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.

Lyrics:
I will sing you a song, and it won't be very long
'Bout a maiden sweet, and she never would do wrong.
Ev'ryone said she was pretty. she was not long in the city.
All alone, oh, what a pity, poor little maid.

She never saw the streets of Cairo.
On the Midway she had never strayed;
She never saw the kutchy-kutchy,
Poor little country maid.

She went out one night, did this innocent divine,
With a nice young man who invited her to dine.
Now he's sorry that he met her, and he never will forget her,
In the future he'll know better, poor little maid.

She never saw the streets of Cairo.
On the Midway she had never strayed;
She never saw the kutchy-kutchy,
Poor little country maid.

She was engaged as a picture for to pose,
To appear each night in abbreviated clothes.
All the dudes were in a flurry, for to catch her they did hurry,
One who caught her now is sorry, poor little maid.

She was much fairer far than Trilby,
Lots of more men sorry will be,
If they don't try to keep away from
This poor little country maid.


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Contact info:
Samuel Stokes ● Samuelstokes@yahoo.com ● 816-509-2207