After posting the “Eating Blue Damson’s with Harry” a few of you asked me about the song I included in the link. The song Tumbalalajka (obviously referring to the instrument of balalajka) is a riddle song seeped in ancient Eastern European tradition, often ascribed to the Jewish community for their love of riddles, although its’ origin is not fully traceable. As part of the process of courting the boy picks a girl to answer his riddle:
“What can grow without the root?
What can burn and never stop burning without a flame?
What can play a song without a fiddle?
What can weep and never shed a tear?” – the boy asks the girl.
If she answers the riddle, they can get married straightaway….the song starts off…
There’s another way to look at “Tumbalalajka” – as a means for young people to explore the mysteries of life and slowly get to know each other…(what a wonderful thought!).
In this particular version sang by the Pressburg Klezmer Band the girl answers the riddle as follows:
“a stone can grow without the root,
love can burn without a flame,
wind can play a song without a fiddle, and,
a heart can weep without shedding a tear”.