The Streets of Cairo, or the Poor Little Country Maid

"The Streets of Cairo, or the Poor Little Country Maid", also known as "the snake charmer song", is a well-known melody in the United States. Alternate titles for children's songs using this melody include "The Girls in France" and "The Southern Part of France".[citation needed]

Contents

History

1895 sheet music cover for "The Streets of Cairo"

Purportedly the original version of the song was written by Sol Bloom, a showman (and later a U.S. Congressman) who was the entertainment director of the World's Columbian Exposition in 1893. It included an attraction called "A Street in Cairo" produced by Gaston Akoun, which featured snake charmers, camel rides, and a scandalous dancer known as Little Egypt. Songwriter James Thornton penned the words and music to his own version of this melody, "Streets Of Cairo or The Poor Little Country Maid". Copyrighted in 1895, it was made popular by his wife Lizzie Cox, who used the stage name Bonnie Thornton.[1] The oldest known recording of the song is from 1895, performed by Dan Quinn (Berliner Discs 171-Z).[2]

The first five notes of the song are similar to the beginning of a French song named "Colin Prend Sa Hotte" (1719), which in turn resembles note for note an Algerian or Arabic song titled "Kradoutja".[3] The song appears frequently in cartoons when something that is connected with deserts, Arabia, Egypt, belly dancing, or snake charming is being displayed.[citation needed]

The song was also recorded as "They Don't Wear Pants in the Southern Part of France" by John Bartles, the version sometimes played by radio host Dr. Demento.

The song was also used by Bose for their in store music demonstration of the SoundDock Digital Music Systems in 2010.

Travadja La Moukère

In France there is a popular song that immigrants from Algeria brought back in the 1960s called "Travadja La Moukère", which uses the same exact Hoochy Coochy tune. Its original tune, said to have been based on an original Arab song, was created around 1850 and subsequently adopted by the Foreign Legion.[citation needed]

Partial lyrics :

Travadja La Moukère
Travadja Bono
Trempe ton cul dans la soupière
Si c'est chaud c'est que ça brûle
Si ça brûle c'est que c'est chaud !

Translation:

Travaja La Moukère
Bono Travaja
Dip your ass in the tureen
If it is hot it burns
If it burns it's that it's hot!

"Shir Hasrisim"

In Israel, a popular song for the festival of Purim is "Shir Hasrisim" ("Song of the Ignorants"), written by Natan Alterman. The song pokes fun at the story of Esther, by using silly, almost childlike descriptions of the villains of the Purim story (Ahasuerus is a Baby, Haman is a drunkard). The tune used is most likely a folk tune among the local Arab population.[4]

The use of melody in popular music

Since the piece is not copyrighted, it has been used as a basis for several songs, especially in the early 20th century:

  • "Hoolah! Hoolah!"
  • "Dance of the Midway"
  • "Coochi-Coochi Polka"
  • "Danse Du Ventre"
  • "Kutchy Kutchy"[1]

Later popular songs that include all or part of the melody include:[citation needed]

Appearances in cartoons

Appearances in computer games

From cartoons the song has been adapted to video games. It appears on following computer and videogames:

Appearances on television

Appearances in films

See also

References

  1. ^ a b c Elliot, Julie Anne (2000-02-19). "There's a Place in France: That "Snake Charmer" Song". All About Middle Eastern Dance. http://www.shira.net/streets-of-cairo.htm. Retrieved 2009-09-17. 
  2. ^ Settlemier, Tyrone (2009-07-07). "Berliner Discs: Numerical Listing Discography". Online 78rpm Discographical Project. http://www.78discography.com/Berliner.htm. Retrieved 2009-09-17. 
  3. ^ Adams, Cecil (2007-02-23). "What is the origin of the song "There's a place in France/Where the naked ladies dance?" Are bay leaves poisonous?". The Straight Dope. Creative Loafing Media, Inc. http://www.straightdope.com/columns/070223.html. Retrieved 2009-09-17. 
  4. ^ "Shir Hasrisim"

External links


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