To sink into the Weimar mood that I’m in at the moment I wanted to post some tunes from the Kurt Weill / Bertolt Brecht collaboration The Three Penny Opera. I read on Wikipiedia that Simon Cowell has named “Mack the Knife” the best song ever written and so as not to find myself out of tune with American Idol we start with the Lotte Lenya version of “Die Moritat von Mackie Messer,” written by Weill for his wife, whose performance of it here is still my favorite.
A wonderful Marianne Faithfull for the lyrics in English:
And not to remain too downbeat, the magnificent Ella Fitzgerald swings it:
Cornball version by a couple people who “don’t know what it means”. Pearl, of course, could have explained it to Dinah since singing in black nightclubs in Philadelphia during the great depression as a teenager no doubt made her somewhat familiar with the Mackie Messer type. But then again since the other members of her race at the time of her performance with Dinah Shore were disallowed from using white bathrooms, sitting at white lunch counters, voting or any other number of social activities she no doubt decided that discretion was the better part of valor. I imagine the show was taped sometime in the mid -50s. On December 1, 1955 Rosa Parks was arrested for refusing t0 give her seat to a white person launching the Montgomery Bus Boycott along with Martin Luther King, Jr and Ralph Abernathy.:
Dino no doubt had a pretty good idea of what it was about:
An out of sight version by the super-great Louis Armstrong still in his prime in 1956. Of course, Louis now that I think of it, was always in his prime. Growing up in New Orleans at the turn of the century on the wrong side of the tracks, abandoned by his father and his mother a prostitute, Louis lived “Mack the Knife”:
And to take Weill/Brecht up into the roaring late 60s Jim Morrison (a man who knew his way around whiskey bars) doing Alabama Song:
2006 Three Penny Opera Tony Awards…. with Cyndi Lauper: