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'Misirlou,' from Klezmer to Surf Guitar

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'Misirlou,' from Klezmer to Surf Guitar

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'Misirlou,' from Klezmer to Surf Guitar

'Misirlou,' from Klezmer to Surf Guitar

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'Misirlou' as Performed By...

Rabbi Abulafia

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03Dick Dale & His Del-Tones

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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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08Klezmer Conservatory Band

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

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12Kronos Quartet

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05Arthur Lyman

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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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29Pete Seeger

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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.

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

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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.

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King of the Surf Guitar: The Best of Dick Dale

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Buy 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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