Monday, May 04, 2009

Misirlou / Miserlou

I know. Strangest Title Ever. But I like to start the week with something light and fun if possible, and This is That.

Strange title, yes. But you know it, probably by the spelling "Miserlou."

"I don't know it at all," you say? Give THIS a listen. It's a recording titled "Mousourlou," by Greek bandleader Michaelis Patrinos, from around 1930.

Didn't do it for you? How about this sultry version from around 1947, sung in Greek by a crooner named Danai? Here are the lyrics, according to Wikipedia

Μισιρλού μου, η γλυκιά σου η ματιά
Φλόγα μου 'χει ανάψει μες στην καρδιά.
Αχ, για χαμπίμπι, αχ, για λε-λέλι, αχ,
Τα δυο σου χείλη στάζουνε μέλι, αχ.

Αχ, Μισιρλού, μαγική, ξωτική ομορφιά.
Τρέλα θα μου 'ρθει, δεν υποφέρω πια.
Αχ, θα σε κλέψω μέσα από την Αραπιά.

Μαυρομάτα Μισιρλού μου τρελή,
Η ζωή μου αλλάζει μ' ένα φιλί.
Αχ, για χαμπίμπι ενα φιλάκι,άχ
Απ' το γλυκό σου το στοματάκι, αχ.

My Misirlou (Egyptian girl), your sweet glance
Has lit a flame in my heart.
Ah, ya habibi, Ah, ya leh-leli, ah (Arabic:
Oh, my love, Oh, my night‎)
Your two lips are dripping honey, ah.

Ah, Misirlou, magical, exotic beauty.
Madness will overcome me, I can't endure [this] any more.
Ah, I'll steal you away from the Arab land.

My black-eyed, my wild Misirlou,
My life changes with one kiss
Ah, ya habibi, one little kiss, ah
From your sweet little mouth, ah.
I bet you're getting it now.

Here's the version you're likelier to know.

Pretty funny, in some ways. My, rock videos have changed. Dale himself looks like he's having fun, but the band... yikes. Double-yikes on the drummer. He seems troubled. I thought drumming was fun. And - no idea what the saxophonist is doing.

Back to the song. What you may not have known — as I did not know — is that the song is very old, not Amreican, and probably was written in the 1800s. It is (as you see) about an enchanting little Egyptian girl.

But then in the 1960s, a ten-year-old kid challenged Dick Dale (King of the Surf Guitar) to play a song on just one string. Dale told him to come back the next day. Dale was actually Lebanese-American, born Richard Mansour; he thought of music he'd heard at weddings, picked Misirlou/Miserlou, and decided to ramp up the speed. Hence, Miserlou.

Here's a more recent version, by Dale. Music begins at 1:25.

Dinosaur Gardens (which says the Wikipedia article contains many errors)


Soullifter said...

See, Dan, you just keep climbing on our coolness scale every week. You should include the Korla Pandit version, too.

DJP said...

Thanks. B^)

Is that the contemporary singer, big show with a big band and she dances across the stage singing it? I saw that and thought about it. Maybe I'll check it out when I get home and see. I think I thought some might object to her costume.

Mike Westfall said...

Korla Pandit version is played on an organ and a piano! He plays both at the same time.

Solameanie said...

I'm just concerned about the lyrics, Dan. Someone will be making Song of Solomon allusions with in and probably will preach from it Sunday.

(just kidding...cough cough...)

Carol Jean said...

I'll bet my dad could ROCK that on the accordion!

DJP wrote, "Dale himself looks like he's having fun, but the band... yikes. Double-yikes on the drummer. He seems troubled. I thought drumming was fun. And - no idea what the saxophonist is doing."

It's obvious the drummer had bad tabouleh for dinner. He's desperate to hold it all together until he can get to the men's room.

The whole scene reminds me of the time our youth pastor dragged us to a singing engagement at a black church and tried to teach us to sway to the music so we'd fit in. In the end, we were just a bunch of white kids with no rhythm whatsoever. It was contextualization 1.0 - 1981 edition.

As a side note, it's apparent that only Dale and the dancing blond are fluent in Greek.

Kristine said...

Yikes. Watching the first clip of Dale's rendition was....hmm. Interesting.

The 1947 'sultry' version was my fave. I know. Not very cool of me.

DJP said...

I like the Dale version, but I also like that one very much Kristine. It is the one that sticks in my mind; very haunting melody, rendition.

Solameanie said...

Here we go again. Now we're using words like "sultry." If I see someone say "voluptuous melody" I am going to call the Taliban.

DJP said...

Maybe you were kidding, but maybe sultry isn't the word I wanted. I meant kind of haunting... romantic... with a touch of mist, perhaps.

Sultry sounded right. Think I should change it?

Becky Schell said...

That first video made me laugh out loud. Night of the Musical Dead. Twist and Whisper.

DJP said...


Yeah, I don't think I've ever seen rockers looking like they were having less fun.

Well, except for Chaka Khan when she sang at the GOP convention.

Mike Westfall said...

For those of you that are fans of both Jewish music AND instrumental surf music: I recommend this!

Solameanie said...

Yes, Dan..I was kidding. I guess I was chumming the water to see if anyone brought up the goings on in Seattle, then you could clown me for starting it up.

Oh, wait...wrong blog.

(I'm still joshing).

Solameanie said...

Not kidding now, just busting my brain trying to think of a word. All I can come up to describe the feeling you describe is a movie scene. Sort of Casablanca-like, with Ingrid/Ilsa walking off into the fog and Humphrey/Rick watching her go?

Is that it?

Susan said...

Okay, I've only glanced at the first two comments and have yet to read the rest, so I'm not cheating here. Several Greek verses into the 1930's version, I realized that it is the opening theme from Tarantino's Pulp Fiction!!!! Do I win anything???

Susan said...

(I'm asking, of course, because I haven't even cut to the second and third clips you got there, Dan.)

DJP said...

MMike - that rocks.

Susan — I'd say you won our respect and affection, but you already had those!

CR said...

Okay, when I first perused this blog article I said, I was like, whatever, can't be interested in everything someone writes. So, I'm downloading podcasts and I need time to kill, so I say, eh, why not take a close read at this one.

Fascinating...lesson: maybe really read each blog article even if in the beginning I don't think it will interest me!

Susan said...

Wow...that's unexpected. I had no idea I had that. It's definitely not earned. Thanks for the grace! :)

(And Solameanie, would you call the Taliban if I told you guys that a high school classmate of mine once coined the term "voluptuous lovers"? [It was for our team's Shakespeare project on Twelfth Night.] My English teacher was amused but had to correct him for the incorrect usage!)

DJP said...

CRlesson: maybe really read each blog article even if in the beginning I don't think it will interest me!On this blog?


Solameanie said...

No, Susan..I wouldn't call the Taliban. I really was kidding. The only way I'd call the Taliban would be in the sense of targeting their cellphones with heat-seeking missiles.