Sheik of Araby

Sheik of Araby

"The Sheik of Araby" is a song that was written by Harry Smith, Francis Wheeler and music by Ted Snyder in 1921. It was composed in response to the popularity of the Rudolph Valentino film "The Sheik".

It 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, earning a mention in "The Great Gatsby".

The "Araby" in the title refers to Arabia or the Arabian Peninsula. The town of Arabi, Louisiana, a small municipality in St. Bernard Parish, Louisiana, southeast of New Orleans, Louisiana, should be noted as some New Orleans jazz bands have a tradition of performing the number as if it refers to that community for humorous effect.

Notable recordings

*Don Albert's band recorded the first version with the chant "With no pants on" between the lines of lyrics. This was and still is a popular bit of hokum with New Orleans bands, but got Albert's record generally banned from radio airplay.

*Fats Waller & His Rhythm in 1939.

* In Heaven Can Wait (1943 film) directed by Ernst Lubitsch, Don Ameche and Gene Tierney attend a musical stage production where The Sheik of Araby is performed.

*Fats Domino

*George Lewis

* The Beatles covered this song in 1962 at their unsuccessful Decca audition with George Harrison as the lead singer and Pete Best on the drums. This track can be found on Anthology 1.

*Preservation Hall Jazz Band

*Django Reinhardt and Stephane Grappelli (Hot Club of France).

*Louis Prima

*Harry Connick, Jr. on his big band album "Oh, My NOLA" (2007).

*Sidney Bechet In 1941, as an early experiment in overdubbing at RCA Studios, Bechet recorded a version of the pop song "Sheik of Araby", playing six different instruments: clarinet, soprano saxophone, tenor saxophone, piano, bass, and drums.

*Leon Redbone on his album "Double Time".

*Spike Jones and his City Slickers. Album: "Bluebirds"


I'm the Sheik of Araby,
Your love belongs to me.
At night when you're asleep
Into your tent I'll creep.

And the stars that shine above,
Will light our way to love.
You'll roam this land with me,
I'm the Sheik of Araby.

Oh, I'm the Sheik of Araby
And all the women worship me.
You should see them follow me around. Not bad.
Even wives of all the other sheiks,
They beg to kiss my rosy cheeks
And that ain't bad -- in fact, that's good, I've found. I'm a cad!
When I lay down to sleep
I'm counting girls instead of sheep
From my harem I can't scare 'em out. Why should I?
They're beauties from all races,
And some have pretty faces.
I'm the Sheik who knows what love is all about.

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