Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Bint El Shalabiya (Pretty Girl / Barefoot Girl)

This is one of my favourite folk melodies from Middle East. Sung by the legendary Fairouz, arranged by the Rahbani Brothers. To quote R. Malley,
“Bint El Shalabiya” is best known from the version sung by the Lebanese icon Fairouz (1935 – present). The song is also known as a folk melody from the Greater Syrian region before the area had split into autonomous countries. Composer Assi Rahbani, also Fairouz’s husband, arranged the song in the late 1950s adding a bridge section to it. 

I've heard some people saying that the name means "the Girl from Seville" while others say that it means "Pretty Girl". Whatever it is, it is a beautiful melody.

Bint e‘shalabiya 'ayunha lawzia
Hobek men 'albi ya 'albi wanti 'aynaya

Hod al anater mahbubi nater
Kasral khawater ya welfi ma han 'alaya

Bit tel wa tlooh wal alb majrooh
Ayam 'albal bit 'an watrooh

Taht el rumani hobi hakani
wa sam'ani ghenani ya 'ayooni watghazel fia

The pretty girl with almond eyes
I love you from my heart, oh, my heart, you’re my eyes

Near the bridge my love awaits
To break your thoughts, my child, was not my intention

You appear and gesture, but the heart is wounded
Days are on my mind, and the memories come and go

Under the pomegranate tree, my love spoke to me
He sang to me songs, oh my eyes, as he wooed me

In my childhood I knew this as "the Barefoot Girl" played by the great Ron Goodwin in "The Music for an Arabian Night". Now, many people do not know about this, but just 20-30 years ago it was a very popular music album in India. You could hear it on radio, paan shops. I've seen a magician using it to create an Arabian ambience.

There are several other variants of this song in YouTube. Here is a Turkish version (Böyle Gelmiş Böyle Gider) by the pop singer Deniz Seki:

and another (more jazzy) one sung by May Nasr in a live concert in San Francisco in 2010:

- Subhadip

No comments:

Post a Comment