The Streets of Cairo
"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". This song is often associated with the hoochie coochie belly dance.
- 1 History
- 2 Travadja La Moukère
- 3 In popular culture
- 4 See also
- 5 References
- 6 External links
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. The oldest known recording of the song is from 1895, performed by Dan Quinn (Berliner Discs 171-Z).
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".
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.
Travadja La Moukère
In France, there is a popular song which immigrants from Algeria brought back in the 1960s called "Travadja La Moukère" (from trabaja la mujer, which means "the woman works" in Spanish), which uses the same Hoochy Coochy tune.[clarification needed] Its original tune, said to have been based on an original Arab song, was created around 1850 and subsequently adopted by the Foreign Legion.
Travadja La Moukère
Travaja La Moukère
In popular culture
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"
- "In My Harem" by Irving Berlin
- "Kutchy Kutchy"
- ''Strut, Miss Lizzie'' by Creamer and Layton
- In Italy, the melody is often sung with the words "Te ne vai o no? Te ne vai sì o no?" ("Are you leaving or not? Are you leaving, yes or no?"). That short tune is used to invite an annoying person to move along, or at least to shut up.
- In 1934, during the Purim festivities in Tel Aviv, the song received Hebrew lyrics jokingly referring to the Book of Esther and its characters (Ahasaurus, Vashti, Haman and Esther) written by Natan Alterman, Israel's foremost lyricist of the time. It was performed by the "Matateh" troup, under the name "נעמוד בתור / Na'amod Bator" ("we will stand in line").
- "Twilight in Turkey" by the Raymond Scott Quintette (1937)
- This tune is quoted in Luther Billis' dance in "Honey Bun" from the musical South Pacific. (1949)
- Bonaparte's Retreat" by Pee Wee King (1949)
- "Istanbul not Constantinople" by Four Lads (1953) and They Might Be Giants (1990)
- "Nellie the Elephant" by Ralph Butler (1956)
- "Teenager's Mother (Are You Right?)" by Bill Haley & His Comets (1956)
- "Ek Ladki Bheegi Bhaagi Si" from the motion picture Chalti Ka Naam Gaadi (1958)
- "Oriental Rock" by Bill Haley & His Comets (1958)
- "The Sheik of Araby" performed by the Beatles during their 1962 Decca audition, with George Harrison as the lead singer and Pete Best on the drums (this track can be found on Anthology 1).
- "Revolution 9" by the Beatles (1968)
- "Funky Mule" by Buddy Miles Express (1968)
- "The Grand Wazoo" by Frank Zappa (1972)
- "You Scared the Lovin' Outta Me" by Funkadelic (1976)
- "Open Sesame" by Kool & The Gang (1976)
- "One for the Vine" by Genesis (1976)
- "Egyptian Reggae" by Jonathan Richman and the Modern Lovers (1977)
- "King Tut" by Steve Martin (1978)
- "White Cigarettes" by P-Model (1979)
- "Menergy" by Patrick Cowley (1981)
- "Lies," by Thompson Twins, immediately after the line, "Cleopatra died for Egypt. What a waste of time!" (1982)
- "Starchild" by Teena Marie (1984)
- "Egypt, Egypt" by The Egyptian Lover (1984)
- "Iesha" by Another Bad Creation (1990)
- "Place in France" by L.A.P.D. (an early band for 3 of the original members of Korn) (1991)
- "Gypsy Reggae" by Goran Bregović (1993)
- "Cleopatra, Queen of Denial" by Pam Tillis (1993)
- "Cleopatra's Cat" by the Spin Doctors (1994)
- "It's On Now" by 57th Street Rogue Dog Villains (1995)
- "Skatanic" by Reel Big Fish (1996)
- "Criminal" by Fiona Apple (1997)
- "Hokus Pokus" by Insane Clown Posse (1997)
- "Rip Rock" by Canibus (1998)
- "Circus" (马戏团) by David Tao (陶喆) (1999)
- "Playboy" by Red Wanting Blue (2000)
- "Learn Chinese" by MC Jin (欧阳靖) (2003)
- "Over There" by Jonathan Coulton (2003) (lyrics)
- "Act a Ass" by E-40 (2003)
- "Lækker pt. 2 feat. L.O.C." Nik & Jay (2004)
- "Naggin" by Ying Yang Twins (2005)
- "Rojo es el color" by Señor Trepador (2006)
- "Toc Toc Toc" by Lee Hyori (이효리) (2007)
- "Ular" by Anita Sarawak (2008)
- "Till You Come to Me" by Spencer Day (2009)
- "¿Viva la Gloria?" by Green Day (2009)
- "Mr.Ragga!!" by Shonanno Kaze (湘南乃風) (2009)
- "Space Girl" by The Imagined Village (2010)
- "Take It Off" by Kesha (2010)
- "Who's That? Broooown!" by Das Racist (2010)
