Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Four versions of "Misirlou"


















Here are four recordings of Nicholas Roubanis' Misirlou, beginning with Freddy Martin's 1948 big band version. Hard to choose a favorite from these--The Cardinals' performance, maybe. Or Martin's. Or Herman's, possibly. Actually, Grant's is nice, too. Hm....

The Cardinals are maybe a bit out of place, vintage-lounge-wise, but what the heck.

http://box.net/public/lee/files/918630.html Misirlou, Freddy Martin and His Orchestra featuring Stuart Wade, vocal, and Barclay Allen, piano. (1948)

http://box.net/public/lee/files/918629.html Misirlou, Woody Herman and His Orchestra featuring Woody Herman, vocal. (1941)

http://box.net/public/lee/files/918628.html Misirlou, Harold Grant and His Orchestra (1941).

http://box.net/public/lee/files/918631.html Misirlou, The Cardinals (1955).

Enjoy!

Lee

17 Comments:

Blogger wyneken said...

Whoa, Lee -- thanks for "Misirlou"! I've got a modest collection of versions of this great tune, and also of "Caravan," which for some reason is connected in my mind. Classics of proto-exotica, perhaps. My iTunes playlist consisting solely of these two songs now has around 100 tracks. (My son calls this the Dreaded 2-Song EP.)

I've also been really enjoying your ongoing campaign to deflate Raymond Scott.

cheers
stav

4:59 AM  
Blogger Lee Hartsfeld said...

Stav,

Thanks for the nice words! Glad to add a couple of new (?) "Misirlou" versions to your collection. I'm hoping to run into Harry James' recording sometime--that's got to be a memorable one.

I think "Caravan" uses the same modal scale--not 100 percent sure. I don't want to go from memory, as that's always risky! But it's a minor scale with a flattened second, like the "Misirlou" mode, and the I/bII relationship cries "Exotica." It's probably the primary melodic and harmonic Exotica cliche. To Western ears, anyway.

Hm--have I cracked the "Exotica" code? I could become rich!!

As you probably know, we're locked into diatonic relationships, ear-wise, and the flattened second just doesn't fit in. Which is why it sounds so cool, of course.

Glad you're enjoying the Scott series--it's been a fun investigation. Most of the information is new to me, since I'd never delved very far into popular music of the 1930s. I knew that Scott wasn't the lone, mad genius his fans want him to be, but I really didn't know he was so... ordinary. It figures, frankly. What I want to find out now is just when the cult of Scott began--I suspect it predates even Irwin Chusid's efforts. There are no new myths, after all.

Lee

4:43 PM  
Blogger Paul F. said...

Wow, this song has always been one of my favorites, and to hear how the song began is just amazing. Thanks for these posts (great site by the way)

8:13 AM  
Blogger SwaG! said...

"Hm--have I cracked the "Exotica" code? I could become rich!!"

Don't forget the key portion of the formula: The bird, frog and insect impersonations. And the half-nekkid Polynesian wannabe chick on the cover.

I'm looking to collect at least a 100 versions of "Cumana" ...

8:19 AM  
Blogger Lee Hartsfeld said...

Paul f. and swag,

Thanks! Of course, no matter how many non-surf versions I've heard, "Misirlou" still sounds "right" in its Dick Dale treatment--which I first heard courtesy of the Beach Boys' cover on the "Surfin' USA" LP.

Yes, I forgot about the Martin Denny aural and audio details. Very careless of me!

I assume you have Percy Faith's 1949 RCA version of "Cumana," which I posted a while back (not sure if the file is still up).

Thanks for reading and listening!

Lee

5:29 PM  
Anonymous Buzz Dixon said...

Thanx! Love both your sites. Just this morning I played the 4 versions of Misirlou you posted followed by the Esquivel cover then closed it off with Dick Dale. Yowza! As good as everybody else was, he nailed it and made it forever his!

Keep up the good work!

4:22 PM  
Blogger Lee Hartsfeld said...

Thank you, Buzz!

Yes, there's something about Dale's version--the way he makes it sound as if he came up with it himself while messing around on the guitar. The four-notes-to-one routine really works wonders.

Lee

10:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank You For This 2 Versions (Of 4 Who You Have Here To Download)Who I Take It To My Collection Of ''Misirlou'' or ''Miserlou'' Versions....I Thing I Am The Biger Collector From This Song...I Have Over Of 300.....Thank You Again...............''George''

9:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

its wrong thats this version from 1948 is the begining....i have the firsr version 1931 and the name was mousourlou..after in 1938 roumbanis change in misirlou or miserlou as someone known and start the history,,i have another 3 or 4 versions before 1948 (2 of them was from Greek Woman singers and the copies are in 78 rpm vinyl.....

8:03 PM  
Blogger Gurcan Aral said...

I do not seem to be able to access your MISIRLOU songs.
Any suggestions?

10:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This song is actually originally a popular Greek rebetiko song that was first performed by either Tetos Demetriades or the Michalis Patrinos Rebetiko Band in Athens, Greece in 1927. The song became hugely popular in rebetika clubs in Greece. In the 1930s Patrinos also released a recording in NYC and in 1941 Greek American music instructor Nick Roubanis released a jazz instrumental arrangement of the song were he fine tuned the key and the melody, giving it the "oriental" sound that the song is associated with today. After Roubanis many more muscians started playing. In the 1960's Dale made it into an international hit with his guitar solo.

