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Bei Mir Bistu Shein (Yiddish: בייַ מיר ביסטו שיין, "To Me You're Beautiful") is a popular Yiddish song composed by Jacob Jacobs (lyricist) and Sholom Secunda (composer) for a Yiddish musical, I Would if I Could (in Yiddish, Men Ken Lebn Nor Men Lost Nisht, "you could live, but they won't let you") in 1932 that closed after one season. Secunda sold the publishing rights to the song for a mere US$30.

The original Yiddish version of the song (in C minor) is really a dialogue between two lovers who share lines of the song.

The song became famous with English lyrics but retaining the Yiddish title, Bei Mir Bistu Shein. However, it also appeared with the quasi-German title Bei Mir Bist Du Schoen (in german: Für mich bist Du schön).

In 1937, Sammy Cahn heard a performance of the song, sung in Yiddish by African American performers Johnnie and George at the Apollo Theater in Harlem. On seeing the response, Cahn got his employer to buy the rights so he (together with Saul Chaplin) could rewrite the song with English language lyrics and rhythms more typical of swing music. He then convinced the still unknown Andrews Sisters to perform the song (recorded November 24, 1937). It became their first major hit, earning them a Gold Record, the first ever to a female vocal group.

A parody of this song, "The Bear Missed the Train", was written by the Smith Street Society Jazz Band in 1964 and became a favorite on Jean Shepherd's radio narratives.[1]

A common soramimi of the title is "My Dear Mister Shane".

Recorded versions

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  • 8 To The Bar

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  • Havana Swing

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  • Isabelle Georges with Sirba Octet

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  • Original Klezmer Jazz Band

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  • Yale's Proof of the Pudding

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Notes

  1. ^ Eugene B. Bergmann, Excelsior, You Fathead!: The Art and Enigma of Jean Shepherd, 2005, ISBN 1557836000, p. 203

External links

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