Wednesday, September 06, 2006

I love you, Pumpkin. I love you Honey Bunny.

So, I've always loved the opening music to Pulp Fiction. Dick Dale doing "Misirlou". It's hard not to notice the Middle Eastern scale in that song. I've always wondered why a surf rocker would choose that sound.

Looked for the song on iTunes. Believe it or not there are something like 50 versions of the song on iTunes alone. At this point I decided to find out why this song is so popular, so I turned to Wikipedia.

The word "Misirlou" means Egyptian girl. Misr in Arabic is Egypt. I am guessing it is a cognate of the Hebrew Mitzraim. Perhaps Mississippi Fred can elaborate...

Anyhow, this song was debuted in Greece in 1927 and became a runaway success. Numerous covers have been made, from Klezmer to jazz, surf rock to Black Eyed Peas (Pump It).

Check it out if you get a chance...

PS, how can iTunes not have the "Paranoid" album from Black Sabbath?


Blogger Mississippi Fred MacDowell said...

Worth noting: Dick Dale is a Lebanese Arab-American. Thus, the Middle Eastern influence on his playing is unsurprising, sort of like how the "ly ly lys" ended up in Simon and Garfunkel's 'The Boxer.' (You should check out Dick Dale's awesome version of 'Hava Nagila,' BTW.)

As for Misrayim, it is the plural form of Misr and refers to the two regions in Egypt known as Upper and Lower Egypt. Rather than launch into a discourse in which I am woefully unqualified, allow me to link to an excerpt from a book about the influence of Egyptian on the Bible, which discusses the origin and meaning of the name.


The entire book, by the way, can be downloaded at here here

Parenthetically, someone told me an apocryphal story that the Rimnitzer Rebbe heard the song playing at a wedding years ago and said disapprovingly that it "schmecks fun znus," (ie, it "smells" of sex.)

September 07, 2006 5:43 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A number of big bands have not contracted with itunes; if they are big enough they can afford not to. These include Led Zeppelin, ACDC, Black Sabbath & probably others.

September 07, 2006 3:04 PM  
Blogger Noam S said...

Velvel Pasternak in his book "Hava Nagila" has the story of how the song got to be a Gerrer nigun. basically they got it from the Druze when both were taking turns at a kever(I forgot whose) celebrating a yortzeit of a shared ancestor.

September 07, 2006 3:06 PM  
Blogger e-kvetcher said...

Very interesting.

Thanks everyone!

September 07, 2006 7:00 PM  
Blogger Lion of Zion said...

mississippi fred:

"it is the plural form"

is it the plural form or rather the paired form?

September 07, 2006 11:00 PM  
Blogger Steg (dos iz nit der ┼íteg) said...

dual form

September 08, 2006 12:45 PM  
Blogger e-kvetcher said...

MFM, Ari, and Steg,

Can either or all of you please elaborate on the difference between the terms each of you used?

September 08, 2006 1:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow - I actually have "Misirlou" and Mitzrayim listed for an upcoming post. Not sure how much more I have to add now...

September 09, 2006 11:48 AM  
Blogger Dweezil said...

Fred - I really don't know much Hebrew, but I'm trying to learn. Mitzrayim is dual plural, right, meaning "both Egypts"? As opposed to Mitzrim (or Mitzrot) meaning "Egypts"?

September 09, 2006 1:50 PM  

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