A Song to Begin
Words © 2004 by Leonard Lehrman & Helene Williams
Melody © 2004 by Gerhard Bronner

Here is our song to begin, our song to begin,
We thought that we ought to have a song to begin
In which I get to flounce and show my raiment.
Please don't confuse the bounce with entertainment!
It's just a song to begin, to say, How've you been?
The water is fine, and so why don't you come in!?
We're recording, so try not to cough.
Won't you please turn your cell phones off?
And let's check the levels on the mike(s) so the needles don't pin!
Testing 1-2-3 Testing A-B-C Testing X-Y-Z Testing 1-2
Shalom/Hello out there! We're on the air!
And that's our song to begin!

Old McDonald's (Alte McDonalds)
by Gerhard Bronner & Peter Wehle
English Translation by Leonard Lehrman © 1993

Everywhere the music that you hear seems written for a child -
Youth must have its hour and cannot wait.
But with all the music through the ages that has been compiled,
Here's a nursery rhyme that's up-to-date:

Old McDonald's bill of fare - ee-i-ee-i-oh!
If you buy it, just beware! - ee-i-ee-i-oh!
'Cause you can't begin
to guess what's ground in-
to the "genuine"
ground beef - or is it skin?
And wherever it's been
you'll never know! - ee-i-ee-i-oh!

When it's time for lunch or snack - ee-i-ee-i-oh!
Treat yourself to a Big Mac - ee-i-ee-i-oh!
You can rest assured the aroma is what lingers.
You don't need a fork - it tastes better with your fingers
'Cause at Old McDonald's nothing's lost -
Everything gets tossed!

The menu doesn't give much choice,
and anyway it all tastes just the same.
Commercials have to fan the flame -
The huffin' an' the puffin'
for Egg McMuffin!
The young are most susceptible to the McDonald culture cult
And cover everything over with ketchup -
It's to retch up!

Old McDonald's makes us blanch - ee-i-ee-i-oh!
Every day a brand new branch - ee-i-ee-i-oh!
Bringing hamburgers to the Muscovites
Where the profit volume attains new heights
While the Poles think up how to best compete
Making use of plastic instead of meat.
But with Old McDonald's recipe
Nothing comes for free.

Old McDonald's everywhere - even in your home town
And the culinary arts are slowly winding down.
Now it won't be long before people throng
For a meal that's all starch
'neath the Golden Arch-
es and that's all there'll be
'cause we'll all agree
That to use a plate
is just out of date!
And McDonald's showed us the way
To a brave, new, high-cholesterol day!
Skeptics, critics - all died out
'Til there's no one left to say,
No one left to scream and shout:
"Throw that junk food out!"

Everything Stereo
(Alles in Stereo)
by Gerhard Bronner & Peter Wehle
English Translation by Leonard Lehrman © 1983

Friend, what is it you seek?
Climb a high mountain peak--
Frequent no place other people go--
Not the chair-lift--No,
Just walk, yes, stroll on over to a bluff
'Til you've gone far enough
To hear birds replace the noise of the street--
'Til your ear escapes
From the honking of horns and the screeching of brakes--
Until, far away from all of the hustle and bustle,
There, on your right, a brook is beginning to rustle!
Now you've everything stereo, and living color,
All air-conditioned and Hi-Fi!
No extra charges--no mikes, no antennas--
Nothing but unalloyed pleasure--to satisfy!

What do you say, Friend?
A mountain climb does nothing for you?
You'd rather stay at home, would you?
You'd rather see it on TV?
Well, yes, that's true, my friend,
TV is quite a boon--
It even brings you theater in your living room.
But you know what? Go ahead! Just watch, and you'll see
Everything stereo, and living color,
All air-conditioned and Hi-Fi!
Gigantic screen, telefoto-lens closeups--
Graphics! The works! It's the latest that money can buy!

If you're alive today
Sex will sweep you away!
Are your hang-ups over sex so strong?
Well, the wave will whisk you along--
You're bombarded with it--
Everything ex-pli-cit--
More and more you'll find you like what you get
On the Internet,
But some things can still entrance even a scoffer:
Why do you need a virtual or literal Erector Set?
You know what? Look at a woman--she has more to offer...
Namely: everything stereo, and living color,
All air-conditioned and Hi-Fi!
No pangs of guilty conscience as well--
Do what the film shows--au naturel--
No props from the shelf, all do-it-yourself!
Friend, once you've tried it you'll ask for a lifetime's supply!
Everything stereo--and living color--

