Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Summer Solstice Discoveries, Rembetika and Surf Music


Today is the Summer Solstice and looking out the window it's raining and we have heavy thunder. I haven't seen any lightning yet, but that's just a matter of time, although the weather is saying it's going to be a hot and sunny day (in the south).

The radio and Facebook are full of the corpfest that is Glastonbury. I think that the Eavis family have done a great job and deserve their success, but so so many people go to Glastonbury because it's Glastonbury and the music seems irrelevant. They then start complaining if this year's Robbie Williams isn't headlining. It's almost like X-Factor, you know what to expect, and sometimes it may not be to your taste. This Friday Radiohead play the Pyramid Stage, a relic from the very first Glastonbury (in concept), and the BBC are broadcasting lots of acts. I've never been to Glastonbury and doubt I will ever go, but these days there are so many alternatives that I don't feel I am missing out.

Just seen my first lightning  followed by crashing thunder.

The main reason I am writing this post is because I was reading Electric Eden this morning and discovered something about "Misirlou". I'd always assumed it was a Greek folk song picked up by Dick Dale and "surfed up". Most peoples first contact to this piece was on the opening to Quentin Tarantino's "Pulp Fiction", Tarantino has a way of unearthing great records for his films, think of "Little Green Bag" by the George Baker Selection, Tarantino's inclusion in "Reservoir Dogs" moved it from Sunday afternoon Radio 2 to cool.


But the western gestation of "Misirlou" predates Dick Dale by some years. A guy called Steve Benbow was stationed in Egypt and taught himself guitar to fill his boring days. One of his favourite tunes was a Greek Rembetika song called "Misirlou" (which apparently means "Egyptian Girl". Rembetika is a particularly harsh Greek folk music form so was suited to Benbow's steel stringed acoustic.  I think Benbow recorded it and it was also recorded by Davy Graham as "Miserlou"(sic).

I couldn't find Benbow's recording but found a celebration concert by Peter Oliver.

Whether Dick Dale picked it up as a Greek folk piece or from Benbow's or Graham's recordings I don't know, but if you've read this you now know about it.

SP if you are going out north of Watford take your umbrella and waterproof gear or you may get quite wet. I'm not sure if I will hit my 11K steps today but I did make 15.5K yesterday and am 30K ahead of target.

Have a great day everyone.

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