[–] BitChuteArchive ago 

[–] cynicaloldfart ago 

Sorry, this is a long one.

Kurt Weill and Bertolt Brecht wrote this song in 1928 for the German play The Threepenny Opera. "Mack" is Macheath, the title character, portrayed as a criminal. The original German version of this song is called "Theme from The Threepenny Opera," or "Moritat," which is the German word for "Murder Ballad." The light melody can make this feel like an upbeat song, but it contrasts sharply with the lyrics, which are about a murderer. Bobby Darin decided to perform this song when he saw a production of The Threepenny Opera in Greenwich Village in 1958. He thought up his own way of presenting the song, and started performing it in his nightclub act, where it was well received. Darin, however, had a teen idol image to uphold, and a song from the '20s about a murderous sot could derail that train quickly. He was recording for Atlantic Records, who made lots of good decisions, and label boss Ahmet Ertegun ordered it released as a single. Finally, in late August, the single came out and was a massive hit. Whatever teen idol cred Darin scrubbed, he more than made up for in adult appeal, as the song introduced him to an audience that went well beyond "Splish Splash." He became a regular on various TV shows, played a lot of high-end resorts and became the youngest headliner at the Sands Hotel in Las Vegas, where he was once a busboy. The song's success also earned him a second spot on The Ed Sullivan Show, where he made a total of six appearances.

The original German lyrics were far more graphic, making it clear that this is a murderer we're talking about. For American audiences, the translation was more ambiguous to soften the killings, essential in eluding censors in the conservative 1950s.

Here is how Marc Blitzstein softened the blow:

(German original) On a beautiful blue Sunday
Lies a dead man on the Strand

On the sidewalk, Sunday morning
Lies a body oozing life

(German original) Jenny Towler was found
With a knife in her chest
And on the wharf walks Mack the Knife

Louie Miller disappeared, dear
After drawing out his cash
And MacHeath spends like a sailor
Did our boy do something rash?

The lyrics have been translated in various ways on different versions, but the most popular translation was by the lyricist Marc Blitzstein for the 1954 off-Broadway revival of The Threepenny Opera, which ran until 1961 and played in Greenwich Village, New York. The translated lyrics from the production are what Louis Armstrong used in his 1956 version of the song and most of what Darin used in his. This translation used a lot of one-syllable words, which allowed swinging singers like Darin to personalize the song. On Darin's version, he added little bits like, "Five'll get ya ten old Macky's back in town" instead of "Bet you Mack, he's back in town."

"Mack the Knife" was introduced to the United States hit parade by Louis Armstrong in 1956. Ella Fitzgerald made a famous live recording in 1960 (released on Ella in Berlin: Mack the Knife) in which, after forgetting the lyrics after the first verse, she improvised new lyrics in a performance that earned her a Grammy Award:
"Oh what's the next chorus, to this song, now
This is the one, now I don't know
But it was a swinging tune and it's a hit tune
So we tried to do Mack the Knife

Oh Bobby Darin and Louis Armstrong
They made a record, oh but they did
And now Ella, Ella, and her fellas
We're making a wreck, what a wreck of Mack the Knife"

[–] derram ago