Just A Normal Country - Almost... Not Quite (Aber nur fast)
by Gerhard Bronner & Peter Wehle
partly adapted by Fredi Durra
further adapted & translated into English by Leonard Lehrman © 1984

Packing your bags to visit Israel, pack something witty in--
Don't pack a Frommer or a guidebook: pack a Gideon.
'Cause what the Bible says to look for is there still....
You may not believe it now, but eventually you will.
Now you can see all Yerushalayim, no matter what you believe:
Is it really the capital city, or is that Tel Aviv?
No matter--what will you think of Israel at first sight?:
Well, it's not comic, and it's not tragic,
Isn't it just a normal country? Almost... not quite!
Look at the names of firms: who runs the railroads or the mines?
So many Cohens, Pollacks, Wittenbergs and Rosensteins!
What can a visitor expect among such folks?"
Nothing to listen to here except Jewish jokes!
In a cafe two people are talking and seem most intent.
You understand quite clearly both sides of the argument:
East vs. West; "and do you think they'll really fight?"
It isn't so comic, in fact may be tragic,
But isn't it merely academic? No, not quite.
They keep building squares and sphericals, 'spite the desert and no matter what.
If you don't believe in miracles, then in Israel you're a nut!
Once there were peddlers who went bargaining from door to door.
Now there's just work--no peddlers haggle with you anymore.
Those moving hands which spoke of tsuris and of guilt,
Now they move stones...and behold: something's built!
So many soldiers in Jerusalem: it's like Berlin.
Only making fun of them or dodging the draft is hardly "in."
So many jokes about it somethow don't seem right:
No, the army's not comic, though it's also not tragic,
Isn't it just a normal army? No, not quite.
Every voter knows much better... how to spend the country's billions.
When 3 million vote for president, choices number... in the millions!
Go to Parliament and see: Meshuganah you gotta be--
All this taking and this giving.
But take another look; think twice: This mishigas is really nice...
For freedom means much more than merely living!
When you are done at work in Israel, you're only partly through:
Before you go home there's something else which you have got to do.
Yet no one loses his sense of humor or of fun.
What is important... just has to be done.
Nobody knows where all this planting and this building will lead.
They only know you gotta go forward if you're gonna succeed.
To them the burdens they bear each day seem to be light:
Israel is not comic, nor is it tragic,
It's almost a pariah since it's brought no Messiah.
It's just a normal miracle... almost... not quite.
Dear friends, about this Bronner-Wehle-Durra song you've heard tonight:
Now go visit Israel; don't disparage or tout it;
Until you have been there, what can you know about it?
See Israel and you'll understand--almost... not quite.
Everything's Relative (Alles ist relativ)
by Gerhard Bronner & Peter Wehle
English translation by Leonard Lehrman © 2007

I regard discoverers with a great deal of awe:
Marx discovered Capital, and Moses - The Law.
Freud discovered Sex to be the greatest Joy there is -
When what is his is hers, and what is hers is also his.
And now of course let's quote
What Albert Einstein wrote:

"Everything's relative, relative, relative."
That's what Einstein said - and yet that's not always the case!
For you will often find that many a behind
's relatively prettier than a face!

With a pretty girl the time goes very quickly by.
When you are in love, the hours always seem to fly.
But when you are standing in a crowded rush-hour bus,
Then an hour seems to be a hundred minutes plus!
And what do you think then?"
"It's got to be the end - soon..."

Everything's relative, relative, relative.
All depends on how you look at it - and whence.
Black can be sometimes blue; straight may be askew -
Which can make for quite a difference.

I have got two friends. The first one tells me, "This I know:
In this world the only thing that counts is having dough!"
"But wait!" the other says. "It's health that counts!" And that's true, too.
So each one has a point, you see, and each a point of view.
I'll ask you if I might: "Which one of them is right? Nu?"

All that is relative, relative, relative.
What's important? Body, bank account, or soul?
How can you keep your health -
How can you keep your wealth -
If your every pocket's got a hole?

