DICK DALE, THE INVENTOR OF SURF ROCK, WAS A LEBANESE-AMERICAN

Dick Dale Lebanese American
by welt.de

… I heard Dick Dale’s “Misirlou” for the first time in the opening credits of Quentin Tarantino’s “Pulp Fiction.” It was 1994, I was fourteen, and my friend Bobby, who had both a license and a car, had driven us to the fancy movie theatre…

… It’s perhaps curious, at first glance, that a Lebanese-American kid from Boston invented a genre known as surf rock, but such is Dale’s story. He was born Richard Monsour in 1937; several decades earlier, his paternal grandparents had immigrated to the U.S. from Beirut.

… Dale told the journalist George Baramki Azar, in 1998. “The darbukkah, along with the wailing style of singing, especially the way they use the throat, creates a very powerful force.”…

… “Misirlou” is in fact an eastern Mediterranean folk song. The earliest recorded version is Greek, from 1927, and it was performed in a style known as rebetiko, itself a complex mélange of Orthodox chanting, indigenous Greek music, and the Ottoman songs that took root in Greek cities during the occupation. (A few years back, I spent some time travelling through Greece for a Times Magazine story about indigenous-Greek folk music; when I heard “Misirlou” playing from a 78-r.p.m. record on a gramophone on the outskirts of Athens—a later, slower version, recorded by an extraordinary oud player named Anton Abdelahad—I nearly choked on my cup of wine.)

… That a song written at least a century before and thousands of miles away could leave me quaking in a movie theatre in suburban New York City in 1994 is so plainly miraculous and wonderful…

Text By Amanda Petrusich at newyorker.com
Misirlou, Dick Dale’s version.
Misirlou, Greece version.