22 October 2008

Music: My Heart Belongs to Daddy

In 1938, Cole Porter wrote "My Heart Belongs to Daddy" for the Broadway musical, "Leave it to Me," introduced by Mary Martin (aka Peter Pan). The song was described by performer Oscar Levant (born to an Orthodox family) as "one of the most Yiddish tunes ever written."

And, if you happen to be a budding poet or song writer, the song offers a rhyme for "daddy" as "fine finnan haddie" (smoked haddock).

Talking about fish: In 1860, a Jewish immigrant in the UK - Joseph Malin - combined Irish fried fish and potatoes to create British fish and chips. It is not known in what newspaper Malin first wrapped his dish. According to Wikipedia - which is sometimes accurate:

Deep-fried fish and deep-fried chips have appeared separately on menus for many years[citation needed], though potatoes did not reach Europe until the 17th century. The originally Sephardi dish pescado frito, or deep-fried fish, came to the Netherlands and England with the Spanish and Portuguese Jews in the 17th and 18th centuries.[citation needed] (History credits the Portuguese with introducing the dish to Japan: see tempura.[citation needed])

The dish became popular in wider circles in London and South East England in the middle of the 19th century (Charles Dickens mentions a "fried fish warehouse" in Oliver Twist, first published in 1838) whilst in the north of England a trade in deep-fried "chipped" potatoes developed. The first chip shop stood on the present site of Oldham's Tommyfield Market.[9] It remains unclear exactly when and where these two trades combined to become the fish-and-chip shop industry we know today. Joseph Malin opened the first recorded combined fish-and-chip shop in London in 1860 or in 1865 while a Mr Lees pioneered the concept in the North of England in Mossley, Lancashire in 1863.[10]

Back to the music.

Here's a 1939 recording of Valaida Snow's voice, with an interesting bit of Holocaust-connected history, in the English version, as well as a Yiddish version by Lisa Fishman (no date given).

Fishman translated the son into the Yiddish "Mayn Hartz Iz Nor Far Daddy" with the help of Zalmen Mlotek of the New York Yiddish Theater and performs it klezmer style.

Attendees at the 2006 New York IAJGS International Conference of Jewish Genealogy were treated to an entire evening of song by Mlotek, one of the conference's major highlights. Those fortunate enough to be sitting in the right place heard the famous Steve Morse singing along in fluent Yiddish. Who knew?

Fishman's version is here.

A 1939 (Decca) English original version sung by Valaida Snow, who also plays trumpet, is here.

Born in Chattanooga, Tennessee in 1903, Snow was part of a musical family with her sisters Alvaida and Lavaida. She turned professional at the age 15, and during the 1920s was part of musical reviews such as the Sissle-Blake show "The Chocolate Dandies" that toured the US and went overseas. She toured with the "Blackbirds" and then the famous Noble Sissle-Eubie Blake musical show "Rhapsody In Black", and in the 1930s, made feature films for black audiences.

In 1939, she went on an extended tour of Europe - perhaps not the best time to do that - with her all-girl orchestra. In Denmark, the Nazis imprisoned her in the Wester-Faengler concentration camp for almost two years until she was freed in an allied forces prisoner swap.

Although she returned to New York, the psychological and physical trauma meant she was never the same, although she tried to regain her career as an arranger, vocalist and trumpet stylist. In June 1956, she died of a cerebral hemorrhage backstage at New York's Palace Theater.

Snow shocked the US with her somewhat eccentric behavior. Orchid was her favorite color (her Mercedes, her outfits, her pet monkey's outfits and her chauffeur's livery).

Enjoy both versions of the song!

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