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PHOTO CREDIT: Above photo by John Rickman Photography, San Jose, California.

Ήθελα να 'μουνα πασάς
(Ithela Na ‘Mouna Pasas)

(I Would Have Liked to be a Pasha)

 

This page contains a translation into English of the lyrics to the popular Greek song "Ithela Na ‘Mouna Pasas" (Ήθελα να 'μουνα πασάς). The original artists were a trio consisting of Prodromos Tsaousakis, Rena Stamou, and Nikos Kallergis. Also included is a pronunciation guide for the Greek lyrics so you can sing along if you like.

For more information about the laiko and rebetiko styles of music, see Introduction to Laiko / Rebetiko Music elsewhere on this web site.

Song lyrics are provided for educational purposes. If you like the song, please purchase either the album or a download from an authorized source.

This song was first performed as a trio by Prodromos Tsaousakis, Rena Stamou, and Nikos Kallergis.

Prodromos Tsaousakis

Prodromos Tsaousakis was the stage name of Prodromos Moutafoglou, a highly respected laiko/rebetiko musician. He was born in 1919 in Constantinople (Istanbul). He arrived in Greece at the tender age of three. Prodromos began his performing career in Thessaloniki around the late 1940's by spending time in various venues, which eventually led to being hired. His first collaboration was with the legendary Vasilis Tsitsanis. He then went on to work with many additional notable artists. The then-young Stelios Kazantzidis was a major fan and follower of Prodromos. They went on to collaborate musically, but later had a fallout. Up until a heart attack ended his life in 1979, he was very successful throughout Greece as a singer and songwriter.

ABOUT THE PHOTO: Prodromos Tsaousakis holds a bouzouki (musical instrument).

Prodromos Tsaousakis

Rena Stamou

The beautiful Rebetisa, Rena Stamou, was born in Hania, Crete in 1930. Her birth name was Rena Daskalakaki-Sevdali. When she was a child, she lost her father, and needed to spend her early years in an orphanage. After moving to Athens with her mother and stepfather, she ran away from home never to return. She later found refuge through one of her future colleagues.

Despite her rough upbringing and a heartbreak relationship with another prominent Rebetiko musician, Rena managed to push through to great success. She performed and toured throughout Greece and abroad (Egypt, Turkey, Canada, USA, Paris, Australia to name a few) with many of Greece's most notable musicians.

Known for her grace, ethics, and class, Rena decided it was time to leave Greece. The scene was deteriorating, and the female singers were starting to lose respect. She was very proud of not being a drinker or smoker. She is quoted saying: “The women of the stage — aside from singing, they also were required to sell another type of show… and whatever else may come… I didn’t drink, I didn’t smoke, how would I make the patrons open bottles (of alcohol) for my favor? Abroad, I was acknowledged, and they respected me as an artist."

Rena Stamou eventually returned to Greece around the 1980's, during the time when newer generations began to take an interest in laiko/rebetiko music, and modern venues venues for it started to reopen. These venues were known as Rebetadika.

To learn more about this resilient living legend, check her latest biography called Mia Egiklopedia Tou Rebetikou (An Encyclopedia of Rebetikou), written by Nearho Georgiadi and Tania Rahmatoulina.

ABOUT THE PHOTO: Rena Stamou, as a young woman.

Rena Stamou

Nikos Kallergis

Nikos Kallergis was born in Constantinople (Istanbul) in 1916, and was a notable and respected rebetiko singer and guitar player. Nikos had a very long and successful career touring with many other great artists. During one of his tours to the United States in the 1950's, he decided to stay for several years. He is noted for being one of the few post-war Laiko Rebetes to have recorded many rare songs in New York City in the 1960s.

He passed away at the age of 93 in May, 2008.
Nikos Kallergis

About Eftihia Papayiannopoulou, the Lyricist

Contrary to popular belief, this song was not written by Stelios Hrisinis. It was actually written by a very famous Lyricist named Eftihia Papayiannopoulou, whose nickname was EE Gria (the old lady).

The legendary Eftihia Xatzigeorgiou (Papayiannopoulou) was born in 1893, in the city of Aydin, which is close to Smyrna (today known as Izmir in Turkey). As a Greek Anatolian refugee, she felt the life, pain and suffering. Her talents as a lyricist in the 1950s through 1960s drew the attention of some of the greatest Laiko – Rebetes of that time. Her collaborations Apostolos Kaldaras, Stelios Kazandzidis, Vasilis Tsitsanis and Manos Hadjidakis, Manolis Hiotis, Babis Bakalis, to name a few.

