Tuesday, August 16, 2011

I sit in the tavern...

While we're on the topic of drinking songs, Semyon Krotsh in Kolomyia sang "Zits ikh mir in kretshme" for AHEYM in 2007. He did not remember all of the verses, but the ones he did sing seemed quite a bit more lighthearted than the lyrics of "Der Furman." He mentioned that he learned the song before the war, in Shtefanesht (Ştefăneşti), Romania, where he was born in 1922.

A different version of this song appears on the Vernadsky archive compilation "Treasure Of Jewish Culture In Ukraine" from 1997. The piece is sung by Arn Shmuel Kahan and was recorded in Proskuriv, Podolia Region, in 1913. Both the mood and the lyrics in this version differ quite a bit from Krotsh's rendering: the melody is more melancholy than upbeat, and in the last verse, the drunken narrator beats his wife with a chair.

Krotsh's version appears below:

איך זיץ מיר אין קרעטשמע אָן דאגות, אָן זאָרג.

דער קרעטשמער איז שיכּור, ער גיט מיר אױף באָרג.

איך מעג טרינקען בראָנפֿן, איך מעג טרינקען װײַן.

איך װעל אַלעס טרינקען, כ'װעל שיכּור ניט זײַן.

װי איך קום נאָר אַרױס בײַ דער טיר,

די גאַסן זײַנען שיכּור, זײ דרײען זיך אַרום מיר.

איך גײ לינקס, איך גײ רעכטס, איך דערקען נישט מײַן הױז.

די גאַסן זײַנען שיכּור, דאָס זע איך אַרױס.

אױ די לבֿנה דו שײַנסט אין גאַנץ אױבן אָן.

אױב דו זאָלסט זײַן שיכּור, װי שטײט מיר דאָס אָן?

I sit in the tavern with no troubles or worries.

The tavern keeper is drunk, he puts it on the tab.

I can drink whiskey, I can drink wine.

I'll drink everything, but I won't get drunk.

As soon as I walk out the door,

The streets are drunk, they spin around me.

I go left, I go right, I don’t recognize my house.

The streets are drunk, I can see that.

Oh, moon, you shine up on high.

If you are drunk, how can that be appropriate?

--Asya Vaisman


  1. A likely source of this song is a Russian romance with a similar tune and lyrics:

    Here is a Wikipedia article about the author: http://ru.wikipedia.org/wiki/Сиротин,_Василий_Иванович

  2. We have had a number of comments about this post and the similar song that exists in Russian. Michail Vasilyev writes:

    "I enjoyed the song and the performance... But while reading the English translation, it suddenly rang a bell! Have you ever heard this romance titled “Улица”?

    Раз из трактира иду я к себе,
    Улица пьяною кажется мне.
    Левая, правая где сторона?
    Улица, улица, ты, брат, пьяна.

    It’s unlikely that the Russian and Yiddish versions to be of the same origin, but the similarity seems amazing. Hope it will be interesting for you!

    Sincerely yours,

    Ilya Levin writes,

    "An interesting Russian version: Here and here.
    А. Дюбюк, неизв. автор - Улица, улица (Цыганская песня, с нотами)"

    Thanks to everyone for your comments! Please keep reading and writing.