Tuesday, May 5, 2015

A Klezmer Klassic: Bei Mir Bistu Shein

This is a Klezmer classic, written in 1932 for a Yiddish musical called "I Would If I Could." The lyrics are a dialogue between two lovers. The musical closed after a year, but in 1937, an American music producer heard the song performed in Harlem, bought the rights from the two Jewish composers for a mere $30 (big money in Depression America), rewrote all but the first line of the lyrics into English, and persuaded a new girl quartet, The Andrews Sisters, to record it. It went gold, became a world-wide hit and a jazz standard, and over the years earned $3 million—but the original composers couldn't earn a thing on their creation until 1961 when the purchased copyright expired. Proving once again that You Never Know...
Here's the English lyrics to the Chorus part represented on our sheet music.

"Bei mir bistu shein, please let me explain,
"Bei mir bistu shein" means you're grand.
Bei mir bistu shein, again I'll explain,
It means you're the fairest in the land.
I could say "bella, bella", even say "wunderbar".
Each language only helps me tell you
How grand you are.
I've tried to explain "Bei mir bistu shein".
So kiss me and say you understand."

Taken from http://lyricstranslate.com/en/Andrews-Sisters-Bei-Mir-Bistu-Shein-lyrics.html#ixzz3ZI36ildn

Finally, here's a New York group that managed to turn a New York subway platform into a red-hot Swing Club for their performance of our classic. Wait patiently through the 27-second commercial and the group getting themselves down to the subway, then enjoy all the Shake-Jive-n-Wailin' of The Hot Sardines and all their jazzoid friends.


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