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The Sheik of Araby

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Title: The Sheik of Araby  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Araby, Ted Snyder, The Other Woman (Mad Men), The Beatles' Decca audition, List of 1920s jazz standards
Collection: 1920S Jazz Standards, 1921 Songs, Pop Standards, Songs with Music by Ted Snyder, The Beatles Songs
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

The Sheik of Araby

"The Sheik of Araby"
Sheet music
Published 1921
Form Jazz standard
Composer Ted Snyder
Lyricist Harry B. Smith, Francis Wheeler

"The Sheik of Araby" is a song that was written in 1921 by Harry B. Smith and Francis Wheeler, with music by Ted Snyder. It was composed in response to the popularity of the Rudolph Valentino feature film The Sheik. In 1926, to go with the film The Son of the Sheik, Ted Snyder worked parts of the melody into "That Night in Araby", a related song with words by Billy Rose.

"The Sheik of Araby" was a Tin Pan Alley hit, and was also adopted by early jazz bands, especially in New Orleans, making it a jazz standard. It was a well recognized part of popular culture. A verse also appears in the novel The Great Gatsby (1925) by F. Scott Fitzgerald. In 1926, Fleischer Studios released a cartoon with this song, recorded in Phonofilm, as part of their Song Car-Tunes series, and a live action short with this title was filmed in Phonofilm in the UK, directed by Miles Mander.

The "Araby" in the title refers to Arabia or the Arabian Peninsula. The appeal to New Orleans bands may have lain in "Araby" sharing the same pronunciation as Arabi, Louisiana, a town downriver from New Orleans' 9th Ward and a center for gambling just outside city limits until the early 1950s.

The song features in the film Valentino (1977) with words of parody by Ken Russell, performed by Chris Ellis.

Jean Shepherd frequently sang along with, spoke over, or played kazoo and jews harp to the song as one of his many musical interludes during his WOR radio show days, to the delight of many, and irritation to probably just as many.

Notable recordings

See also


  1. ^
  2. ^ bonus track, The Everly Brothers, Both Sides of an Evening/Instant Party, Warner Bros., Records Inc., 2001.
  3. ^
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