ABOUT THE PHOTO: Eftihia Papayiannopoulou.

Eftihia had a falling out with Stelios Kazandzidis and Vasilis Tsitsanis regarding lyrics and intellectual property rights. In this era, women were not highly regarded and respected. The man always dominated and had the final word. Many of these men did not want others to know that there was a women behind their succuessful songs.

There is much judgment and criticism againt Eftihia Papayiannopoulou because she was an avid tzogadora (gambler). She lost her husband and daughter all within a close period, which led her to turn to it. Gambling is an addiction, and they should not be judged. In her desperation to have fast money she felt the need to sell the rights to her songs as opposed to retaining the rights to obtain a commission.

Eftihia Papayiannopoulou

One of Eftihia's favorite quotes:

“Efhome stous neous na stadiodromisoun sto Laiko tragoudi, pou to opio pote den tha pethani efoson iparxoune Ellines”

(Εύχομαι στους νέους να σταδιοδρομήσουν στο Λαικό τραγούδι, που το οπίο δεν θα πεθάνη ποτέ εφόσον υπάρχουν Έλληνες).

“I hope for the young to follow careers in Laiko song/music, that in which will never die, as long as there are Hellines/Greeks”.

ABOUT THE PHOTO: Eftihia Papayiannopoulou.

Eftihia is credited for writing hundreds of songs; however, it is unknown how many additional songs she wrote that were never credited to her. In her honor, actress Nena Mendi, produced a theatrical play in Greece called The Unkown Eftihia Papagiannopoulou.

Panayiota compiled the above information from her personal library of books, music albums, videos, and magazines, as well as through conversations with musician family members.

Eftihia Papayiannopoulou

Stelios Hrisinis

Stelios Hrisinis was the composer of this song. He was one of the biggest gems in Rebetiko-Laiko music. Losing his sight at a very young age did not stop him from pursuing his dreams.

Many great artists of this time owe Stelios Hrisinis gratitude for their success. Stelios Kazantzidis was one of the artists who attributes his success to Hrisinis, as Hrisinis was his teacher in guitar and voice. Kazantzidis credits him for “teaching him the art of music”.

Stelios Hrisinis was born in 1916 in the port city of Pireas. He was a self-taught multi-talented musician, proficient in many instruments including mandolin, guitar, violin, laouto, baglama, bouzouki and piano, to name a few. He was not the only star in the family. Stelios shared the stage with his older brother, Panayiotis, who was also blind.

Stelios Hrisinis enjoyed an incredibly successful career working and recording with the top artists of his time. He was even granted a position working for “His Master’s Voice” and “Columbia Records” of Greece. During his time in this job, he alienated many other Greek composers and lyricists. Many sources have reported that he would often identify himself as the composer or lyricist for a piece of music that had actually been created by someone else. For this song, the original record album identified Hrisinis as the lyricist; however, the actual poet who created these lyrics was Eftihia Papayiannopoulou.

Because of Hrisinis' influence with the recording companies in his job, every song, from all artists, passed through his hands on the way to the studio. Sometimes he would modify the compositions "to make them better". Some artists were comfortable with the results, while others were rather displeased.

Hrisinis passed away in February of 1970.

Stelios Hrisinis

Song: Ithela Na ‘Mouna Pasas - I Would Have Liked to be a Pasha, 1951

Lyrics: Eftihia Papayiannopoulou

Music: Stelios Xrisinis

Performed by: Prodromos Tsaousakis, Rena Stamou, & Nikos Kallergis (trio)

Has Also Been Recorded By: Stelios Kazantzidis and many others

Τραγουδι: Ήθελα να 'μουνα πασάς, 1951

Στίχοι: Ευτυχία Παπαγιαννοπούλου

Μουσική: Χρυσίνης Στέλιος

Πρώτη εκτέλεση: Πρόδρομος Τσαουσάκης, Ρένα Στάμου, Νίκος Καλλέργης

Άλλες ερμηνείες: Στέλιος Καζαντζίδης

 

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Lyrics

Greek Lyrics

Pronunciation

English Translation

Verse

Verse

Verse

Ήθελα να 'μουνα πασάς ithela na ‘mouna Pasas I would have liked to be a Pasha
ο κόσμος να με τρέμει, o kosmos na me tremi so the world would fear me
να' χα στην εξουσία μου na’ xa stin exousia mou to have under my control
το πιο όμορφο χαρέμι to pio omorfo haremi the most beautiful harem.
     

