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

Στη μαγεμένη Αραπιά
(Sti Mayemeni Arapia)

(In Enchanted Arabia)

 

This page contains a translation into English of the lyrics to the popular Greek laiko song "Sti Mayemeni Arapia" (Στη μαγεμένη Αραπιά), which was originally sung by Dimitris Roumeliotis and Nota Papanikolaou, then later recorded by Glykeria. 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.

About Dimitris Roumeliotis

Dimitris Roumeliotis and Nota Papanikolaou were the original artists for this song, recording it as a duet.

These biographical notes about Roumeliotis are based on an interview he did with Kosta Hondrou.

Roumeliotis was a great rebetiko singer who recorded over 100 songs. Unfortunately, he never achieved the level of fame and commerical success as other popular artists. Nevertheless, he was still highly respected and honored as a great artist in the genre.

Roumeliotis' parents were both from Asia Minor (the land mass where modern-day Turkey resides). They fled to Greece during the genocide of the early 20th century. In order for Roumeliotis' father to make it out alive, he needed to dress as a woman to disguise himself. Roumeliotis was born in Thessaloniki, Greece.

Roumeliotis began his professional career at age 17, playing at a venue in Thessaloniki. During the German occupation of Greece, the nightclubs were required to close at 10:00 p.m. due to curfew. One night, as he and a friend were walking home, they were stopped by some German Gestapo agents. He was holding his bouzouki, and his fingers accidentally moved on the strings, making the sound "gling gling". When the Germans heard this, they yelled “Mousik, Mousik” and let the musicians go.

After the end of World War II, when the Greek record companies began production again, Roumeliotis began releasing albums. Some of his compositions were recorded by other singers. After 1951, he recorded a number of songs by Giorgos Mitsakis, including the one in this translation.

In 1968, he moved to Canada. Initially, he planned to stay for only a short time, but one opportunity led to another and he continued to extend his stay. Eventually he brought his wife and daughter to Canada to make their home there. He died at the age of 91 in Montreal.

Dimitris Roumeliotis

About Glykeria

Although Glykeria was not the original artist to record this song, her version of it has been very popular.

Glykeria Kotsoula is the sweetheart of Greece and one of the greatest legends of our time. She was born in 1953 in Serres, Greece. Her musical style is modern laika (rebetika & folk), while still always paying tribute to the great Rebetes of the past.

Panayiota, the translator of this song, offers this personal perspective on what Glykeria's music means to her:

Glykeria's music always has and always will inspire me both on and off the stage. I admire her simplicity and humility despite her fame and success. While most kids were learning standard lullabies, my mother would sing all her songs to me, since I was a baby. My mother Evangelia is a huge fan and loves singing her songs. On family road trips, my mother played this song (and all her tapes) over and over again. Those cassette tapes (with this song) are what made me fall in love with Laika/Rebetika style music at the age of ten. Thank you Glykeria, thank you Mama! Enjoy!

Most of Glykeria's records have gone platinum. She has gained fame and respect through out the world. Glykeria collaborates with many notable international musicians, including the Turkish living legend, Omar Farouk Tekbilek.

Glykeria

About Giorgos Mitsakis

Giorgos Mitsakis was the composer and lyricist for this song. He was born in Constantinople in 1921. His famliy relocated to Greece when he was a young child. His father wanted him to be a fisherman, but in 1937 he left home, eventually making his way to Piraeus. There he became a professional musician. After World War 2, he collaborated with prominent musicians, and soon he had achieved a level of fame.