- "Grunt Tube" by Blue Water White Death (2010)
- "Lipstick" by Orange Caramel (2012)
- "I'm Not In Your Mind" by King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard (2014)
- "Glory Hole" by Steel Panther (2014)
- "Hypnotic" by Zella Day (2015)
- "Back On The Train" by Phish (7/22/2015, Bend OR)
- "Music To Watch Boys To" by Lana Del Rey (2015)
- "Genghis Khan" by Miike Snow (2015)
- "We Appreciate Power" by Grimes (2018)
- "Hide Out" (사라지는 꿈) by Sultan of the Disco (2018)
- "I'm So Hot" by Momoland (2019)
- Felix the Cat: Arabiantics (1928)
- Mickey Mouse: The Karnival Kid (1929)
- Mickey Mouse: The Chain Gang (1930)
- Mickey Mouse: Pioneer Days (1930)
- Mickey Mouse: Mickey Steps Out (1931)
- Circus Capers (1930)
- Betty Boop: Boop-Oop-a-Doop (1932)
- Flip the Frog: Circus (1932)
- Goofy Goat Antics (1933)
- Mickey Mouse: The Band Concert (1935)
- Mickey Mouse: Clock Cleaners (1937)
- Donald Duck: Self Control (1938)
- Donald Duck: The Autograph Hound (1939)
- Goofy and Wilbur (1939)
- Goofy Groceries (1940)
- Bugs Bunny: What's Cookin' Doc? (1944)
- Private Snafu: Booby Traps (1944)
- Aladdin's Lamp (1947)
- Popeye "Nurse to Meet Ya" (1955)
- Woody Woodpecker: Witch Crafty (1955)
- Woody Woodpecker: Roamin' Roman (1963)
- Vincent (1982)
- The Simpsons episode "Homer's Night Out" (1990)
- The Simpsons episode "Milhouse Doesn't Live Here Anymore" (2004)
- Bob's Burgers episode "Uncle Teddy" (2014)
- Family Guy episode "Switch the Flip" (2018)
From cartoons the song has been adapted to video games. It appears on following computer and video games:
- Dark Tower (1981 electronic game, bazaar)
- Venture (1981)
- Lady Tut (1983)
- Oh Mummy (1984)
- Bombo (1986)
- The Legend of Sinbad (1986, Level 2)
- Rick Dangerous (1989, Level 2 – Egypt)
- Quest for Glory II: Trial by Fire (1990, Katta's Tail Inn)
- Lotus Turbo Challenge 1 (1991, desert level)
- Jill of the Jungle (1992)
- The Lost Vikings (1992, Level 3 – Egypt)
- Lemmings 2 (1993, Egyptian tribe)
- Zool 2 (1994, Tooting common level 3)
- Rampage Through Time (2000, Egyptian timezone)
- Mevo and the Grooveriders (2009)
- Red Dead Redemption 2 (2018)
- Andy Bernard sings a variation with a sitar in the "Moroccan Christmas" episode of season 5 of The Office.
- In Charles Lamont's 1932 short film War Babies, the first film in the Baby Burlesks series, the song is briefly used while Shirley Temple's character Charmaine is dancing around in Buttermilk Pete's Cafe.
- In Laurel and Hardy's Sons of the Desert (1933), it is heard briefly in a belly dancer scene at the beginning of the convention.
- It is heard in the beginning of Patrice Leconte's short film "Le laboratoire de l'angoisse" (1971).
- In Emir Kusturica's 1993 movie Arizona Dream, the tune is being played several times with accordion by Grace.
The tune is used for a 20th-century American children's song with – like many unpublished songs of child folk culture – countless variations as the song is passed from child to child over considerable lengths of time and geography, the one constant being that the versions are almost always smutty. One variation, for example, is:
- There's a place in France
- Where the ladies wear no pants
- But the men don't care
- 'cause they don't wear underwear.
or a similar version:
- There's a place in France
- Where the naked ladies dance
- There's a hole in the wall
- Where the boys can see it all
Another World War II-era variation is as follows:
- When your mind goes blank
- And you're dying for a wank
- And Hitler's playing snooker with your balls
- In the German nick
- They hang you by your dick
- And put dirty pictures on the walls
- Elliot, Julie Anne (2000-02-19). "There's a Place in France: That "Snake Charmer" Song". All About Middle Eastern Dance. Retrieved 2009-09-17.
- "France, Pants". Desultor. Harvard Law School. January 21, 2004. Retrieved March 6, 2015.
- Settlemier, Tyrone (2009-07-07). "Berliner Discs: Numerical Listing Discography". Online 78rpm Discographical Project. Retrieved 2009-09-17.
- Adams, Cecil (2007-02-23). "What is the origin of the song 'There's a place in France/Where the naked ladies dance?'". The Straight Dope. Creative Loafing Media, Inc. Retrieved 2009-09-17.