Thursday, November 8, 2012

Tumbalalaika Around the World: A New Series


The Yiddish folk love song Tumbalalaika originated in Eastern Europe in the 19th century, but its exact origin is hard to pinpoint. That hasn't prevented it from being sung and played over and over, not only in places where Yiddish songs are sung, but just about everywhere in the world, in vocal and instrumental versions, in cabarets and in the movies.

Just as we have followed the songs Hava Nagila, Adon Olam, Hevenu Shalom Aleichem, and Abanibi as they took different forms as interpreted by a wide variety of singers, musicians, and dancers, we're starting a series today that will bring you many interpretations of this universal courting and love song.  We'll post other versions from time to time over the next few months.

We're starting the series with a classic version sung by famed cantors Naftali Herstik, Alberto Mizrachi, and Benzion Miller with the Neimah Singers in a concert "Cantors; A Faith in Song" recorded in the Portuguese Synagogue of Amsterdam in 2003. Enjoy!

The English translation appears under the video on this page. 

(A SPECIAL NOTE FOR NEW EMAIL SUBSCRIBERS:  THE VIDEO MAY NOT BE VIEWABLE DIRECTLY FROM THE EMAIL THAT YOU GET EACH DAY ON SOME COMPUTERS AND TABLETS.  YOU MUST CLICK ON THE TITLE AT THE TOP OF THE EMAIL TO REACH THE JEWISH HUMOR CENTRAL WEBSITE, FROM WHICH YOU CLICK ON THE PLAY BUTTON IN THE VIDEO IMAGE TO START THE VIDEO.) 



Tumbalalaika - English Translation

A young lad stands, and he thinks
Thinks and thinks the whole night through
Whom to take and not to shame
Whom to take and not to shame

Tumbala, Tumbala, Tumbalalaika
Tumbala, Tumbala, Tumbalalaika
Tumbalalaika, strum balalaika
Tumbalalaika, may we be happy

Girl, girl, I want to ask of you
What can grow, grow without rain?
What can burn and never end?
What can yearn, cry without tears?

Foolish lad, why do you have to ask?
A stone can grow, grow without rain
Love can burn and never end
A heart can yearn, cry without tears