Robert and Molly Freedman Jewish Music Archive

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Ikh Bin A "Boarder" Bay Mayn Vayb (I Am A Boarder At My Wife's)

Performer: Aaron Lebedeff (1873-1960)
From a 2-record set, Aaron Lebedeff On 2nd Avenue, issued in 1968 by Collector's Guild CG66614
Freedman Catalog # L-02(e)

Audio Clips:

    Excerpt (10 seconds)
    .aiff format, 217 KB .wav format, 56 KB
    Full Selection (2 minutes, 57 seconds)
    .aiff format, 3,813 KB .wav format, 976 KB

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About the song:

The words and music were written by Rubin Doctor (1882-circa 1940), a period composer of popular Yiddish theater songs. It was revived in an Off-Broadway musical, The Golden Land, which opened in 1982. The title translates to "I Am A Boarder At My Wife's" and it tells the story of a man who divorced his wife but moved back in to enjoy the comforts of home without the complications of marriage.

About the performer:

Aaron Lebedeff - the Maurice Chevalier of the Yiddish stage - was one of the top song-and-dance men of the Yiddish theater. He was born in White Russia and moved to New York in 1920. A star of the Second Avenue theater district for 16 straight seasons, his exuberant delivery of this sort of material is considered to be without peer. Ever adorned in a straw hat and impeccably tailored clothing, the dapper Lebedeff had a youthful appearance that lasted well into his 60s. He penned many of his own songs both in English and Yiddish. His Yiddish lyrics were so idiomatic that one reviewer said they "virtually defied translation. . . with a humor that is difficult to render into English."

(Click on image of Yiddish text to view enlargement.)

Ikh bin shoyn vider 'singl'
Punkt 'zoy vi a yingl,
Mit mayn vaybl hob ikh zikh geget.
Gedenkt hob ikh tsu 'mufn,'
A 'rum' gezukht tsu shlofn,
Hot mayn vaybl mikh ibergeredt:
--Vos darftstu zukhn glikn,
In fremde 'rums' zikh shtikn,
Un zayn aleyn un redn tsu di vent,
Blayb do iber punkt vi fri'r
Zay a 'border' yetst bay mir.
Vi a fremder tsol ikh ir dem rent.

Ikh bin a 'border' bay mayn vayb,
Au gut, ay voyl, ay gut,
Mener, iz dos a tay'rer 'dzhab'
Ay gut, ay voyl, ay gut.
Zi 'atendet' mikh mit ales,
Ven ikh kum fregt zi keyn shayles,
Ikh bin a 'border' bay mayn vayb.

Ikh zog aykh yetst oysdriklekh
Az ikh fil zikh gliklekh,
Beser als a 'border' eyder man.
Ikh darf mayn vayb nit hitn
Un onkumen in mitn,
Ven der 'butsher' brengt dos fleysh arayn.
Ikh bin gants fray fun zorgn,
Ikh darf nit layen, borgn,
Nit arbetn un brengen ir dos gelt.
Nor tsayt ikh bit in 'bord' bay ir,
Iz mir gut gor on a shir,
Ik es un trink nor
Un ikh bren a velt.

Es iz a fargenign,
Ales ken ikh krign,
Vi a fremder 'border' bay mayn vayb,
Ikh bin gornit keyn griner,
Un yedn tog nokh 'diner'
Leyg ikh zikh tsu azoy tsum tsayt-fartrayb.
Oy, frier flegt zi mir sheltn
Un iberkern veltn
Gor mit a fremdn 'border' in mayn shtib,
Nor tsayt ikh bin in 'bord' bay ir,
Iz zi azoy gut tsu mir,
Es kost mir bilik un zi hot mik lib.


I am single again, just like a bachelor, I've divorced my wife.
I thought of moving and looked for a room to sleep in.
But my wife convinced me: -- Why look for bargains and suffocate in strange rooms and be alone and talk to the wall?
Stay here just like before.
Be a boarder now with me. So I pay her rent like a stranger.

I'm a boarder at my wife's.
It's so good, so pleasant!
Men, it's great! She gives me everything.
When I come home, she asks no questions.

I'll tell you now quite frankly that I feel fortunate.
Better to be a boarder than a husband.
I don't have to guard my wife and come in the middle when the butcher brings in the meat.
I'm free of worry. I don't have to borrow or lend, nor work and bring her the money.
From the time that I've become her boarder, it's good for me without an end.
I eat and drink and I enjoy life.

(Click on image of sheet music to view enlarged version.)