Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Claude François twists, in Arabic

In 1962, French pop star Claude François released the single "Le Nabout Twist," in Arabic and in French, under the pseudonym Kôkô. Here's the Arabic version (well, it's not all in Arabic, but a mix of Arabic and French).

Why did this big French star release a song in Arabic? As I have blogged about previously, he was born in Ismailiyya, Egypt, in 1939. His father worked as a shipping controller in the Suez Canal. The family was forced to leave for France in 1956, in the wake of the Tripartite Aggression. Apparently, his departure from Egypt was something he always regretted.

I don't have time to try to translate the Arabic, and am not sure I understand it all in any case. His pronunciation certainly is not perfect, but the sentiment, the gesture, of recording in Arabic, is certainly admirable. Apparently the song didn't do well in France but was well received in "Africa" (at least so say the notes on the youtube vid.) 

You can learn more about Claude from this review of a 2012 French biopic about the star, courtesy Arun Kapil.

I don't know what Le Nabout is. For some reason I think it's the name of a traditional Egyptian dance, but I'm not sure.

Appearing on the same EP was "Ali Baba Twist," a cover of an original by Bob Azzam. I actually prefer this "twist" to "Le Nabout." Check it out

And here's Bob Azzam's version: 

Here is a link to the French version "Le Nabout Twist"

Ecoute-moi mon petit chéri
Si tu veux maigrir il faut danser
Le Nabout... Twist

Le Nabout, le Nabout, c'est la danse que vous appelez le twist
Le Nabout, le Nabout, il y a bien longtemps que cela existe
Le Nabout, le Nabout, c'est une question de force abdominale
Le Nabout, le Nabout pour garder la ligne c'est radical

Je ne peux pas dire quand j'ai posé la question
Il n'y a rien de mieux pour la digestion
Après le repas c'est une occasion
De perdre son ventre et pas la télévision

{au Refrain}

Vous allez me dire "c'est américain"
Ne croyez pas ça car il n'en n'est rien
Et vous nous voyez là tout excités
On n'a pas attendu Elvis Presley

Allez allez
Allez allez
Y a pas mieux
Allez allez
Allez allez
Tu viendras mon amie
Allez allez
Allez allez
Et tous deux la nuit
Allez allez
Allez allez
On fera tous les deux twist twist twist
Twist twist twist
Le Nabout
Twistez le Nabout
Le Nabout
Allez twistez tous le Nabout
Le Nabout
Allez on va twister comme des fous
Le Nabout, le Nabout
Le Nabout, le Nabout
Le Nabout, le Nabout

(plus some mention of hashish)


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