, you didn't have to be a Jew to be moved by 'My Yiddish Momme.' 'Mother' in any language means the same thing."
(Image courtesy of the Jacob Rader Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives, Cincinnati, Ohio)
Tucker described the terrible tension of playing for a 1932 French audience that included many Jews. Throughout her performance, they sent notes and called out requests for her to sing "My Yiddishe Momme." Tucker was wary but finally decided to sing the song, feeling that its emotion would touch everyone.
Tucker then began the song in English to a fairly receptive house. However, when she reached verse two, which is in Yiddish, anti-Semites began to boo and other audience members responded with shouts, begging for quiet. Tucker remembered, "The noise was so great I couldn't hear my own voice, nor could I hear Teddy at the piano. I thought: in a minute there'll be a riot. Quick as a flash I turned to Teddy and said 'Switch!' Before the audience knew what the hell was happening I was singing 'Happy Days Are Here Again.' My God, I only hoped they were!"
By contrast, the song was generally well received in Vienna. Tucker was recognized at a record store and asked to sing "My Yiddishe Momme" to an audience that seemed hungry for the images the song evokes. She reflected, "It is a commentary on Berlin in 1931 that... it was 'My Yiddishe Momme' that the Berlin Broadcasting Company asked for. That for the Paris mob!"
Several years after Hitler came into power, Tucker's recordings of "My Yiddishe Momme" were ordered smashed and the sale of them banned by the Reich. The song had the power to evoke a reverence for Jewish culture and a cultural memory of more peaceful times and was thus threatening to Hitler's regime. Shortly after the war broke out, Tucker talked with actor Elizabeth Bergner, a German in London exile, who informed Tucker, "There isn't one of us in Germany who hasn't this record of yours."
The indomitable stage performer Sophie Tucker began singing her classic ballad "My Yiddishe Mama" in 1925, after the death of her own mother. As Antler writes, it's an ode to "ethnic nostalgia" and "the sentimentalized ghetto" at a time when the children of Jewish immigrants were trying to assimilate into the New World. Fittingly, the lyrics are sadder in Yiddish than in the English version that non-Jews would have heard. In translation, here are the last Yiddish lines, full of pining, plus a pinch of guilt:
She would have leaped into fire and water for her children. Not cherishing her is certainly the greatest sin. Oh, how lucky and rich is the person who has such a beautiful gift from God: Just a little old yiddishe mama, my mama.
Thus, Jewish mother-love arrived in America through popular song.
Who knew that feminist anthropologist Margaret Mead had a hand in demonizing the Jewish mother? Mead persuaded the American Jewish Committee to fund research at Columbia University on the European shtetl. Interviews with 128 European-born Jews who had immigrated to the United States demonstrated a range of different family experiences. But the anthropologists who wrote up the study and published it in the 1950s, in frequently cited ↗books and ↗articles, placed a "nagging, whining and malingering" mother at the center of the shtetl family. They reported that these mothers gave their children unshakable love but anchored it in "boundless suffering." They retold this folktale:
"A young man begs his mother for her heart, which his betrothed has demanded as a gift; having torn it out of his mother's proffered breast, he races away with it; and as he stumbles, the heart falls to the ground, and he hears it question protectively, 'Did you hurt yourself, my son?' "
Of things I should be thankful for I've had a goodly share
And as I sit here in the comfort of my cosy chair
My fancy takes me to a humble eastside tenement
three flights up in the rear to where my childhood days were spent
It wasn't much like Paradise but 'mid the dirt and all
There sat the sweetest angel, one that I fondly call
My yiddishe mame I need her more then ever now
My yiddishe mame I'd like to kiss that wrinkled brow
I long to hold her hands once more as in days gone by
and ask her to forgive me for things I did that made her cry
How few were her pleasures, she never cared for fashion's styles
Her jewels and treasures she found them in her baby's smiles
oh I know that I owe what I am today
to that dear little lady so old and gray
to that wonderful yiddishe mame of mine
Tse kimpt nisht besser in der velt
A Yiddishe Momme,
Oy vey ve bitter ven ze felt.
Vie sheyn und lichtig is in hoys.
Ven di mame's doo,
Vie troirig finster vert,
Ven Gott neymt ihr oyf Oylam HaBo
In vasser und fayer
Volt sie geloffen far ihr kind
Nisht halten ihr tayer
Dus iz geviss der grester zind
Oy vie gliklach und reich
Iz der mensch vos hot
Az a shayne matone
Geschenkt fun Gott
Nur an altichke Yiddishe Mamma
Mamma oy mama mein
Nisht halten ie tire,
Dost is geven der greste zin,
O vi gliklaht, on shein is der mench vos hot,
A za shena matona ge shempt fon got,
Vi an altecha yidesha moma
Momma of mine.
Her jewels and her treasures;
She found them in her baby's smiles;
Oh I know that I owe what I am today;
To that kind little lady so old and gray;
To that wonderful Yiddishe Momme,
Momme Of mine.
Ich vil aych a kasheh freygn
Sogt mir ver es ken
Mit velcheh tayere fermeygens
Bentsht Got alemen
Men koyft es nit far kayne gelt
Dos git men nor umsist
Un doch as men farlirt
Dos vi fil trern men fargist.
