You Gotta Have Heart


If you – like Jack Benny – are over the age of 39, you may remember a tune entitled “You Gotta Have Heart,” which was popularized by singer Eddie Fisher. Anybody remember? It went like this:

You gotta have heart,

All you really need is heart.

When the odds are sayin’

You’ll never win,

That’s when the grin should start.


You’ve gotta have hope

Mustn’t sit around and mope.

Nothin’s half as bad as it may appear

Wait’ll next year and hope.


When your luck is battin’ zero,

Get your chin up off the floor.

Mister you can be a hero,

You can open any door.

There’s nothin’ to it but to do it.


You got to have heart,

Miles n’ miles n’ miles of heart.

Oh, it’s fine to be a genius of course,

But keep that old horse before the cart.

First, you gotta have heart!


The song was composed by Richard Adler a person who faced many challenges. Although a prolific songwriter, some of his works took a nosedive, so to speak. His greatest challenge was battling cancer, and this tune may have been written to overcome the terrible disease. The song, which suggests overcoming tsoress (troubles), probably helped him, because Richard went on to live until he was 90!

The lyrics have interesting concepts and here are a few maises (stories) that further embellish the meaning of the lyrics:

You Gotta Have Heart

Yankel and Bracha Sinowitz lived in an interesting house located in an American shtetl (town) called Goyville. In addition to their two children, Sorer and Morer, they had a pet dog named Chiyeh. One day Chiyeh took a bite on a chicken bone and began coughing without letup – not a minor cough, you understand, but a cough that shook the walls of the house.

Yankel took the dog to a veterinarian named John Hunter, who examined Chiyeh and he casually stated that he could either euthanize the dog for a small fee or operate for big bucks – and he didn’t mean deer! “You’ve gotta have a heart!” shouted Yankel, “Operate on my poor Chiyeh!”

The operation was performed and the bone was removed. Chiyeh was the happiest animal on the planet when he left the animal clinic. Yankel had “miles and miles of heart,” because, regardless of the high fee, he chose to spare the life of his pet Chiyeh.

When Your Luck Is Battin’ Zero

 Sam Kupdrayer had a job at the Smith Glass Company that consisted of delivering glass panes to customers. Two persons were required to deliver the glass safely. Unfortunately his coworker was a recently arrived immigrant from the kingdom of Jordan, one Abdul ben Ahnut.

When they shlepped glass, they had to cooperate with one another. But, unfortunately, after the glass was delivered they remembered that they were traditional enemies. One fahrtumult (confused) morning, after a heavy rain, both Abdul and Sam were oysgemahtert (exhausted). They were carrying a large pane of glass up the stairs of a building, and Abdul had a terrific urge to sneeze. So, voss zoll ehhr tawn (what to do)? He sneezed, what else?

The pane slipped from Abdul’s hands, and Sam followed his lead. The pane turned into an assortment of pieces of broken glass. A war of words ensued as each man blamed the other. They cleaned up the mess and headed back to the warehouse. They now faced the head macher (boss) Ignaz Crocker, who lost his cool, slammed the desk with his hand and shouted, “I’ve had enough of you Semites! Both of you are fired!”

Although, they had previously never gotten along, Sam and Abdul now realized that somewhere and somehow they were related. After all, their former boss called them Semites. A miracle of miracles occurred when the two antagonists discussed the incident and invited each another to his home.

Several months passed, and one day a new glass company was formed by the name of, yes, Kupdrayer and Ahnut Glass Works! Their luck was batting zero, and they got up off the floor! Mashiach appeared to be on his way!

When The Odds Are Sayin’ You’ll Never Win

Label A. Feller was nebech a person who lacked good mazel. Doss hayst (that means) that after he made a purchase, something was usually fahrzetst (messed up). If he brought home fish, the fish had a nasty odor. If he purchased a suit, it had a defect, such as a missing pocket. If he bought a tire for his car, it had a crooked rim, and so forth. A real shlumazel.

Label went to shul every morning and, although usually late, one morning he awoke on time. Aah glick hawt mihr getrofen (I’m lucky), he thought. Delighted at his accomplishment, he dressed and headed for the shul. Upon entering the sanctuary, he noticed a problem: no electricity, no lights. The Gas and Electric Company is full of anti-Semites, he thought.

Although the place was dark, Label walked towards his usual seat, his makom kavuah. So what could go wrong? You may ask. Don’t ask, but I’ll tell you anyway. He tripped on a chair that some nudnik left in the center of the floor, fell down, and injured his arm – nisht fahr uns gedacht (it shouldn’t happen to us)!

“Nuts,” uttered Label. “That’s it; no more shul!” and he began yelling for help. Some shul members heard his screams and the lights suddenly went on. Hatzalah was notified, and Label was taken to the hospital.

His arm was x-rayed and, miracle of miracles, there was no break. He went home downhearted with his fahrzetst mazel (bad luck).

Now, Label had been playing the lottery for many years, and his losses totaled big bucks, so to speak. For some mysterious reason, in his bizarre thinking as a shlumazel, it was the time to punish himself again! He notified his gambling broker, Gilmore A. Goniv, and placed a lottery number with him. Miracle of miracles occurred, because he won big!

Gleefully, Label began singing “…When the odds are saying you’ll never win, that’s when the grin should start!” and he was he grinning from ear to ear! He thanked the Ribono Shel Olam (G-d), and a few weeks later, he became the president of the Ahnshey Mazel Congregation.

Ah klal (indeed), to be a mentch, doss hayst (that means) to be fulfilled as a truly good person, you gotta have heart.




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