earworm

Earworm: The Sheik of Araby

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

This song popped on the radio yesterday when I was driving home from a day spent with sixth graders; Since then, it won't leave my head. 


Originally written in 1921, The Sheik of Araby was a response to the popular film The Sheik (1921) which starred Rudolph Valentino and Agnes Ayres. 
Valentino and Ayres
The film, in its entirety, can be seen here.

Here's a 1921 recording by The California Ramblers




In 1925, a verse from the song appeared in chapter four of The Great Gatsby:

"The sun had gone down behind the tall apartments of the movie stars in the West Fifties, and the clear voices of girls, already gathered like crickets on the grass, rose through the hot twilight:

'I’m the Sheik of Araby.
Your love belongs to me.
At night when you’re are asleep
Into your tent I’ll creep ——'

'It was a strange coincidence,' I said.
'But it wasn’t a coincidence at all.'
'Why not?'
'Gatsby bought that house so that Daisy would be just across the bay.' "




In 1926 new lyrics were added and the title changed to That Night in Araby. That same year, Son of the Sheik was released as a sequel to the film that inspired the tune.





Here's Django Reinhardt's 1937 version of the tune:





The Beatles also covered the song on their unsuccessful Decca audition from 1962. 


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