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Ginger - a lurid Yiddish Song

11 May 00 - 04:47 PM (#226652)
Subject: Ginger - Dzhindzher - Yiddish song
From: Joe Offer

My friend Mrs. Lev came across this song in Mark Slobin's Tenement Songs: The Popular Music of the Jewish Immigrants. Most of the songs in the book have both English and Yiddish lyrics, but not this one. Might anybody have a tune and the Yiddish lyrics for this song? Thanks.
-Joe Offer-
(from a broadside printed by Sani Shapiro of New York)

Verse 1
This song is called ginger; I sing it quickly, with ginger.
It'll give you ginger, since ginger's the best thing.
It's very hard to live without ginger; whoever doesn't have ginger isn't living.
Wherever you go, everywhere you just hear:

Ginger, whoever's got ginger, is somebody today.
Girls who have ginger are all right,
Since boys creep around looking for ginger, a girl with ginger.
With a lot of powder and paint.
At the North Pole full of puffs, a face with ginger, full of bluffs
Since ginger's the best thing.

Verse 2
A rich man of fifty, dyes his hair every day;
His face has a toothless mouth, and he can hardly walk.
Although he's old and dead, he marries a young girl.
He gives her money without end, since he's looking for:

Ginger, a drop of ginger.
He calls her darling dear;
Oy vey does she give him ginger - he makes way for her.
This old codger gets his walking papers because he doesn't have ginger.
He's already old and weak.
And for his money, on the sly, she gets a boy with a lot of ginger
Since ginger's the best thing.

Verse 3
My cousin has a soda stand, fixed up pretty and grand.
She has countless customers that only drink their ginger at her place.
All the standkeepers of the street know how to ask for her ginger.
She makes endless money, since everyone runs to her:

For ginger, oy, oy, ginger
They run without end.
Whoever tries her ginger stays her customer,
And my cousin is no greenhorn, she gives everyone ginger
Since she understands the trade.
She knows her business like a hero, gives ginger and takes money,
Since ginger's the best thing.

I take it from the context of the book that the song comes from the 1890's or so. Slobin says
The last stanza of "Dzhindzher" is perhaps the most offensive, since it touches on the nearly taboo topic of Jewish-American prostitution. Of all the subjects that have been tacitly declared off limits to public commentary, this is perhaps the most sensitive. Yet we have already seen...that it is not possible to discuss immigrant entertainment without at least mentioning the unmentionable. Michael Gold's Jews Without Money (1930), a description of the Lower East Side of his youth, parallels the accounts available in memoirs and fictional sources of his time: "Pimps infested the dance halls. Here they picked up the romantic factory girls who came after the day's work. They were smooth story-tellers. they seduced the girls the way a child is helped to fall asleep, with tales of magic happiness. No wonder East Side parents wouldn't let their daughters go to dance halls. But girls need to dance." For Gold, music was an important part of street life. He describes Italian organ-grinders and other readily available entertainment, and he keenly recalls the singing of Masha, the blind prostitute: "Many nights I fell asleep to the melodies of Kiev she sang to her seven-string guitar. we could hear it in our home. She sang between 'customers.'" Masha served as a living bridge between the low music of Russia (for many of her romantic tunes must have been songs of the Kiev streets) and the parallel tradition growing in America.
Anybody have more information on this song, or related songs?
-Joe Offer-

11 May 00 - 04:59 PM (#226657)
Subject: RE: Ginger - a lurid Yiddish Song
From: MK

I would suggest (and don't have a clue to guide you in a search) that you check out some early Sam Levinson recordings...which are musical and also comedy based with a lot Yiddish.

My parents loved his stuff and of course it was shared with me growing up, and I guess the late Allan Sherman was sort of a successor. There is a great Allan Sherman album with a lot of Yiddish in it as well, called "Allan Sherman and His Friends - More Folk Songs".

Not even sure if either of the people, exist today on CD.

13 May 00 - 09:07 PM (#227699)
Subject: RE: Ginger - a lurid Yiddish Song
From: GUEST,Jacob B (at home)

I asked about the song on a Jewish Music discussion list. Here's what I've learned so far.

"Don't know about the songs "ginger" and I don't know how related this is, but Shmuel Lehman and Pinkhes Graubard published many Yiddish songs collected from Polish Jewish prostitutes, pimps and criminals. One such song can be heard on the recently released "Treasures of Jewish Culture in Ukraine", recorded in 1929 (by Beregovsky and collegues). The singer, Sima Guralnic sings "di shtot Beynazeres" [Buenos Aires]. It is a rough field recording, barely intelligable, but she is a wonderful singer"

13 May 00 - 09:17 PM (#227704)
Subject: RE: Ginger - a lurid Yiddish Song
From: Joe Offer

Hi, Jacob - please take a look at the Swallow Song / Los Bilbilicos thread (click) and see if there's anything you can add.
-Joe Offer-

22 Feb 10 - 12:47 AM (#2846370)
Subject: RE: Ginger - a lurid Yiddish Song
From: mousethief

MK: "Not even sure if either of the people, exist today on CD. "

I have a box set that purports to have everything Allan Sherman ever released. Maddeningly it doesn't contain "Allan Sherman and His Friends - More Folk Songs". They shouldn't be allowed to call it anything that hints it's complete if it isn't. Now I'm going to have to go record-hunting. Thanks for letting me know!