Folk song, published in 1912 by Y.L. Cahan. Paying rent and the threat of eviction were always problems, as this song testifies.

Illustration of musical notes from the books


Rent! Oy-oy-oy!
Rent! Oh my God!
Rent, and the policeman,
rent must be paid.

In comes the landlord,
with his fat stick;
and if we don’t give him rent
he’ll take away our beds.

In comes the janitor,
and takes off his hat;
and if we don’t pay any rent,
he’ll hang up an eviction notice.

Why should I pay you rent,
when the stove is broken?
Why should I give you rent
when I have nothing to cook on?

Dire-gelt un oy-oy-oy!
Dire-gelt un bozhe moy!
Dire-gelt un gradavoy,
Dire-gelt muz men tsoln!

Kumt arayn der balebos,
Mit dem grobn shtekn;
Un az me git im keyn dire-gelt,
Shtelt er aroys di betn.

Kumt arayn der struzh,
Nemt er arop dos hitl;
Un az me tsolt keyn dire-gelt,
Hengt er aroys a kvitl.

— Far vos zol ikh aykh gebn dire-gelt
Az di kikh iz tsebrokhn?
Far vos zol ikh aykh gebn dire-gelt
Az ikh hob nisht oyf vos tsu kokhn?

(Bozhe moy = my God
Gradavoy = policeman)

דירה-געלט און אױ-אױ-אױ!
דירה-געלט און באָזשע-מױ!
דירה-געלט און גראַדאַװױ,
דירה-געלט מוז מען צאָלן!

קומט אַרײַן דער באַלעבאָס,
מיט דעם גראָבן שטעקן;
און אַז מע גיט אים קײן דירה-געלט,
שטעלט ער אַרױס די בעטן.

קומט אַרײַן דער סטרוזש,
נעמט ער אַראָפּ דאָס היטל;
און אַז מע צאָלט קײן דירה-געלט,
הענגט ער אַרױס אַ קװיטל.

— פֿאַר װאָס זאָל איך אײַך געבן דירה-געלט
אַז די קיך איז צעבראָכן?
פֿאַר װאָס זאָל איך אײַך געבן דירה-געלט
אַז איך האָב נישט אױף װאָס צו קאָכן?

Song Title: Dire-Gelt

Composer: Unknown
Composer’s Yiddish Name: Unknown
Lyricist: Unknown
Lyricist’s Yiddish Name: Unknown
Time Period:20th century

This Song is Part of a Collection

Mir Trogn Song Book Cover with Illustrations

Mir Trogn A Gezang: Favorite Yiddish Songs

First published in 1972, Mir Trogn A Gezang: Favorite Yiddish Songs was reprinted six more times (in 1977, 1982, 1985, 1987, 1988, 2000) due to popular demand. The songs in this anthology represent a sampling of beloved folk and well-known Yiddish songs, many of which are scattered in various song collections; some appear in very rare and inaccessible collections; and some were never before published. Folk songs comprise about a third of this volume and were selected mainly on the basis of popularity and sometimes for their historic significance. Needless to say, they are only representative of the vast, rich treasure of Yiddish folk material. The selection was made not only on the basis of personal preference, but in the knowledge they are favorites of many who sing these songs. Most of the songs represent the repertoire that was sung at Yiddish summer camps, May 1st demonstrations and at social gatherings. Many songs were introduced to American Jewry by Jewish immigrants who came to the United States after World War II, for whom these songs had been favorites in Poland and other East European communities destroyed by the Nazis.

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