Hu-tsa-tsa 05:12

Liner Notes

Fischel Kanapoff’s salty 1924 couplet song Hu-tsa-tsa is a quintessential vaudeville vehicle in which the sets of couplets—always subject to alteration, variation, addition, or substitution, even on the spot, as well as to augmentation by dance and other stage shtik—frame spoken jokes or comic monologues to a muted, vamped orchestral accompaniment. The title Hu-tsa-tsa is meaningless, although the published Yiddish title in Hebrew characters, O-tsa-tsa, carries the connotation “That’s how it is!” But, inexplicably, the subtitle in Roman characters reads hu-tsa-tsa [utzatza], which is how the song has always been sung.

Little is known about Fischel Kanapoff other than that he was a popular variety-show entertainer who wrote many independent Yiddish songs that once had currency (though this is probably his best-known and the one most frequently sung), as well as lyrics to similar songs by others.

By: Neil W. Levin



I’m going to sing a song for you now, hu-tsa-tsa …
I believe this song is very good, hu-tsa-tsa …
If the song pleases you, hu-tsa-tsa …
I’ll be making you happy, hu-tsa-tsa …

It’s a cold night, frosty, raining, and hailing. A wind
is blowing in all directions. It’s slippery. I wouldn’t even
wish such a night upon my enemies. At a bakery,
there’s a knock on the door,
And the baker runs to answer the door.
Before him stands a Jew, soggy and frozen, and then
he says: “Mister baker, would you be so kind as to
give me one roll with caraway seeds.”
The baker looks at the man and asks, “Mister, what
are you, crazy? You went out in such weather,
such cold, such rain and snow just for one roll with
caraway seeds? Tell me, are you married?”
The man replies, “What do you think? My mother
would have sent me out on a night like this?”

I went into a restaurant, hu-tsa-tsa …
And ate very well, hu-tsa-tsa …
The food was very tasty, hu-tsa-tsa …
But at night it woke me up, hu-tsa-tsa …

At the cemetery I see a Jew lying prostrate on a grave.
He’s beating his chest, pounding and sobbing; he’s
crying hysterically: “Oy, oy, why did you die, why? Why
did you die?” I go up to him and ask, “Mister, who
died?” He answers me: “My wife’s first husband.
Oy, why did you die, why?”

My neighbor says she’s in love with me, hu-tsa-tsa …
So I went over to her house, hu-tsa-tsa …
She gave me quite a welcome, hu-tsa-tsa …
But her husband walked in right in the middle,
hu-tsa-tsa …

Two old Jews are sitting in a steam bath.
One stirs from his place. “Oy, oy, oy, oy …
And he picks up his cane and says again,
Oy, oy, oy, oy …
He slowly draws himself to his feet: “Oy, oy, oy, oy …
until finally he’s standing upright.
The second one says to him,
“Moshe, where you’re running?”

I was sitting on the upper bench of the steam bath, hu-tsatsa …
Singing with all my might, hu-tsa-tsa …
With boiling water some Jew, hu-tsa-tsa …
Scalded me all over, hu-tsa-tsa …

My grandma bumps into her doctor while taking a
stroll. The doctor says, “Grandma dear, how’re you
doing?” She says: “Oy, doctor, oy, doctor,
I don’t feel very well. I ache everywhere from my head
to my feet; I can barely walk or stand.” He says to her,
“So, come see me at my office.” She replies, “Perhaps
next week, when I feel a bit better.”

True story, true story:
On the way here I see an old Jew sitting on the curb.
He’s weeping bitterly: “Oy gevalt! Oh God, what
should I do? My people, save me!” I run up to him
and ask, “Hey Gramps, what happened? Why are you
crying? Is life that bad?” He says, “No, on the contrary,
things are good for me. Oy, are things good for me!
Last week I got married to a twenty-eight-year-old girl.
I’m already ninety-three. Oy, things are good for me!
She’s so pretty, so good, my bride. She does everything
for me. She cooks for me, she cleans for me, she makes
hanky-panky with me. It’s heaven on earth. Oy vey,
things are good for me. Things are so good for me.…”
I ask him, “So what are you crying about?” He replies,
“I can’t remember where I live!”

