Song Library‎ > ‎

Tum Balalaika

What a beautiful song! And in a minor key, too -- common for Yiddish music, uncommon for typical Western children's songs.
The video below is accurate to the lyrics and tune, but I also highly recommend this video with Pete Seeger and Ruth Rubin.



Tum Balalaika
טומבאלאלייקא

Shteyt a bocher, shteyt un tracht,
tracht un tracht a gantze nacht.
Vemen tsu nemen un nit far shemen,
vemen tsu nemen un nit far shemen.

Chorus:
Tum-bala, tum-bala, tum-balalaika,
Tum-bala, tum-bala, tum-balalaika
tum-balalaika, shpiel balalaika
tum-balalaika, freylach zol zayn.

Meydl, meydl, ch'vel bay dir fregen,
Vos kan vaksn, vaksn on regn?
Vos kon brenen un nit oyfhern?
Vos kon benken, veynen on treren?

(Chorus)

Narisher bocher, vos darfstu fregn?
A shteyn ken vaksn, vaksn on regn.
Libeh ken brenen un nit oyfhern.
A harts kon benkn, veynen on treren

(Chorus)

English Translation
Yiddish - PLAY BALALAIKA


A young lad is thinking, thinking all night
Would it be wrong, he asks, or maybe right,
Should he declare his love, dare he choose,
And would she accept, or will she refuse?

Chorus:
Tumbala, tumbala, tumbalalaika,
Tumbala, tumbala, tumbalalaika
tumbalalaika, play Balalaika,
tumbalalaika - let us be merry.

Maiden, maiden tell me again
What can grow, grow without rain,
What can burn for many years,
What can long and cry without tears?

(Chorus)

Silly young lad, why ask again?
It's a stone that can grow, grow without rain,
It's love that can burn for many long years,
A the heart that can yearn and cry without tears.

(Chorus)