The Streets of Cairo or The Poor Little Country Maid
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Easy piano arrangement: Click here
I have been researching the origin and musical symbolic meaning of the Cairo melody, which is often used as a cliche to signify the Middle East, or more broadly, anything considered exotic. It is also known as the snake-charmers song or "There's a Place in France..."
The melody was used at the 1893 Chicago World's Columbian Exposition for an exhibition called "A Street in Cairo," where a dancer called Little Egypt danced the infamous kutchy-kutchy (or hutchy-kutchy). I have been informed that the lady depicted in the video is not the original Little Egypt but a later imitator, as there were many other dancers that used the name, capitalizing on the popularity of the original. Sol Bloom claims to have composed the melody, although there is some evidence that it may have originally come from a folk tune.
In 1895, James Thornton wrote "The Streets of Cairo or The Poor Little Country Maid," which uses the hutchy-kuthcy melody for the verses, with a chorus in the relative major key.
With the extreme difficulty I had finding a recording, I decided to make this one as a reference recording for others that might be interested in the song's history. I based it on two different piano/vocal arrangements of the tune (the only two I could find). I took the parts that I liked most from each arrangement and rearranged it and made some very minor edits that I felt made more musical sense (without altering the integrity of the arrangements, which at any rate, probably do not give an entirely accurate picture of how this was originally performed anyway). [UPDATE: I have located the original publication of the public domain 1895 sheet music at https://jscholarship.library.jhu.edu/handle/1774.2/31253 - unfortunately, this is not the version heard in this recording, but it is very similar. Lyrics and vocal melody are the same. I have also located the original recording of the song by Dan W. Quinn from 1895. With the assistance of Dr. Demento, and his incredible knowledge of recorded music, I have taken the recording of the early Berliner record and adjusted it to the approrpiate speed so that it sounds in the original D minor/F major.
A large number of popular songs have borrowed the hutchy-kutchy melody including Steve Martin's "King Tut" and "Istanbul not Constantinople" by Four Lads and They Might be Giants.
On July 27, 2013, my recording of "The Streets of Cairo or the Poor Little Country Maid" was played on the Dr. Demento Show.
Samuel Stokes ● Samuelstokes@yahoo.com ● 816-509-2207