I’ve now finished my song, hu-tsa-tsa …
And if it you want some more, hu-tsa-tsa …
If the song is to your liking, hu-tsa-tsa …
Then you can all do “hu-tsa-tsa” …

ikh zing far aykh itst a lid, hu-tsa-tsa.
ikh gloyb dos lidl iz zeyer gut, hu-tsa-tsa.
oyb dos lidl vet gefeln, hu-tsa-tsa.
vel ikh aykh tsufridn shteln, hu-tsa-tsa.

s’iz a kalte nakht, a frost, es regnt, es hoglt.
a vint blozt in ale rikhtungen. s’iz gliktshik,
a nakht af mayne sonim gezogt gevorn.
in a bekeray hert men a klap in tir.
un der beker loyft tsu un enfent di tir.
un s’shteyt far im a yid, durkhgeveykt un farfrorin un zogt der yid:
mister baker, zayt azoy gut un gib mir eyn bulke mit kiml.
kukt af im der beker un er fregt: reb yid, vos bistu, a meshugener?
bist aroys in aza veter, aza kelt,
aza regn un shney far eyn bulke mit kiml?
zog mir, ir zent a farhayrate?
enfert der yid: vos den?
mayn mame volt mikh aroys geshikt in aza nakht!

in a resteran bin ikh arayn, hu-tsa-tsa.
un hob gegesn zeyer fayn, hu-tsa-tsa.
dos esn hot mir gut geshmekt, hu-tsa-tsa.
bay nakht hot dos mikh ufgevekt, hu-tsa-tsa.

afn besoylem ze ikh a yid, un er ligt af a keyver,
un er klapt un er shlogt un er khlipet. er veynt histerish:
oy, oy, farvos bistu geshtorbn, farvos? farvos bistu geshtorbn?
gey ikh tsu tsu im un ikh freg: reb yid, ver iz geshtorbn?
enfert er mir: mayn vaybs ershter man.
oy farvos bistu geshtorbn, farvos?

mayn shkheyne zogt zi hot mikh lib, hu-tsa-tsa.
ikh kum arayn tsu ir in shtub, hu-tsa-tsa.
zi hot mikh fayn ufgenumen, hu-tsa-tsa.
iz ir man in mitn ongekumen, hu-tsa-tsa.

tsvey alte yidn zistn in a shvitsbod.
eyner rirt zikh fun ort: oy! oy, oy, oy…
un er nemt a shtekn un nokh a mol zogt: oy! oy, oy…
er tsit zikh langsam tsu di fis: oy! oy, oy, oy…
biz er shtelt zikh oyf.
zogt der tsveyter:
moyshe, vu loyfstu? vu?

in bod bin ikh gezesn hoykh, hu-tsa-tsa.
gezungen mitn gantsn koyekh, hu-tsa-tsa.
mit heyse vaser hot a yid, hu-tsa-tsa.
mir in gantsn opgebrit, hu-tsa-tsa.

mayn bobe treft ir doktor af a shpatsir.
un der doktor zogt: bobishe, vos makht ir?
zogt zi: oy, doktor, oy, doktor,
s’mir nit gut. s’tut mir vey umetum
fun kop biz di fis, koym vos ikh gey, kum vos ikh shtey
zogt er tsu ir: nu kum arayn tsu mir in office.
entfer zi: efsher nekste vokh ven ikh fil zikh a bisl beser.

emese, emese mayse…
afn veg aher ze ikh an altn yid zitsndik af a trotuar.
un er veynt bitere trern: oy gvald!
reboyne-sheloylem, vos zol ikh ton? yidn ratevet!
loyf ikh tsu un ikh freg, zeydenyu, vos iz
geshen? farvos veynt ir? iz dos lebn azoy shlekht?
zogt er, neyn farkert. s’mir gut. oy s’mir gut.
letste vokh hob ikh khasene gehat mit a meydl
fun akht un tsvantsik yor.
ikh bin shoyn alt dray un nayntsik. oy s’mir gut…
aza sheyne, aza gute, mayn kalenyu. zi tut alts far mir,
zi kokht far mir, zi roymt far mir, zi makht mit mir kotsenyu-motsenyu…
s’mir a ganeydn af der velt.
oy vey s’mir gut, s’mir gut…
freg ikh im: to vos-zshe veynt ir?
zogt er: ikh gedenk nisht vu ikh voyn!

hu-tsa-tsa, hu-tsa-tsa…

gendikt hob ikh shoyn mayn lid, hu-tsa-tsa, hu-tsatsa.
un oyb es makht aykh apetit, hu-tsa-tsa, hu-tsatsa.
oyb ir vet dos lidl glaykhn, hu-tsa-tsa, hu-tsa-tsa.
kent ir ale aleyn makhn, hu-tsa-tsa, hu-tsa-tsa.



Composer: Fischel Kanapoff

Length: 05:20
Genre: Yiddish Theater

Performers: Bruce Adler, Tenor;  Barcelona Symphony-National Orchestra of CataloniaElli Jaffe, Conductor

Date Recorded: 06/15/2001
Venue: Sala Sinfonica del Auditori (A), Barcelona, Spain
Engineer: Hughes, Campbell
Assistant Engineer: Kornacher, Bertram
Assistant Engineer: Weir, Simon
Project Manager: Schwendener, Paul

Additional Credits:

Arrangers: Zalmen Mlotek / Paul Henning
Orchestrator: Paul Henning
Yiddish Translations/Transliterations: Eliyahu Mishulovin & Adam J. Levitin
Arrangement © Milken Family Foundation


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