“Kad Ja Podjoh” is a “sevdalinka” from Bosnia-Herzogovina in the Balkans. The song tells the tale of a young man who, carrying a small white lamb, travels to the section of Sarajevo known as Bentbaša to seek the girl he loves. Sevdalinkas, also known as “sevdahs,” are slow, rich, harmonious Bosnian songs that often tell melancholic songs of love. Traditionally, sevdalinkas were performed by women, and most often a capella.
Like many sevdahs, “Kad Ja Podjoh” is ancient and of unclear origin, though, also like many sevdahs in this historically multi-ethnic part of the world, it shares a melody with a song by Sephardic Jews. Check out this gorgeous version of “Kad Ja Podjoh” in the video below and compare it to the Sephardic song, “El Dio Alto.”
Lyrics of the All Around This World version
Kad ja podjoh na Benbasu, na Benbasu na vodu, ja povedoh b’jelo jagnje, b’jelo jagnje sa sobom.
When I went to Benbasa, to Benbasa for water to drink, I took a lamb, I took a lamb, I took a small white lamb with me
When I went to Benbasa, I looked for my love, she was standing in the window. I said, “Love, I will return.”
Kad ja podjoh na Benbasu, na Benbasu na vodu, I took a lamb, I took a lamb, I took a small white lamb with me.