Chorus

Chorus

Chorus

Με γυναίκες τις πιο φίνες, me ginekes tis pio fines With the finest women
με Tουρκάλες κ Aραπίνες. me Tourkales ke Arapines with Turkish & Arabian women,
με Tουρκάλες κ Aραπίνες. me Tourkales ke Arapines with Turkish & Arabian women,
Με γυναίκες τις πιο φίνες, me ginekes tis pio fines with the finest women.
     

Verse

Verse

Verse

Τον αργιλέ μου να 'πινα ton argile mou na ‘pina To smoke my hookah (1)
μες στον χρυσό οντά μου mes ston xriso onta mou in my golden room,
η πιο μικρή χανούμισσα ee pio mikri hanoumisa the youngest belly dancer (2)
ν' ανάβει τη φωτιά μου. n’ anavi ti fotia mou to light my fire (the hookah).
     

Chorus

Chorus

Chorus

Η χανούμ, θέλει δε θέλει ee hanoum, theli den theli whether the belly dancer likes it or not
θα χορεύει το τσιφτετέλι tha horevi to tsifteteli she will dance tsifteteli (3)
θα χορεύει τσιφτετέλι. tha horevi tsifteteli she will dance tsifteteli
Η χανούμ, θέλει δε θέλει ee hanoum, theli den theli whether the belly dancer likes it or not
     

Verse

Verse

Verse

Ε ρε, πασάς που θα 'μουνα e re, pasas pou tha ‘mouna Oh, what a great Pasha I would have been
με τα τρελά καπρίτσια! me ta trela kapritsia with my crazy whims!
Και για σωματοφυλακή ke gia somatofilaki And for body guards,
τριγύρω μου κορίτσια. trigiro mou koritsia women all around me.
     

Chorus

Chorus

Chorus

Το καφέ μου μες στον δίσκο to kafe mou mes ston disko My coffee in the tray
Aλα-Tούρκα θα τον βρίσκω. Ala Tourka tha ton vrisko. finding my Turkish lifestyle.
Aλα-Tούρκα θα τον βρίσκω. Ala Tourka tha ton vrisko. finding my Turkish lifestyle.
Το καφέ μου μες στον δίσκο to kafe mou mes ston disko My coffee in the tray.
  1. "Pino" translates to "drink". However, in the rebetiko street slang, the word "drink" means "to smoke". The Greek word "argile" is also used in some Arabic-speaking areas such as Syria to refer to a hookah pipe. In Egypt, the word "shisha" would be used for the same thing.
  2. The word "hanoumisa" means "belly dancer".
  3. The word "tsifteteli" is the Greek word for belly dancing, and it also refers to a musical style that is appropriate to use for belly dancing.

 

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Translations of
Stelios Kazantzidis' Songs On This Site

Stelios Kazantzidis wasn't the original artist to record this song, but he was one of several artists who later released their own versions of it.

Other translations of songs performed by Stelios Kazantzidis on this web site include:

 

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About the Translator

This page was contributed by Panayiota Bakis Mohieddin, who is happy to share her culture and music she grew up with! Here's how Panayiota describes her background:

I always love engaging with intelligent like-minded people, especially artists. I love sharing anything and everything about my Hellenic culture and upbringing, especially music and dance. A conversation with me will bring you back to America's favorite Greek-American movie by Nia Vardalos called My Big Fat Greek Wedding.

I love investigating Greek culture, history, music, and dance. Speaking of investigating, I think I missed my calling, I probably should have been an investigator. Instead, I use those skills to dig and dig and dig tirelessly, often times falling asleep on my laptop... just to find the truth. But, most importantly, accurate truth. For me personally, and other respectable folklorists, my culture and accuracy are very important. Each generation of ethnic born artists has a duty to do the best it can to pass down our traditions as was taught to us. We have been given this artistic gift to be the gatekeepers of our heritage and culture.

Panayiota

 

 

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