The Sheik Of Araby

Release date: 20 November 1995

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"The Sheik of Araby"

Sheet music
Music by Ted Snyder
Lyrics by Harry B. Smith, Francis Wheeler
Published 1921
Form Jazz standard

"The Sheik of Araby" is a song that was written by Harry B. Smith, Francis Wheeler and music by Ted Snyder in 1921. It was composed in response to the popularity of the Rudolph Valentino film The Sheik. In 1926, to go with the film "The Son of the Sheik" Ted Snyder worked parts of the melody into a related song with words by Billy Rose: "That Night in Araby".

It was a Tin Pan Alley hit, and was also adopted by early jazz bands, especially in New Orleans, making it a jazz standard. It was a well recognized part of popular culture, earning a mention in The Great Gatsby. In 1926, Fleischer Studios released a cartoon with this song, recorded in Phonofilm, as part of their Song Car-Tunes series, and a live action short with this title was filmed in Phonofilm in the UK, directed by Miles Mander.

The "Araby" in the title refers to Arabia or the Arabian Peninsula.

The song featured in the film Valentino (1977) with words of parody by Ken Russell, performed by Chris Ellis. A verse also appears in the novel The Great Gatsby (1925) by F. Scott Fitzgerald.

The appeal to New Orleans bands may have lain in "Araby" sharing the same pronunciation as Arabi, LA, a town downriver from New Orleans' 9th Ward and a center for gambling just outside city limits until the early 1950s.

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