Isaac Bashevis Singer
My Attorney Bernie
Blossom Dearie


Subject: A slight Ralphian correction, please!

In your review of Isaac Bashevis Singer and The Lower East Side you wrote:

"Late in life, Bendit Pupko got rich. To paraphrase Blossom Dearie's My Attorney Bernie, 'Someone told him to buy, he bought; they told him to sell, he sold.'"


  1. The song was written by Dave Frishberg;
  2. There is no line in the song remotely like "Someone told him;"
  3. The song's narrator loses all his money through his attorney's advice.

Lyrics below.

--- Larry Bolef

My Attorney Bernie
Words and Music by Dave Frishberg
I'm impressed, with my attorney Bernie
I'm impressed, with his influential friends
He's got very big connections
and I follow his directions
Bernie knows his way around
and so I always do what Bernie recommends.

I am blessed, with my attorney Bernie
I'm impressed, with the way he runs the store
He's got Dodger season boxes
and an office full of foxes
It's amazing all the different things
your average guy might need a lawyer for.

Bernie tells me what to do
Bernie always lays it on the line
Bernie says we sue, we sue
Bernie says we sign... we sign.

I'm in touch, with my attorney Bernie
In a clutch, he can speed right to the scene
and if I'm locked up in the jail
with just one phone call for my bail
he said to call his club collect
or deal directly with his answering machine

When I dine, with my attorney Bernie
He buys wine, from the rare imported rack
That's cause Bernie is a purist
not your polyester tourist
Bernie waves the glass around awhile
then takes a sip and always sends it back

Bernie tells me what to do
Bernie always lays it on the line
Bernie says we sue, we sue
Bernie says we sign... we sign.

I admire, my attorney Bernie
I admire, any guy who knows his stuff
Sure we blew a couple ventures
with a counterfeit debenture
But you win a few, you lose a few
and like Bernie says you keep on hanging tough

Thanks to you, my attorney Bernie
Thanks to you, I'm considered well-to-do
Sure I made out like a bandit
Just exactly like you planned it
But like Murray my accountant
told me yesterday, I owe it all to you.

On the dotted line.

Our reviewer replies:

It may have been written by Frishberg, but according to Yurgin Gotyh, that guy we used to listen to in the afternoon on CBC Vancouver --- back in the dear old days of C-Band broadcasting --- Blossom Dearie "made it her own."

I said "to paraphrase." The word means that we can play with any phrase, make it anything we want, something we have always been fond of doing.

And if you study the last line of the song as you should have learned in you high-school English class, it is ambivalent. The CPA may be saying it is all owed to Bernie, or he may be saying that it is all due to him.

You may think you are a rationalist, so you prefer the former. We prefer to think we are romantics, so we prefer the latter.

--- Ignacio Schwartz
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