"Tumbalalaika" (Yiddish: טום־באַלאַלײַקע) is a Russian Jewish folk and love song in the Yiddish language. Tum (טום) is the Yiddish word for 'noise' and a balalaika is a stringed musical instrument of Russian origin.
שטײט אַ בחור און ער טראַכט,
(או: שטײט אַ בחור, שטײט און טראַכט)
Shteyt a bokher, un er trakht (also shteyt un trakht)
A young lad stands, and he thinks
While most versions use a shteyn ('a stone') as the answer to "what can grow without rain", some versions use farshteyn ('understanding').
Cultural references and covers
- The song Over and Over by Nana Mouskouri uses this melody.
- The song, "Tumbalalaika (The Riddle)" by Natalia Zukerman is a poetic adaptation of this to English, with the chorus remaining in Yiddish.
- Benny Hill adapted the melody for one of his own compositions, Anna Marie, which he performed on his first special for Thames Television on November 19, 1969.
- The film Khrustalyov, My Car! shows a young Jewish boy singing the song in Russian.
- The song is used in the film Swing by Tony Gatlif.
- The song is used in the play Angels in America: A Gay Fantasia on National Themes by Tony Kushner and the film based on this play. It is sung by the ghost of Ethel Rosenberg to Roy Cohn, dying of AIDS.
- The song is used in the film Prendimi l'anima/The Soul Keeper (2002) by Roberto Faenza.
- The metal version of the song is included in the first Metal Yiddish album AlefBase by Gevolt, released in March 2011
- A pastiche of the song is used in the play The Hamlet of Stepney Green: A Sad Comedy with Some Songs by Bernard Kops.
- The song is included in the album Homenatge a Xesco Boix, a tribute to Xesco Boix. The latter used to play in his concerts for children. Also included in Cançons catalanes de Folk in 1976 (Terra Nostra).
- The song appears in the novel The City Beautiful by Aden Polydoros.
- "Choir takes to Elwood streets with Yiddish song", Australian Jewish News, November 22, 2021
- "Tumbalalaika (The Riddle) performed by Winterbloom". Ourstage. Retrieved 8 December 2015.
- "The Secret of Angels". The New York Times. March 27, 1994. Archived from the original on 10 December 2018. Retrieved 10 December 2018.
- "YouTube film with Tumbalalaika in the movie Prendimi l'anima (2002) by Roberto Faenza". YouTube. Archived from the original on 21 July 2013. Retrieved 14 August 2011.
- "Tum Balalayke". Archived from the original on 2016-03-05. Retrieved 2021-11-24 – via soundcloud.com.
- Polydoros, Aden (2021). The City Beautiful. Inkyard Press. ISBN 9781335402509.