Zog, zog, zog es mir
Tell Me, Say It to Me Already
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Zog, zog, zog es mir (Tell Me, Say It to Me Already), with lyrics by Chaim Tauber, is from Herman Yablokoff and Yitzhak Freidman’s production of their own musical Goldele dem bekers (Goldele, the Baker’s Daughter), which starred Menashe Skulnik, Herman Yablokoff, and his wife, Bella Meisel, at the Second Avenue Theater in New York.
The action takes place in 1940. Some of the names are deliberately Americanized to conform to second-generation immigrant situations, and English words and lines are interspersed throughout. Pauline, the owner of a commercial New York bakery, has been on holiday in Honolulu desperately seeking a husband. She became attracted to a less Americanized Jewish immigrant, Itsik Goodman (presumably a widower), living there with his ailing seven-year-old daughter, Goldele, who cannot walk on her own. As a ruse to get him to New York, Pauline has offered him employment in her bakery and promised that she will find medical attention for Goldele there. Apparently oblivious to her scheme, he has agreed. Meanwhile, he meets Margaret, the bakery foreman’s daughter, who has also come to Honolulu, and they immediately fall in love. He remarks that her name reminds him of a famous Yiddish folksong, Margaritkelekh (Daisies), and he begins to sing the beginning of it, the words of which parallel their own meeting and mutual enchantment. That leads into Ilia Trilling’s own song, in which Margaret, becoming impatient, starts by mimicking Itsik’s singing of those folksong lyrics to a slightly varied but still recognizable tune, and then she launches into her plea: “Tell me, say those words already—why should you be afraid to tell me that you love me?”
The play was not memorable, but it contained at least fifteen songs, a few of which saved the production and even outlasted it. Zog, zog, zog es mir has endured to this day in the Yiddish theater song repertoire.