Note from Lennie Clark: There are many, many versions of this song. The following version was taught to me by Gaby Tawil. The translation is rather vague; he explained it to me when I was first learning to sing the song. Going back, I realize that I don't remember everything he told me about the meaning.
The second version, was found on the internet by my Arabic 202 instructor at Mesa Community College, Ustaathe AbuHannoud, at my request. It was carefully translated by my tutor Hakiima, but I have not learned to sing that version. It's pretty obvious that the lyrics are full of idiom and don't always literally make sense — although Hakiima is Palestinian (originally from Al Quds Jerusalem), she is not, as she protested, "of the village". She wasn't even sure that she remembered the melody, but as soon as we started working on the translation, her mother began humming the tune.
My friend Leyla Lanty tells me that in Arab night clubs and restaurants in California, the playing of this song will usually cause most Palestinians present to jump up and dance the debke. The rhythm Gaby taught me to play for this song is malfouf, three measures to each line.
Robert, thanks for your original query about the song which led me to the following versions! I think it was you who sent me an English translation of the song which said that Dala3auuna was a girl's name. Both Gaby and Hakima emphatically deny this.
Where to Get Recordings of this Song
This song was translated by Ghalep "Gaby" Tawil. Gaby started his career on television and radio in Jordan. He was in so much demand that he stayed in broadcasting for a total of eleven years. He traveled to many Middle Eastern countries, including Egypt, Syria, and Lebanon, where he performed to some of the best venues with top entertainers, such as Sabah and Nadia Gamal. Gaby played with famous Middle Eastern musicians and singers at private parties for royalty, the rich, and the famous.
He resided in New York and circuited the city's hottest nightclubs, including the El Darwich, Cedars of Lebanon, Sinbad's, and Aladdin. He assisted many Middle Eastern dance instructors such as Bobby Farrah and Yousry Sharif in teaching their students to understand the complex Middle Eastern rhythms. He has recorded in numerous studios with famous Middle Eastern artists such as Sabah, Bobby Farrah, and Nadia Gamal and many more. Gaby also had the honor of performing at the Cedars of Lebanon nightclub with Led Zeppelin's Robert Plant.
He moved to Arizona in 1996 where he has been teaching workshops, groups, and private classes in Phoenix and Tucson. He continues to accompany belly dance instructors in their studios to teach the students Middle Eastern rhythms.
Gaby played at a private party in Amman, Jordan with the very famous singer Abdel Halim Hafez. In Haleb, Syria he worked with famous singers Sabah Fakari, Mohammed Hairi, and Suad Mohammed and famous dancer Fifi Abdo.
This article originally appeared on Lennie Clark's web site, "Arabic Song Translations." Lennie created this web site in 2002 as a response to discussion on the Internet regarding incidents of dancers who performed inappropriate sensual dances to religious music. Lennie's web site resided on a free web hosting service known as Geocities.
When the planned October 2009 closure of the Geocities web hosting service was announced, Lennie and Shira agreed to move the contents of Lennie's site to Shira.net. To explore all the articles and song translations that once appeared on Lennie's Geocities site, visit Lennie's portal page here on Shira.net.
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