Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Odessa Mama

After listening to Odessa Mama in class and having the tune stuck in my head for the next couple of hours, I figured it would be a great thing to write about.

Odessa Mama is a Yiddish song that is of Ukrainian origin. Before the Holocaust, it was popular in numerous countries, including the United States. Many notable performers have recorded their own version of this song. As we learned in class, the song is about the people's love for the city of Odessa; it is an ode to everything in Odessa, including the sidewalks, electric lights and hotels, as well as other modern amenities.

The term "Odessa Mama" is used by the people who live there to refer to their city, but ironically the term has criminal roots. There are so many strangers to cheat, con and rob along with so much contraband to steal. This is why over the years, "Odessa Mama" has bred such a criminal. Many port cities world-wide are notorious for having such a large class of criminals; however, there are very few places, including Odessa, that have been celebrated for this fact.

A fun fact that I found was that there is actually a Music Entertainment company called Odessa Mama Music Entertainment. Unfortunately, on the "Odessa Mama" section of their website, it does not give any relation that they have to the original song. Another fun fact is about the image below, which is a monument called the "Odessa Mama Monument." According to http://www.2odessa.com/, this mother is atop three whales and has several babies lovingly cuddled to her bosom. Closer inspection of the babies show they are famous Odessa mayors.

If you are interested in watching another video of the singing of Odessa Mama, sung by Limpopo, the link is as follows: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=er6ELPeUPkU

Below is the English translation of the song! I found this at http://yiddishlyrics.blogspot.com/2007/05/odessa-mama_3272.html Please enjoy, and respond if you have any comments or questions!

Whoever has not been
In the beautiful city of Odessa
Has not seen the world
And knows nothing of progress
Who cares for Vienna of Paris,
They're puddles, jokes, no comparison
Only in Odessa is
A Paradise, I say.

There in a restaurant
They serve you beer
And with it a bite
Of fresh skrumbli
Bashmala and balik
And with them a shashlik
With a good glass of wine -What could be better?

Oh, Mother Odessa,
You're forever dear to me.
Oh, Mother Odessa,
How I long for thee!
Oh, Mother Odessa,
Who can forget you?
Oh, Mother Odessa,
I see you no more.
Oh, Mother Odessa,
I long for you and vow:

Your avenues, promenades
Are light, beautiful.
The cafes, the boulevards,
One can never forget.
The carriages, the gypsies,
The tumult, ta-ra-ram,
The hotels, the young ladies
Still are on my mind.

Oh, Mother Odessa,
You're forever dear to me.
Oh, Mother Odessa,
How I long for thee!
Oh, Mother Odessa,
Who can forget you?
Oh, Mother Odessa,
I long for you and vow:

Ay, ay, ay, ay, ay,
One cannot forget.
Ay, ay, ay, ay, ay,
How I should like to see you again!
Hop tidl dam ti stidl didl dam ti.....

Oh, Odess-Odessa Mother,
You are the most beautiful panorama;
Everyone treasured you dearly.
The cabarets, restaurants,
You will still remember today
Who knows what has become of you?
Odessa, Odessa, I long for you!

1 comment:

Kathryn Esper said...

Thank you for posting the English translation to the song! Understanding the words and motivation for the song leads to greater appreciation.