by Jon Guze
Senior Fellow, Legal Studies, John Locke Foundation
Were there Arabian motifs in California surf music? UK blogger Mick Hartley suggests that there were. He post this video of Dick Dale playing “Misirlou”:
along with an extended discussion that begins:
It seems too strange to digest at first, that “Misirlou,” Dale’s most widely recognized tune, is based on an Arabic-language song, or that a number of his surf music classics have a distinctively Arabic sound. After all, what speaks more purely of that all-American California lifestyle than the high-energy, good-natured twang of surf music? Yet, in the portentous chords of Jan and Dean’s “Dead Man’s Curve” and in some of the early Beach Boys music – when they are not borrowing from Chuck Berry – the discerning ear can pick up not only the sounds of California beach communities, but a tantalizing hint of Beirut, Lebanon, Damascus, Syria, and Cairo, Egypt.