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Origins: The Streets Of Cairo third verse

MorwenEdhelwen1 26 Oct 12 - 10:54 PM
Joe Offer 26 Oct 12 - 11:37 PM
Joe Offer 27 Oct 12 - 12:54 AM
Joe Offer 27 Oct 12 - 01:09 AM
MorwenEdhelwen1 27 Oct 12 - 01:17 AM
Joe Offer 27 Oct 12 - 02:17 AM
MorwenEdhelwen1 27 Oct 12 - 08:05 AM
Charley Noble 27 Oct 12 - 08:53 AM
Howard Jones 27 Oct 12 - 01:11 PM
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Subject: Origins: The Streets Of Cairo third verse
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 26 Oct 12 - 10:54 PM

I've been singing this old song-- better known as "that snake charming song" or "There's A Place In France." It has the first verse:

I will sing you a song,
And it won't be very long,
'Bout a maiden sweet,
And she never would do wrong.

She was not long in the city,
Ev'ryone said she was pretty,
All alone, oh, what a pity,
Poor little maid


I get the sense of the first two verses and the song as a whole, (they're about a country girl who goes out alone and "falls") but does anyone have an idea what the third verse means?

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


What does "She was engaged/As a picture for to pose/To appear each night/In abbreviated clothes" refer to? Striptease? Posing for nude photos?
From looking at Google Books, I get the impression that striptease acts began in the 1900s, some time after this song was written (in 1895) but maybe they started earlier. Does anyone have an idea what it might refer to?


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Subject: ADD: The Streets Of Cairo (James Thornton)
From: Joe Offer
Date: 26 Oct 12 - 11:37 PM

I think this song has the tune of the song I knew with these words:
    Oh the girls in France, they wear tissue paper pants
    da-da-da da-da da-da-da-da

There's a good transcription of the entire song at monologues.co.uk

STREETS OF CAIRO
[The Poor Little Country Girl]
(James Thornton)

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

CHORUS:
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.
CHORUS

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.

FINAL CHORUS:
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.



Written and composed by James Thornton - 1893
Performed by Ellaline Terriss (1871-1971)
Performed by Bonnie Thornton (1871-1920)



Also take a look at these pages:
Levy Sheet Music Collection

everything2.com which says Sol Bloom claimed to have been the first to set down the melody, as the theme to the 'Cairo' section of the Chicago World's Columbian Exposition of 1893 - but the melody may have even older roots.

arabkitsch.com if nothing else, you gotta love the name of the Website.

And there's an excellent and exhaustive study of the song at a belly-dance Website, shira.net. Shira's conclusion: the melody is not an authentic melody for belly dance, and might be offensive if used for belly dance in some countries.


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Subject: RE: Origins: The Streets Of Cairo third verse
From: Joe Offer
Date: 27 Oct 12 - 12:54 AM

More?

The song is featured in "The Tortured Life of Shady Jones" at fanfiction.net


Nice page at ethanhein.com

Great stuff in the "Visions of Salome" chapter of a book titled Tin Pan Opera: Operatic Novelty Songs in the Ragtime Era By Larry Hamberlin - looks like a great book


gildedserpent.com has a great page, with information similar to that at shira.net (and attributed to Shira).


Our college-age "ladysitter," Rachel, was here this evening to take care of my mother-in-law. Rachel says there's a popular song by a performer named Ke$ha that makes use of this melody. Morwen, is the Ke$ha recording what brought this to mind for you?

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: Origins: The Streets Of Cairo third verse
From: Joe Offer
Date: 27 Oct 12 - 01:09 AM

OK, and as for your question:

She was engaged "as a picture for to pose" - I'm guessing here: I understand (probably from the movies) that in burlesque, sometimes the ladies could pose (for viewing, not for photos) "deshabille" if they didn't move, but would be arrested if they moved or danced.

As for "One who caught her, now is sorry," my guess: judging from the 1890s vintage of the song, I'm guessing that the guy who caught her got "caught" himself, and ended up getting married to her.

But these are just guesses. Catspaw is the one who really knows about such things....

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: Origins: The Streets Of Cairo third verse
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 27 Oct 12 - 01:17 AM

Not really, it's just taht I'm learning this song. Thanks Joe!


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Subject: ADD: The Ballet-Girl (poem)
From: Joe Offer
Date: 27 Oct 12 - 02:17 AM

A related poem, which doesn't scan to the same melody:

From Puck, Volume 12, Issue 355

THE BALLET-GIRL.

With complexion like the rose
    'Mid the snows.
Due to powder on her nose,
    I suppose,
She twirls upon her toes
In abbreviated clothes
And exhibits spangled hose
    To her beaux.

When cruel Time bestows
    Adipose,
Fairy parts and all those
    She outgrows,
And murmuringly goes
To the very hindmost rows,
To pirouette and pose
    With the "crows."

When life frayed and faded grows,
    Like her bows,
She in garrets sits and sews
    Furbelows,
Till her weary eyelids close
In the peace of death's repose.
Is she reaping what she sows?
    Heaven knows!

—Lippincott's Magazine.

...also in Helen Potter's Impersonations


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Subject: RE: Origins: The Streets Of Cairo third verse
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 27 Oct 12 - 08:05 AM

*that* I always want to know more about the songs I'm singing.
(Sidenote: For some reason I can't take this song totally seriously, but who said you had to take something seriously in order to sing it?)


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Subject: RE: Origins: The Streets Of Cairo third verse
From: Charley Noble
Date: 27 Oct 12 - 08:53 AM

I believe this ditty was composed on or immediately after Chicago's Columbia Exposition, given the chorus line:

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

Here's the reference for a photo I have of one of the exotic dancers (some of whom may well have been Midwest farm girls):

"Little Egypt" dancing the "Hoochee-Coochee" at the "Street in Cairo" exhibition on the Midway at the World's Columbian Exposition, held in Chicago in 1893.

Pity we can't post photos here.

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: Origins: The Streets Of Cairo third verse
From: Howard Jones
Date: 27 Oct 12 - 01:11 PM

"Tableaux vivants" were a popular form of entertainment, and as nude or semi-nude performers were not allowed to move on stage they would pose as classic works of art. These were a frequent feature of variety shows in the US and I assume this is what is meant by "a picture for to pose"


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