NPR logo

You Rascal You

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/143746595/143728233" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
Hanni El Khatib: Singing Along To A Murderous Threat

Hanni El Khatib: Singing Along To A Murderous Threat

You Rascal You

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/143746595/143728233" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

In "You Rascal You," Hanni El Khatib shows that revenge is best served with the volume on full blast. Courtesy of the artist hide caption

toggle caption
Courtesy of the artist

In "You Rascal You," Hanni El Khatib shows that revenge is best served with the volume on full blast.

Courtesy of the artist

To the list of pop music's great expressions of menace — a skin-crawling tradition that includes songs as various as Howlin' Wolf's "Who's Been Talking" and Creedence Clearwater Revival's "Run Through the Jungle," among others — it's now necessary to add Hanni El Khatib's cover of "You Rascal You." El Khatib has stripped the jaunty big-band veneer from Louis Armstrong's original, leaving little to obscure the dire implications of its words. The result is a rare occasion: a murderous threat suitable for singing along.

The song's instrumentation is spare and heavy: While a loop of handclaps sets the tempo, El Khatib's guitar playing provides a steady chop beneath the verses. The marriage of sound and lyric is absolutely direct. First, the singer recounts the scoundrel's crimes: "You asked my wife to wash your clothes / You rascal you / You asked my wife to wash your clothes / and something else, I suppose." Then, El Khatib wishes him death: "I'll be glad when you're dead / "You rascal you." Finally, he uses his guitar to back up his point, and while the particulars aren't clear, all that reverb doesn't bode well for a rascal's health.

Thursday's Pick

Song: "You Rascal You"

Artist: Hanni El Khatib

CD: Will the Guns Come Out

Genre: Rock

Rock fans may recognize something of The White Stripes in the form, but the absence of anything resembling a wink makes for a key difference in content. There's a steely quality to El Khatib's delivery: You never doubt that he's speaking in earnest, and if that's a little scary — honestly, it is — it's also fun. Who hasn't fantasized about a little payback now and again? In "You Rascal You," Hanni El Khatib shows that revenge is a dish best served with the volume turned up to full blast.

Purchase Featured Music

Buy Featured Music

Album
Will The Guns Come Out
Artist
Hanni El Khatib
Label
Innovative Leisure
Released
2011

Your purchase helps support NPR programming. How?