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November 24: Bei Mir Bist Du Shein

November 24, 2013

Andrews_sisters2_2466952bThe Andrews Sisters, a close-harmony trio, recorded Sammy Cahn’s English-language version of Jacob Jacobs and Sholem Secunda’s Yiddish song, “Bei Mir Bist Du Shein,” on this date in 1937. It went on to become a worldwide hit and a gold record, the first ever for a female vocal group. The Andrews Sisters became a household name because of the song, which Cahn had first hear sung in Yiddish by African-American performers Johnnie and George, who had been taught the song by Jenny Grossinger when they performed at her Catskills resort. The song was subsequently recorded scores of times, most notably by Benny Goodman and by Ella Fitzgerald, and grossed millions of dollars — but Secunda and Jacobs had sold the rights to the song to Cahn and missed out on their royalties until it went out of copyright in 1961 and the rights reverted to them. In Nazi Germany, the German version of the song was a sensation until its Jewish authorship was uncovered and the song was banned. For some documentary footage of the Catholic/Lutheran Andrews Sisters, look below.

“I could say ‘bella, bella’ even ‘sehr wunderbar’
Each language only helps me tell you how grand you are
I’ve tried to explain, ‘bei mir bist du schein’
So kiss me and say you understand.” —Sammy Cahn and Saul Chaplin