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





This page contains a translation into English of the lyrics to the popular Greek song "Kairon" (Καιρον), which was sung by Manolis Aggelopoulos, Keti Gleri, and Fofi Rasel. 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 this Song

This song was released in the late 1950s, following the 1952 revolution in Egypt that overthrew the regime of King Farouk. This regime was descended from Albanian military leaders who governed Egypt as Viceroys under the Ottoman Empire, and they were never truly accepted by the Egyptian people. The regime was able to retain its power following the fall of the Ottoman Empire in 1922 because of support from the British.

When the Egyptian Army ended King Farouk's reign in 1952, they ushered in an era of nationalism. In the eyes of Egyptians, this was the first time Egypt was free of foreign rule since the conquest by Alexander the Great in 332 BCE. The post-revolution Egyptian government of the 1950's and 1960's sought to reclaim Egypt for Egyptians. During this time, the Egyptian government seized businesses that had been owned by Greeks, Italians, Armenians, and other ethnic groups. In some cases, the government retained ownership, and in other cases it gave the businesses to Egyptian owners.

For example, before 1952, 80% of movie theaters in Egypt were owned by Greeks, but in the 1960's the Nasser-era government seized them and nationalized the entire cinema industry.

According to musician Chris Kalogerson, when the Egyptian government seized restaurants from Greek owners, some of those restaurant owners emigrated to the United States, and started businesses featuring live music and dance in their new homeland.

During this period, countless Greek Egyptians were thrown out of Egypt in exile. As a result of this, Greek Egyptians wrote many songs expressing nostalgia for their homeland.

About Manolis Aggelopoulos

Manolis Aggelopoulos was a Greek legend. He was born in 1939 in northern Greece, to a Romany family. As a child, he traveled throughout Greece with his family's caravan selling everything from carpets to watermelons. The caravan trucks contained a microphone, so young Aggelopoulos broadcast his singing over the loudspeakers along the way.

His big break came in 1959 when he recorded his first 45 rpm vinyl record, bringing the mix of Greek-Tsigane-Arabic fusion into the Greek music scene. For Greeks and Greek-Romany he was a superstar. His funeral in 1989 was massive, and people cried for 3 days.

Manolis Aggelopolous

About Theodoros Derveniotis, the Composer and Lyricist

The composer of "Kairon", Theodoros Derveniotis, (nickname ‘O Hondros’), was born in 1922 in Zagora, a village in Greece. In the custom of Greeks to name children after their father's parents, O Hondros was named after his grandfather, Theodoros D. Derveniotis, a legendary folk musician.

Although the younger Theodoros appreciated folk music, he gradually fell in love with Byzantine and European music. Starting at age five, he was a Byzantine chanter at his church. Around the 1950's, Theodoros decided to try his luck as a music composer. He was self taught in several Greek instruments and reading music.

Derveniotis went on to work and collaborate with some of the biggest stars in Greek Rebetiko/Laiko music, including the great singer Stelios Kazandzidis. In 1959, this partnership came to an end due to Derveniotis deciding he'd had enough of the low income of 300 drachmas on his compositions.

When one door closes, another opens. Derveniotis moved on to his next venture of opening up a Laiko/Light musical school. His fame continued to grow, and he created countless new compositions for some of the greateast stars of Greek music. Theodoros Derveniotis passed away in 2004.

ABOUT THE PHOTO: This photo shows Theodoros Derveniotis, the legendary composer of many songs in the Greek rebetiko/laiko genre.

Theodoros Derveniotis

Song: Kairon (Cairo), 1959

Lyrics: Theodoros Dervenioti

Music: Theodoros Dervenioti

Original Artist: Manolis Aggelopoulos, Keti Gleri, Fofi Rasel

Dance Style: Belly Dance

Τραγούδι: Καιρον, 1959

Στίχοι: Θεόδωρος Δερβενιώτη

Μουσική: Θεόδωρος Δερβενιώτη

Πρώτη Εκτέλεση: Μανώλης Αγγελόπουλος, Καίτη Γλέρη, Φώφη Ρασέλ

Χορός: Οριεντάλ, Χορό Της Κοιλιάς, Ανατολίτικος Χορός, Τσιφτετέλι, Χανούμικο, Κελικός Χορός




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

Greek Lyrics


English Translation

Ο, ο, ο, ο, ο, οχχχχχ O, o, o, o, o, ohhhhh O, o, o, o, o, ohhhhh
Βράδια μαγεμένα vradia mayemena Magical nights
του Κάιρου tou Kairou of Cairo,
πόσο σας πονώ poso sas pono how much I ache for you.
πολιτεία εξωτική politia exotiki Exotic land
του Νείλου tou Nilou of the Nile,
δεν σε λησμονώ den se lismono I haven't forgotten you.
Λάγνες Αραπίνες lagnes Arapines Sexy Arab women, (1)
μαύρες Βεδουίνες Mavres Vedouines dark-skinned Bedouins
με κορμιά λαχταριστά me kormia lahtarista with desirable bodies.
στήθια πετρωμένα stithia petromena Bosoms like stone, (2)
χείλια φλογισμένα hilia floyismena fiery lips,
διψασμένα για φιλιά dipsasmena ya filia thirsty for kisses.
Ο, ο, ο, οχχχ O, o, o, ohhh O, o, o, ohhh,
Ο, ο, ο, οχχχ O, o, o, ohhh O, o, o, ohhh,
διψασμένα για φιλιά dipsasmena ya filia thirsty for kisses.
Ο, ο, ο, ο, ο, οχχχχχ O, o, o, o, o, ohhhhh O, o, o, o, o, ohhhhh
Τι και αν είναι τώρα μακριά σου ti ke an ine tora makria sou No matter how far away you are now,
τι και αν σ' έχασα ti ke an s' ehasa and [even] though I lost you,
την εξωτική την ομορφιά σου tin exotiki tin omorfia sou your exotic beauty,
δεν την ξέχασα den tin xehasa I haven't forgotten it.
Λάγνα πολιτεία lagna politia Sensual land,
όλο νοσταλγία olo nostalyia full of nostalgia,
μου γεμίζεις την καρδία mou yemizis tin kardia you fill my heart.
σε όπιο τόπο να 'με se opio topo na 'me Wherever I may be, (3)
πάντα θα θυμάμαι panda tha thimame I will always remember
μια χαμένη αγκαλιά mia hameni agalia a lost embrace.
Ο, ο, ο, οχχχ O, o, o, ohhh O, o, o, ohhh,
Ο, ο, ο, οχχχ O, o, o, ohhh O, o, o, ohhh,
μια καμένη αγκαλιά mia kameni agalia a burned love.
  1. Many of the old Greek songs use the word "Arapia" and its variants liberally. The lyrics generally use it to refer to Arabic-speaking 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 at the time 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.
  2. Probably means the breasts are perky.
  3. Literally, "no matter what country I'm in".



Translations of
Manolis Aggelopoulos' Songs On This Site

Translations of songs performed by Manolis Aggelopoulos on this web site include:



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.





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