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Misirlou

The tune Misirlou has a very interesting history. Originally, a traditional song from the Eastern Mediterranean region, it gained worldwide popularity through Dick Dale's 1962 American surf rock version as an instrumental. More recently, it was featured in Quentin Tarantino’s movie “Pulp Fiction.”

Probably less known are the myriad of other versions as it was very popular internationaly. Originally a Middle Eastern folk song—in the 1920s, ethnic Greek and Armenian communities of the Ottoman Empire diaspora carried it across the Atlantic when they settled in the United States. There are Traditional Arabic (belly dancing), Armenian, Persian, Indian, and Turkish versions of the song. Even Connie Francis did a version with some lovely lyrics and an orchestral "easy listening" version was nicely done by Martin Denny.

Tidbits:

  1. The original Greek lyrics tell of a forbidden love between a Greek (Christian) man and an Egyptian (Muslim) woman. Because of the religious and ethnic differences, the subject was quite risqué for its time!
  2. Although Nick Roubanis is the credited songwriter, he did NOT write the tune. As stated, it was a traditional tune brought over to American by Middle Eastern immingrants probably sometime in the 1920s. Like with many folk songs in the United States, the credit (and the royalties) went to the first person slick enough to register a copyright. In this case, Greek-American bandleader Roubanis recorded a big band version in 1941 and listed himself as the songwriter, and claimed credit and subsequent royalties!

Versions

Martina Eisenreich Quartett
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^ Love this “gypsy” version

Morikan (French)
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Very beautiful!

Martin Denny - Misirlou
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^ Eye Candy!!!

Arabic (sung)
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Old (original version?)
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Misirlou _ Connie Francis
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Desert shadows creep across purple sands.
Natives kneel in prayer by their caravans.
There, silhouetted under an eastern star,
I see my long lost blossom of shalimar.

Ah Misirlou, are the moon and the sun, fairest one.
Old temple bells are calling across the sand.
We'll find our Kismet, answering love's command.

[Heaven will guide us as we go hand in hand
You, Misirlou, are a dream of delight in the night.
To an oasis, sprinkled by stars above,
Heaven will guide us, Allah will bless our love.]
Ah Misirlou… Ah Misirlou...

Further Info

Misirlou - Wikipedia
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Misirlou

“Historical” Essay!
http://www.dinosaurgardens.com/archives/297