Video: Rare Leonard Cohen Performance Of Az Der Rebe Zingt – Vienna 1976

Rebbe-ZingtLeonard Cohen performed “Az Der Rebe Zingt” in only nine concerts and never released the song on a recording. A few days ago, this earnest 1976 Leonard Cohen performance of “Az Der Rebe Zingt” in Vienna surfaced on YouTube.

Update: Song Background & Lyrics

In contrast to Leonard Cohen’s almost solemn performance, “Az Der Rebe Zingt” is typically sung as a lively, light-hearted tune (see video at end of the post). There are several variations provided for the lyrics of this Yiddish folk song. The version below and the English translation are adapted from Jane Enkin Music and Story.

Az der rebe zingt (When the rabbi sings)
Zingen ale khasidim (All the hasidim sing)
Tshiri biri bim tshiri biri bom
Zingen ale khasidim

Az der rebe trinkt (When the rabbi drinks)
Trinken ale khasidim (All the hasidim drink)
Yaba baba bay – Lekhayim! Yaba baba bay – Lekhayim! (To life!)
Trinken ale khasidim

Az der rebe lakht (When the rabbi laughs)
Lakhn ale khasidim (All the hasidim laugh)
Ha ha….
Lakhn ale khasidim

Az der rebe veynt (When the rabbi cries)
Veynen ale khasidim (All the hasidim cry)
Oy oy oy oy oy vey’z mir, oy oy… (Oh, woe is me)
Veynen ale khasidim

Az der rebe shloft (When the rabbi sleeps)
Shlofn ale khasidim (All the hasidim sleep)
(shh… yawn… hmmm…)

Az der rebe tantst! (When the rabbi dances)
Tantsn ale khasidim (All the hasidim dance)
Ay didi day didi day, ay didi day didi day
Tantsn ale khasidim

Update: The Performance Venue

This is the story behind the banner [which reads, in English, To stay (here) is solidarity”] Back in the 70’s in Vienna a former slaughterhouse called St. Marx was used as a cultural center for young people. But in 1976 the city council decided to tear it down. So hundreds of young people seized the building and tried to save their cultural center. They were supported by Austrian artists. When Leonard Cohen played a concert in Vienna he heard the story and after the concert he went there to support these people fighting for their cultural center. And this is the end of the story: after 101 days the occupants had to leave the building but the city council gave them a nearby building where they founded a new cultural center called “Arena”.1

Leonard Cohen – Az Der Rebe Zingt
Vienna: June 14, 1976

 

A more traditional rendition by the Ramatayim Men’s Choir, Jerusalem ca be viewed below.

Note: Originally posted Apr 7, 2009 at 1HeckOfAGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

_________________________

  1. From LeonardCohenForum post by stella s. []