My Yiddishe Momme
"My Yiddishe Momme" is a song written by Jack Yellen (words and music) and Lew Pollack (music), first recorded by Willie Howard, and was made famous in Vaudeville by Belle Baker and by Sophie Tucker, and later by the Barry Sisters. Sophie Tucker began singing "My Yiddishe Momme" in 1925, after the death of her own mother. She later dedicated her autobiography Some Of These Days to Yellen, "A grand song writer, and a grander friend". Sophie Tucker made `Mama' a top 5 USA hit in 1928, English on one side and Yiddish on the B-side. Leo Fuld combined both in one track and made it a hit in the rest of the world."
The song, in English and Yiddish, sadder in the original Yiddish than in the English translation, the mother implicitly symbolizes a sense of nostalgia for the "old world", as well as guilt for having left it behind in assimilating into American society.
There are several versions of the song, under different names:
- "My Yiddishe Mama": by Yiddish star Leo Fuld (in English and Yiddish)
- "On katseessa äidin": by Annikki Tähti (in Finnish)
- "The Jewish Mother (A Yiddishe Mamme)": by classical violinist Itzhak Perlman
- "My Yiddishe Momme": pop version by Connie Francis, jazz/bossa nova piano version by the Irving Fields Trio
- "A Yiddishe Mama (A Jewish Mama)": klezmer version by the Maxwell Street Klezmer Band
- My Yiddishe Momme (Egy őszhajú asszony) instrumental version by Hungarian guitarist Faragó "Judy" István. Hungarian lyrics by G. Dénes György, sung by Vámosi János.
- My Yiddishe Mama by Yosef Rosenblatt
- Mein Idishe Mame by a Polish singer Hanna Skarzanka
Neil Sedaka covered the song in English and Yiddish in 1966.
There was a Spanish version made in the early 1970s called "Mi Querida Mama" (My beloved Mama); it was sung by singer Nino Bravo.
Tom Jones performed a live version on his 1967 album Tom Jones Live! at the Talk of the Town. He reprised this as a duet with John Farnham first on the Australian television show Hey Hey It's Saturday in 1990, and then on the 2005 CD/DVD album Together in Concert.
French singer Charles Aznavour recorded a French version on 16 March 2003, on his album Plus bleu. Ray Charles performed a short cover version of the song in a fifth-season episode of The Nanny, wherein he plays the fiancé of Fran Fine's Jewish grandmother, Yetta.
Ivan Rebroff sang a German version (Mutters Hände) in 1981.