Thursday, June 18, 2009

Misirlou



This came to my attention through a conversation Mr. Steenbeck had with a friend, but I found it interesting, and it seems to tie into the Beach Boys discussion through a surf-rock connection. If you'll listen to this early surf-rock tune, you'll hear remarkable similarities to middle eastern music. A bit of (sorry, Aba) wikipedization revealed that the blandly named Dick Dale was originally called Richard Monsour, and that he had a Lebanese father and a Polish mother. He was influenced by his uncle, the Oud player. He used non-western scales. (and he played the guitar upside down, because he was left-handed.) This song, his big hit, was originally performed by a Greek Rebetiko band, a style that has Turkish influences. The song refers to a muslim Egyptian woman, and a cross-faith romance.

I think these connections are fascinating. They became obvious once they were pointed out to me, but I'd never heard them before in the music.

10 comments:

goneforeign said...

Steen: I had a good friend in LA called Dick Monsour, also Lebanese, I almost bought his Pasadena house. But he didn't play gtr. I love Dick Dale, he was/is a much more interesting aspect of surf music.

Japanther said...

interesting post Steen.

Whilst being no expert, i'm a bit of a surf guitar/rock fan and have several compilation albums (plus lots of early Beach Boys and Trashmen etc), including 2 different versions of Misirlou. I'd never thought about it that way before, but like you say, they seem obvious when pointed out. Thanks for giving a bit more depth to an old favourite tune!

ejaydee said...

Of course to me that song will always mean Pulp Fiction (sorry Steenbeck). I could still probabaly recite the line just before the song comes in.

ejaydee said...

Probabaly?

Shoey said...

Saw Dick Dale a few years back - amazing player. Trumps the warblings of the Beach Boys by a mile IMNSHO.

CaroleBristol said...

I can play this.

Great tune and it always impresses people.

Helps to have an echo pedal.

steenbeck said...

I'd love to hear that, Carole!

and I'd forgotten the Pulp Fiction connection. But of course, now it all makes sense.

tincanman said...

I get a giggle every time I see you refer to hubby as Mr Steenbeck. You've said you like to cook dinner together and share a bottle of wine and catch up on the day, and I can just picture the two of you (I know what you look like, but have had to make up my own mental picture of Mr Steenbeck; combovers are today's afros, I guess):
Mr Steenbeck: Hi honeybunny, how was your day?
Mrs Steenbeck: It was another rewarding day of stay at home child enrichment Babycakes. How was your day at whatever it is you do?
Mr Steenbeck: Fulfilling and personally satisfying Sweetiepants. I did rid the world of all known diseases, but I'm afraid there wasn't much money in it. I'm afraid I brought nothing home for dinner save this little bad of day-old lentils.
Mrs Steenbeck: Oh I love you so much Mr Steenbeck. And don't worry about dinner, I'll go out back and forage among the plants and make something nourishing and delicious out of roots and leaves.
Mr Steenbeck: Awww, you're the best Mrs Steenbeck. While you do that I'll go check on Wally and the Beaver.

DaddyPig said...

I'll post if I can stop giggling at tin's little screenplay...

My brother-in-law has just come back from Lebanon, and my wife was on the phone to him when I was playing the clip. He heard it down the phone and said straight away that it sounds Lebanese.

Of course it is, extra depth indeed for a well-loved old surf tune, thanks steenbeck.

steenbeck said...

Tincanman! It's like you have a window into my kitchen. Wait...a...minute...let me adjust this oversized novelty brooch you sent me. Actually, David, as he will henceforth be known, is not balding at all. We do call each other sweetiepants, baby cakes and Honey bunny, though. How did you know?