Sunday, January 10, 2010

ROCK Sex: "Misirlou!" -The Deep History of Dick Dale's Surf Classic

ROCK Sex pulps fiction for facts.

Today's culture relay is about the classic Surf rocker "Misirlou".


The song originates from Greece in the 1920s as "Misirlou", first performed by MICHALIS PATRINOS' band and then recorded in 1930. He then did a New York recording the next year. It quickly became a standard within the Greek, Turkish, and Arabic immigrant communities in America.

Wikipedia informs us that "the Greek word Misirlou refers specifically to a Muslim Egyptian woman (as opposed to a Christian Egyptiotissa); thus this song refers to a cross-faith, cross-race, relationship, a risqué subject at its time." That makes the song even better.

MIKE PATRINOS -"Misirlou" (1930)

Here's a terrific overview of ensuing versions compiled by Joe Graziosi on YouTube:
Includes TETOS DEMITRIADIS (1940) / MARIA KARELLA-ROUMEL ('41) / DIMITRIS 'BEBIS' STERGIOU ('62)/ DEMETRIOS PAPPAS & The Amphion Choir ('60)/ GUS VALI ('60)/ HRACH YACOUBIAN ('61)/ -"Misirlou"

KORLA PANDIT, the organ maestro and early television pioneer, did an amazing version. Watch him give Grandmaster Flash and Jimmy Smith a run for their money with his deft moves at 1:14:

KORLA PANDIT -"Misirlou" (1951)

And then of course there is the champion. DICK DALE was familiar with "Misirlou" from his Lebanese family members, and when a fan dared him to play a song on one string, Dick unleashed this tsunami:

DICK DALE & The Del Tones -"Miserlou" (1962)

Catching the wave, The Beach Boys released a Dale-inspired cover. The session work is by 'Wrecking Crew' stalwarts, an informal gathering of the L.A. studio sessionists that at times included guitarist Glen Cambell, pianist Leon Russell, bassist Carol Kaye, and drummer Hal Blaine:

THE BEACH BOYS -"Misirlou" (1963)

Most know Bobby Fuller from his Buddy Holly style and hit cover of The Crickets' "I Fought the Law".

But Surf fans love his ferocious live take on "Misirlou", especially the freeform climax.

BOBBY FULLER FOUR -"Misirlou" (1964)

If you want to sing along, here's a really fun vocal version by Connie Francis!

CONNIE FRANCIS --"Misirlou" (1965)

Surf ferocity energized much of Punk, particularly in Los Angeles, as proven by this cover version.

AGENT ORANGE -"Misirlou" (1982)

And of course the song was catapulted to world fame by its use in the opening credits of Quentin Tarantino's film PULP FICTION.

Tarantino equated the mediterranean melody and stinging Surf of Dale's version with the Spaghetti Western soundtracks of Ennio Morricone, such as THE GOOD, THE BAD, AND THE UGLY. In truth, the Surf songs with international riffs had inspired Ennio's approach to Westerns in the first place.

Opening Scene: PULP FICTION (1994)

A sample of this rode another wave in HipHop Pop.

BLACK EYE PEAS -"Pump It" (2006)

"My Miserlou, has lit a flame in my heart,
Your two lips are dripping honey, ah!"

© Tym Stevens

See Also:
-The Real History of Rock and Soul!: A Music Player Checklist

-Shock Waves: How SURF MUSIC Saved Rock'n'Roll!, with 2 Music Players
-How SPAGHETTI WESTERNS Revolutionized Rock Music! , with 3 Music Players

1 comment:

dogleg said...

great post.
ya gotta see Acetone doing a great version in Chicago on youtube.