9:10 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This song is actually originally a popular Greek rebetiko song that was first performed by either Tetos Demetriades or the Michalis Patrinos Rebetiko Band in Athens, Greece in 1927. The song became hugely popular in rebetika clubs in Greece. In the 1930s Patrinos also released a recording in NYC and in 1941 Greek American music instructor Nick Roubanis released a jazz instrumental arrangement of the song were he fine tuned the key and the melody, giving it the "oriental" sound that the song is associated with today. After Roubanis many more muscians started playing. In the 1960's Dale made it into an international hit with his guitar solo.

9:11 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Got Pope, Need No Bart charliepatseas@yahoo.com Flushing NY

The Holy Father gone to Turkey to redeem and consecrate the Greeks,
so don't need no more soviet temples. Don't need no gyro blimpie Bart
when got a regular Pope without the diner attitude. My pop kept
hitting momma with a skillet on the head. Friends ended up in the
hospital after their pop beat them. Pops got drunk and ruined my
first car. Killed two cats and a dog, thrown out the window.
Neighbor drowned the canaries in ouzo, lit, ate them. Ma overdid
whip so she could give less pie. All our stuff came pilfered, with
logos. Greeks overcook all meat so no one knows is bad. Another
banned tenants flushing toilet paper. Waiters inpune sanitation
because "dirty is natural and healthy." Priests just answered "behave,
respect, tradition!" Now priest comes "no intercommunion!" Where was
he when we needed him to protect us from our crazy parents? Don't
sell me "educated Greeks" because we know all them Trojan Horse
cheated on the exams. Besides it's just TV repair school. Remember
all those jailed old disco Greeks, tax cheats to "protest" Jerome Ford
stopping the Trojan Horse in Chyprious? We can't get good jobs
because no one trusts Greeks, because of Trojan Horse. They always
faked reading Greek. That's why we borrowed regular Catholic books
instead of read Greek. Sure, we sacrifice to Greek myths three times
a year to please yiayia, and she's nun the wiser when we go to regular
Catholic Mass on Sundays when she bummed from bouzaki dances. Ain't
need no more Bart, just the regular Pope. That's why we all married
regular Catholic when we grew up. So they can trust us.

4:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My grandfather's name was Nick Roumbanis. I never knew him, as he died before I was born. He,was however, a San Francisco grocer, not a musician. Does anyone out there know of him, or any of his California relatives? I am wondering, also, if there is some family connection to the musician of the same name.

10:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The song “Misirlou” (“Misir” meaning “Egypt” in Arabic, and the Greek suffix “lou” meaning “girl”) is most likely a cover version of an Egyptian song titled “Bint Misr” (“Egyptian Girl” or “Girl of Egypt”) composed by Sayyed Darwish {1892-1923}and released on record in 1919 on the Mechian label. Darwish was a furiously prolific Egyptian composer who died at 31 in 1923, and is one of the most influential figures in modern Arab music. He befriended and employed many Greek session musicians available at that time. He also wrote tunes with Greek lyrics and in Greek style (Nezar Mrouhe; Sayyed Darwish, Major Arab Music Pioneer).

The Misirlou melody was carried out to the rest of the world by the multi-cultural inhabitants of Cairo and Alexandria where Darwish lived. In the late 19th century up until 1960, both these Egyptian cities were bustling cosmopolitan communities that attracted every kind of ethnic group around the Mediterranean Basin. There were Italians, French, Greeks, Turks, Jews, Lebanese, British and others living side by side and enjoying a free and culturally vibrant lifestyle. Greek inhabitants [possibly (Pitraikis) or (Tetos Demetriades) or (Michalis Patrinos)] and others probably took Darwish’s tune and other melodies from Egypt back home and recorded their own versions with localized lyrics. In the absence of copyright laws, such unattributed borrowing was common.

The tune appears to have been brought to the United States by Greek immigrant Nick Roubanis in the 1930’s. The original American copyright is to N. Roubanis, 1934 for the Greek lyrics and music and assigned to Colonial Music Publishing Co. of New York City in 1941. The song is identified on the recording as” Misirlou, Arabian Serenade,” indicating the Arab origin of the tune.
Dick Dale explains his influences here and where he got his Misirlou from.
http://www.america.gov/st/washfile-english/2006/september/20060914165844ndyblehs0.0821802.html

6:50 PM  
Anonymous Greg Brown said...

Sorry guys - but the correct turn of events is as such:

I can't speak to the borrwing of the song from an Egyptian tune but it is highly probable.

Nicholas Roubanis composed the song in the 1920's by either his own hand or as was proposed earlier through an Egyptian melody. Tetos Demetriades recorded the song for Columbia circa 1928 (56079-F). Mike Patrinos recorded the song a few years later at about 1930-1931. It then was recorded again by Demetriades for RCA Victor on the Orthophonic label at approximately 1937-1938 and once again for Standard in 1945. There were also versions recorded in Greece as well most notably by Danai Stratigopoulou. The song became so popular that many of the big bands in the States recorded the song.

Nicholas Roubanis was a composer of primarily church music aimed at taking Byzantine church hymns and westernizing them for the church choirs of the 1930's - 1940's etc. By using western notation and adding western influence he was able to allow Greek Americans born in the states to read music for their church choirs. His arrangements have fallen into somewhat obscurity as the move towards stricter Byzantine scales has come into use.

12:33 PM  
Blogger jekoontz said...

Anyone have any specific leads on the reported prototype 'Bint Misr' by Sayyed Darwish? I have looked for such a song but can't find it.

7:02 AM  

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