'Misirlou,' from Klezmer to Surf Guitar

'Misirlou' as Performed By...

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Song
Misirlou
Album
King of the Surf Guitar: The Best of Dick Dale
Artist
Dick Dale & the Del-Tones
Label
Rhino/WEA
Released
1969

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Song
Misirlou
Album
Dancing in the Aisles
Artist
Klezmer Conservatory Band
Label
Rounder
Released
1997

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Song
Misirlou
Album
Taboo: The Exotic Sounds of Arthur Lyman
Artist
Arthur Lyman
Label
Rykodisc
Released
1969

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Song
Misirlou
Album
We Shall Overcome: The Complete Carnegie Hall Concert
Artist
Pete Seeger
Label
Columbia
Released
1989

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Rabbi Abulafia's version is from "Talmudic Legends: Liturgical songs of Nuftali Zvi Margolies Abulafia," copyright 1979 Lionel Ziprin.

Cover of Surfer's Choice from Dick Dale & His Del-Tones

Dick Dale & His Del-Tones turned the song into a surf guitar hit in 1962. hide caption

itoggle caption

The tune "Misirlou" has traveled quite a path, from klezmer music to 1950s exotica acts and finally to surf guitar and an appearance in the 1994 film Pulp Fiction.

Many of you heard it again in a Jan. 1 feature by Jon Kalish on Lionel Ziprin's efforts to preserve the recordings of his grandfather, Rabbi Nuftali Zvi Margolies Abulafia.

Surf guitar legend Dick Dale & His Del-Tones turned the melody into a sizzling electric riff in the early 1960s. His grandparents were born in Lebanon, and as a child he remembers hearing his relatives play "Misirlou," which translates as "The Egyptian," on the Middle Eastern lute called the oud.

Yale Strom, adjunct professor of enthnography at New York University, helps trace the history of a hardy melody all the way back to its Greek and Turkish roots.

Purchase Featured Music

King of the Surf Guitar: The Best of Dick Dale

Purchase Music

Purchase Featured Music

Album
King of the Surf Guitar: The Best of Dick Dale
Artist
Dick Dale & the Del-Tones
Label
Rhino/WEA

Your purchase helps support NPR Programming. How?

 

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