Saturday, May 14, 2011

Bobby Darin--Mack the Knife (1959)

     Today Bobby Darin would have been 75....

      The story of Mack the Knife has it's origins in Britain and Germany. It was composed by Kurt Weill and Bertoit Brecht for their drama "Die Dreigroachenoper" or in English, "The Threepenny Opera", and premiered in Berlin in 1928.
      The opera is based on the deadly Mackie Messer who himself was patterned after the highwayman Macheath in John Gay's, The Begger's Opera. The opera was translated into English in 1933, but was a flop on Broadway (although it did achieve some success off-Broadway). The first swing version was done by  Louis Armstrong in 1956. Interestingly enough the jazz great's use of the name Lottie Lenya was a total improv in honor of Weill's widow who was in the studio at the time of Armstrong's recording. This also became a part of Darin's version.

      One more story before we hear the song. Before choosing it, Dick Clark advised Darin not to record it since he thought that it being from an opera would turn off teen fans (obviously he didn't have a problem with the subject matter). Clark liked to laughingly refer to this story for years afterward....


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