A tsveyte git men keinem nit
Es helft nit kayn geveyn,
Oy! ver es hot farloy'rn
Der veys shoyn vos ich meyn.
A Yiddishe mameh,
Es gibt nit beser in der velt.
A Yiddishe mameh
Oy vey, VI bitter ven si felt.
Vi sheyn unt lichtig is in hoys
Ven di mameh's do
Vi troyrig finster vert ven Got
Nemt ir oyf oylem habo
Durch vaser unt fayer
Volt si gelofen far ir kind
Nit haltn ir tayer
Dos is gevis di greisteh sind
Oy vi glikech un raich
Is der mensh vos hot
Asa sheineh matoneh
Geshenkt fun Got
Asa altitchkeh yiddishe mameh,
A Yiddishe mameh mayn.
Ver bashikt un bahirmt dos kind
Vi do shvartzapfl fun oyg?
Ver shloft nit durch di lange necht.
Ven es filt ir kind zich shlecht?
Af dem tzu entfern iz nit shver,
Un yeder veys gevis.
Der nomen is undz zeyer tayer:
A mamenyu dos iz.
Ver gliklekh iz nor vi a mameh,
Ven dos kind af di fis zich shtelt?
Ver sholem vil nor, vi a mameh,
Zol shaynen af der velt?
Es zoln bombes mer nit shrekn,
Iz ir grester vunsh .
A mameh vil, dos kind zol vaksn
Un zol zayn gezunt.
1. (Introduction) Ich vill bay aych a kashe freygen, Zugt mir ver es ken, Mit vifl tayere farmaygns, Bensht Gott allamen? Men kriegt dus nit far kayne gelt, Dus krigt men nur im zist, Und der vus hot verloren, Der vays shoyn vus ich mayn. 2. A yiddishe mamma, Nisht du kein besser in der welt. A yiddishe Mamma Oy vey tzis bisser ven zie fehlt, Vie shayn und lichtig tzis in Hois, Ven die mama's du, Vie traurig finster tzvert, Ven Gott nehmt ihr oyf Oylam habu. 3. In vasser und fayer, Vollt sie geloffn fahr ihr kind, Nisht halt'n ihr tayer. Dos iz geviss der greste Zind. Oy vie gliklach und raych Is der Mensch vus hut, Az a tayere matune geschenkt fun Gott, Wie an altechke Yiddishe Mamma, Mamma, oy Mamme mein.
A Yiddishe Momme, Tse kimpt nisht besser in der velt??? A Yiddishe Momme, Oy vey ve bitter ven ze felt.
Vie sheyn und lichtig is in hoys. Ven di mame's doo, Vie troirig finster vert, Ven Gott neymt ihr oyf Oylam HaBo
In vasser und fayer, Volt sie geloffen far ihr kind, Nisht halten ihr tayer, Dus iz geviss der grester zind, Oy vie gliklach und reich , Iz der mensch vos hot, Az a shayne matone, Geschenkt fun Gott, Nur an altichke Yiddishe Mamma, Mamma oy mama mein.
Nisht halten ie tire, Dost is geven der greste zin, O vi gliklaht, on shein is der mench vos hot, A za shena matona ge shempt fon got, Vi an altecha yidesha moma Momma of mine.
Her jewels and her treasures; She found them in her baby's smiles; Oh I know that I owe what I am today; To that kind little lady so old and gray; To that wonderful Yiddishe Momme, Momme Of mine.
Lew Pollack / Jack Yellen - My Yiddishe Momme Sheet Music (score)
«La mamma» Charles Aznavour Paroles: Robert Gall. Musique: Charles Aznavour Autres interprètes: Dalida, Isabelle Boulay ___________________________________
Ils sont venus Ils sont tous là Dès qu'ils ont entendu ce cri Elle va mourir, La mamma Ils sont venus Ils sont tous là Même ceux du sud de l'Italie Y a même Giorgio, le fils maudit Avec des présents plein les bras Tous les enfants jouent en silence Autour du lit ou sur le carreau Mais leurs jeux n'ont pas d'importance C'est un peu leurs derniers cadeaux À la mamma
On la réchauffe de baisers On lui remonte ses oreillers Elle va mourir, La mamma Sainte Marie pleine de grâces Dont la statue est sur la place Bien sûr vous lui tendez les bras En lui chantant Ave Maria Ave Maria Y a tant d'amour, de souvenirs Autour de toi, toi la mamma Y a tant de larmes et de sourires A travers toi, toi la mamma
Et tous les hommes ont eu si chaud Sur les chemins de grand soleil Elle va mourir, la mamma Qu'ils boivent frais le vin nouveau Le bon vin de la bonne treille Tandis que s'entassent pêle-mêle Sur les bancs, foulards et chapeaux C'est drôle on ne se sent pas triste Près du grand lit et de l'affection Y a même un oncle guitariste Qui joue en faisant attention La mamma
Et les femmes se souvenant Des chansons tristes des veillées Elle va mourir, la mamma Tout doucement, les yeux fermés Chantent comme on berce un enfant Après une bonne journée Pour qu'il sourie en s'endormant Ave Maria Y a tant d'amour, de souvenirs Autour de toi, toi la mamma Y a tant de larmes et de sourires A travers toi, toi la mamma Que jamais, jamais, jamais Tu nous quitteras...