Someone throws a bomb because at something he is pissed.
Half the word despises him and calls him "terrorist."
But then the other half the world pays him for it, and
Suddently the "terrorist"'s a "freedom-fighting man"!
And if he mentions oil, then watch the world embroil! A-i-a-a! Allah! Allah!
All that is relative, relative, relative.
All depends on how you look at it, you see?
Step up and be a man. First Iraq, and then Iran.
Oh, if only Einstein could have known how it would be
Then maybe he'd have made some other great discovery
Than relativity!
A Little Freedom (Ein bisserl Freiheit)
by Gerhard Bronner
American English Version by Leonard Lehrman © 1991-2006

You cannot have a little freedom.
Once people have a little, then they want the rest.
For liberties, once you concede 'em,
You can't rescind them in the East - or in the West!
Not piece by piece, nor segment by segment -
Once people have their freedom, then it's here to stay.
You cannot be a little pregnant.
Once it is there then it won't simply go away.
Yes, you can drink a little
And even stink a little
Dan Quayle/George Bush can think a little too.
Some of us can even be a little dumb - Naturally excepting me and you!
You can partake a little
And you can fake a little
All while you make your little buck
Or if you get caught red-handed
You can say thou thought you'd planned it
well, But for a little rotten luck.
Then you can eat a little crow,
Make a little dough,
Get a little high and sometimes feel a little low.
You can collect a little fee,
Climb a little tree,
Bu one thing that you cannot be is just a little free!

You cannot have a little freedom.
Once people have a little then they want it all.
There's only so much you can bleed 'em,
Before they break down every big and little wall!
Oh, you can be a great idealist
Yet be politic'lly a little incorrect.
And you can be a sober realist
Yet have a little trouble with benign neglect.
Yes, you may sweat a little
And you may fret a little
Money you vet can take you far.
And if you're in government, the tab gets paid As if you were a little movie star.
Yes, you can laugh a little
And blame your staff a little
For every gaff remove a perk.
Interest rates hike a little
Or you can strike a little,
Though in many places that won't work.
You've always got to keep in view
What you know is true:
Freedom means the whold shebang, not just one crumb or two.
Every refugee says to you and me:
The one thing that you cannot be is just a little free!
I Stay on the Sidelines (Ich steh' immer draußen)
by Gerhard Bronner & Peter Wehle
English Translation by Leonard Lehrman © 1982

I stay on the sidelines, slightly out of view.
I just can't enjoy myself like other people do.
No one do I envy, nor do I accuse.
Just that everything I get I always seem to lose.
It's real nice that I am able to observe and try to help,
But still nicer if for once I'd something for myself--
But I stay on the outside and ask nothing more
From the people inside, who'd just laugh me out the door.
It's nice to be a helper, as I've been--
I even play at bingo for my best friends.
Though when I do, I never seem to win.
No wonder that I'm so depressed--
By Lady Luck I'm never blest--
I'm not what anyone would dare invest in.
What's troubling me can only be expressed
As though in my wounds one were to apply salt:
My best friends importune and everyone seems to suggest,
As I sometimes think, it all is simply my fault.
But I stay on the sidelines. I don't make a fuss.
If I do, I'm sure to hear: "No--you can't play with us!"
So I just stay outside. Orders I've obeyed,
Though the overtime that I do never will be paid.
Sometimes there's a problem, and I see how it can best be solved
And I say so, but I'm just told: "Don't you get involved!"
So, I stay on the sidelines--I won't grasp at straws.
Even for my songs it's someone else who gets applause.

A Yiddisher Cowboy
by Gerhard Bronner
English Translation by Leonard Lehrman & Helene Williams © 1997

How did I get here? Once my tale is told
You'll say that there's no fate that could be stranger -
Six weeks in steerage, and lo and behold:
Suddenly I've become a Texas Ranger!
How did I ever become a Texas Ranger?

All my shoes are boots. All my shirts are plaid.
I've always worn 'em even when the pants tore.
At home they used to be all the clothes I had -
We bargained for 'em in a second-hand store.

I only wish that Mom could see me now -
Out on the trail from Frisco to El Paso.
Still, I don't feel at home. Can't tell you how
To shoot a forty-five or twirl a lasso!
Or was it twirl a forty-five and twirl a lasso?

Sitting round the fire every night and day
I hear the coyotes crying in the distance.
I can't understand anything they say
And wonder if they're Jews or if they're Christiance!

One walked right up to me, said "Howdy, pard!"
I jumped and nearly knocked over the kettle.
Learning this cowboy stuff is really hard.
It's nothing like we talked back in the shtetl.
No, nothing like we learned back in the shtetl.

One time an Indian maid in a saloon
Proposed to me in tones of black and blueish.
I pictured our honeymoon,
Then turned her down: Her mother wasn't Jewish.
No, I'm afraid her mother wasn't Jewish!

