Apostrophe Now

People often startle when they hear the phrase “Yiddish tango”: What has the heymish language of Ashkenaz to do with the sensual dance of Buenos Aires? But dozens of Yiddish tangos were composed during the 1920s and 30s, when Yiddish-speaking composers and lyricists responded to the Argentine tango that captured the imagination of Europe and North America.

This one, first sung by Molly Picon, was composed by Abraham Ellstein, with lyrics by Jacob Jacobs. Published in 1937, it now seems to foreshadow sorrows to come.

We are in love and I’m filled with joy.
Yet I am afraid that one day I’ll awaken to find you gone.

Hear how my heart begs, forget me not.
In joy, in sorrow, forget me not.
Wherever you go, you take my soul with you.
Your name remains engraved deep in my heart.
Three little words --remember them well:
I beg of you, forget me not

Stephen Varney, piano