Giorgios Mitsakis

Song: Sti Mayemeni Arapia – In Enchanted Arabia, 1959

Lyrics: Giorgos Mitsakis (also known as Karadouzeni)

Music: Giorgos Mitsakis (also known as Karadouzeni)

Original Artists: Dimitris Roumeliotis & Nota Papanikolaou (duet)

Has Also Been Sung By:

  • Glykeria
  • Eleftheria Arvanitaki

Τραγουδι: Στη μαγεμένη Αραπιά, 1959

Στίχοι: Γιώργος Μητσάκης (Καραντουζένι)

Μουσική: Γιώργος Μητσάκης (Καραντουζένι)

Πρώτη εκτέλεση: Δημήτρης Ρουμελιώτης & Νοτα Παπανικολάου

Άλλες ερμηνείες:

  • Γλυκερία
  • Ελευθερία Αρβανιτάκη

 

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Lyrics

Numbers in parentheses refer to footnotes that appear at the bottom of the translation.

Greek Lyrics

Pronunciation

English Translation

Ω, μια νύχτα πριν να σβήσουν τ' άστρα o, mia nihta prin na svisoun t’astra Oh (1), one night before the stars fade
τρελή, μικρή μου ξελογιάστρα treli, mikri mou xeloyiastra crazy, my small temptress
έλα να πάμε μακριά ela na pame makria come, let's go far away.
     
Ω, εκεί που όλα είν' ωραία O, eki pou ola ein’ orea Oh, there, where everything is beautiful
και με τον έρωτα παρέα ke me ton erota parea and with love as a companion
στη μαγεμένη Αραπιά sti magemeni Arapia in enchanted Arabia. (2)
     

Chorus

Chorus

Chorus

     
Έλα γλυκό μου ταίρι, να πάμε σ' άλλα μέρη ela gliko mou teri, na pame s’alla meri Come, my sweet companion, let's go to other places
που να 'ναι καλοκαίρι, ω pou na ‘ne kalokeri, o where there is summer, oh,
Να παίζουν οι αραπάδες na pezoun ee Arapades the Arabs will play
μπουζούκια και ζουρνάδες bouzoukia ke zournades bouzoukis (3) and zurnas (4)
κι εμείς μαχαραγιάδες, ω ke emis maharayiades, o and us like kings (5), oh
στη μαγεμένη Αραπιά sti magemeni Arapia in enchanted Arabia.
     

Instrumental Section

Instrumental Section

Instrumental Section

     
Έλα γλυκό μου ταίρι, να πάμε σ' άλλα μέρη ela gliko mou teri, na pame s’alla meri Come, my sweet companion, let's go to other places
που να 'ναι καλοκαίρι, ω pou na ‘ne kalokeri, o where there is summer, oh,
Να παίζουν οι αραπάδες na pezoun ee Arapades the Arabs will play
μπουζούκια και ζουρνάδες bouzoukia ke zournades bouzoukis and zurnas
κι εμείς μαχαραγιάδες, ω ke emis maharayiades, o and us like kings, oh
στη μαγεμένη Αραπιά sti magemeni Arapia in enchanted Arabia.
  1. The original recording of this song says, "Ohhhhhh." However, some more modern recordings of the song say "Ahhhhhh."
  2. Many of the old songs use the word "Arapia" liberally. The lyrics generally use it to refer to Arabic-speaking, Romany, or Indian women. Unfortunately, in the modern Greek language, the term "Arapis" has become an offensive racial slur for people with dark skin. Although this newer definition now exists, it did not mean this when the lyrics were written. When newer generations listen to these older songs today, they realize the lyrics are referring to an innocent use of the word, and can enjoy the music in the way it was intended.
  3. A "bouzouki" is a Greek musical instrument which dates back to ancient times. It originated with the Greeks in Asia Minor, the land mass known today as Turkey. Greeks lived there in large numbers until the early 20th century. The Greek refugees from Asia Minor brought the bouzouki with them to Greece, and they were the founders of the Greek musical genre known as rebetiko.
  4. A "zurna" is a musical instrument from Anatolia that resembles an oboe. It is similar to the Egyptian mizmar.
  5. The Greek word "Maharayiades" would be more directly translated to English as "Maharajas." It refers to princes or kings in India.

 

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Translations of
Glykeria's Songs On This Site

Other translations of songs performed by Glykeria 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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