The Man of the Future (Der Mensch wird a Maschin')
by Gerhard Bronner & Peter Wehle
English Translation by Leoanrd Lehrman © 1982

It won't be long before a man is simply a machine--
The single parts already are for sale.
There aren't any organs that can't fit into the scheme,
Just humor--where all efforts seem to fail.
A laser beam can cut your working time in half.
Technology's a blessing--there's no doubt.
But there's no apparatus which can make you laugh,
So laughter's something we must do without!
It won't be long before a man is simply a machine--
By quantum leaps our knowledge has increased,
And laughter's so passé it's nearly vanished from the scene--
Too bad it once distinguished man from beast.
There still are records where one can read the word "cabaret."
My son asks what it means, so I look it up for him and find:
"A way that people used to laugh their troubles away."
I look under "laugh" or "laughing," which is so defined:
Once when dentists pulled teeth, some were humane
And used "laughing gas"--so there was no pain.
I say to my son: There's no more laughing today,
It's just obsolete, as is cabaret.
Even a dentist's obsolete! No tooth decay!
It won't be long before a man is simply a machine
And dentistry's a hokum that's been quashed:
For breakfast, water; lunch is oil; and dinner: gasoline,
And once a week you get your body washed.
A lube is a massage supplying every want.
Your pressure's checked, your fluids and your tread.
At night there's the garage; your day's spent at the plant
Where everybody just stares straight ahead.
It won't be long before a man is simply a machine--
It's coming, even though we're not there yet:
The motor runs, the system works--it's all become routine!
Just laughter we can practic'lly forget.

Bein' American's Tough (Schwer ist's ein Ami zu sein)
by Gerhard Bronner & Peter Wehle
English Translation by Leoanrd Lehrman © 1984

I'm an American, in case you hadn't noticed.
Maybe I'm tunnel-visioned, still at heart I'm focused--
Though you have no idea--not even the remotest... how
Bein' American's tough.

"You pay de bill!" That's what they think--if they don't holler!
"You got de bucks!" It makes me hot under the collar.
Even the Schilling's doing better today than the dollar!
Bein' American's tough.

We're instantly recognized on arrival:
We're expected to act "the Pan American Way."
Every TV film, ever series revival
Just confirms every lousy old American cliché:

What is America? A land of love-ins and binge-ins
Controlled by the Mafia and Coca-Cola Incorp.!
Yep, that's America--still full of Cowboys an' Injuns--
That's what the camera shows, not to mention all the Yankees now in Europe!

Got a cold that's severe?
See a shrink--lie on the couch until you're rested
Or freak out on some speed!
Drink a few kegs o' beer,
Love your mother, watch your father get arrested!
Everything Puritanical,
Sexually somewhat manic 'll
Be accepted in the USA,
Wouldn't you say? Concede?
Ah yes, but where's it lead?

Underdeveloped countries' needs are so compelling,
We give them iron, steel--and coal to heat their dwelling...
And then the same at half-price back to us they're selling!
Bein' American's tough!

So that our losses won't extend for generations
We have to up the customs duties regulations.
And then it's we who are destroying the wealth of nations!
Bein' American's tough!

If we are generous, then our motive's malicious;
Giving or taking's "speculating," so what can ya do?
If we're cautious, then we're called avaricious...
And the worst is that actually: both are sometimes true....

We are so swift, we eat the egg before it hatches.
We play with fire like children, and the only ctch is
We think that everybody else has got wet matches--
Bein' American's tough! Bein' American's tough!
A Man for Each Season--Easily Disposed Of (Der Wegwerf-Mensch)
by Carl Merz & Peter Wehle, arr. Gerhard Bronner
English Translation by Leonard Lehrman © 1986

We save today. We save on energy and time and care.
We don't save money, we eliminate repair.
Production's fast. Rewards are there
for those finding ways of accelerating it.
We save on quality by - eliminating it!
Market research shows the time is rife
for disposability, not long product life:
Paper bags to throw away,
Paperbacks to throw away,
Paper plates and cups and silver made of plastic.
Wash and eat or wear it - it's fantastic!
And just for you: Underwear you can eat too!
Doesn't last a day.
Just throw it away.
Patching doesn't pay.
Once it has been used, it is garbage - easily disposed of.

We save today. We save on giving time and care.
And soon it won't just be wash-and-wear-and-eat-and-drink-and-then-throw-it-away.
The marketing has already begun.
The motto is: Something for Everyone!
And soon the search for something useful and cheap 'll
Lead from disposable things to disposable people!
"For a few pennies you can now buy disposable people!"
Technologically we're almost there!
Disposable people maintain obscurity!
And they need no Social Security!
Well-inspected, guaranteed for ethnic purity!
Nowadays one needs someone dependable,
Useful and expendable.
When he's had his day,
Mincing doesn't pay -
Just thrown him away.
Once he's been used up, he is garbage - easily disposed of.