I had a different post planned for today. But as I was looking for some music for the Music Spotlight sidebar, I stumbled across a great find that I had to share. I was looking for a song that would go with my last post--G is Great. But there aren't really any Grand Canyon songs, and I can only find The Bangles Walk Like An Egyptian for an Egypt themed song. Then I thought, I need some fun, atmospheric Greek music. I need to hear some bouzouki strings playing out Rebetiko music!
I found several before settling on Siko Xorepse Sirtaki by Aliki Vougiouklaki.
It's a great folk song that captures the Greek celebratory spirit. The festive music takes me back to Greece, especially the islands. Luv it!
But I also stumbled upon this jewel: Never on Sunday (1960).
It's a Greek black and white romantic comedy about a prostitute with a heart of gold who meets an American academic on vacation. She tries to loosen him up, and he tries to turn her into a lady. So it's My Fair Lady (1964) meets Pretty Woman (1990). I've never seen this film. But it's on my must see list now.
To be honest, I've been avoiding Greek films ever since I saw Zorba the Greek (1964). I loved Anthony Quinn's performance. He was amazing! The dancing and the music are fantastic. But the plot and characters are just awful. I really hated how this movie portrayed the Greek people as greedy, stupid, selfish, and murderous thieves. Just a gawd awful plot. And no amount of great dancing and good music could ever make up for the terrible, racist portrayal of the Greeks in this film. I hated the storyline and would NOT recommend this film! If you want to see good Greek dancing, Anthony Quinn's extraordinary performance, I suggest you google for those scenes instead of watching this film.
It took My Big Fat Greek Wedding (2002) to restore my faith in movie portrayals of the Greek people.
Back to our subject, imagine my surprise at discovering that the song "Never on Sunday", also known as "Ta Pediá tou Pireá", was the first song from a foreign film to win an Academy Award in 1960 for Best Original Song.
What's more incredible is that this popular song by Manos Hadjidakis has been an international hit recorded by many artists in many languages. There are versions by Bing Crosby, Lena Horne, Doris Day, Andy Williams, Trini Lopez, The 4 Seasons, Connie Francis, Eartha Kitt, Petula Clark, Ann-Margret, and The Chordettes, plus as an instrumental by Herb Alpert. Many other versions exist.
But as for me, my first exposure was from the Dutch music group Los Umbrellos, whose version is called No Tengo Dinero (1998):
Imagine my surprise to learn that No Tengo Dinero is a remake of Never on Sunday! And I actually like the original Greek version from the movie. But I couldn't find a good clip of the song from the movie. Thankfully, I found a great version sung by the actress from the movie, Melina Mercouri.
Melina Mercouri: Ta Pediá tou Pireá (The Children of Piraeus)
I like the original Greek version. And I also like the Los Umbrellos remake. But let's be clear here. The original Greek version is really a song sung by the prostitute about her life in Piraeus, expressing her joy and philosophy. Yes, the Greek version is about a prostitute!
But out of all the hit versions of this song, only one artist has elevated this song to another level, a more spirited and fabulous level. The Diva herself: Miss Piggy
The Muppets, Season 3 Episode 9, 14 October 1978, Presents Miss Piggy singing Never on Sunday:
I love bazooka music!