“Die Moritat von Mackie Messer” was written by Kurt Weill with lyrics by Bertolt Brecht for Weill’s Die Dreigroschenoper (The Threepenny Opera). It was first performed in Berlin in 1928. Lotte Lenya, Weill’s wife, sang the song in the original production and in the 1954 Broadway revival (with English lyrics by Marc Blitzstein).
Of course, we know the song better as “Mack the Knife.” Louis Armstrong was the first to record it, in 1956. Lotte Lenya was in the studio when he did, and he spontaneously used her name as one of Mack’s victims at the end of the song. Bobby Darin did Armstrong’s version in 1959, and that version is probably the best-known. Ella Fitzgerald recorded her first version live in 1960 for the album Ella in Berlin. She drew a blank on the lyrics after the first verse, so she improvised lyrics and scat-sang her way through the rest of it. That version won a Grammy.
None of the previous versions of the song are in this Battle, by the way. I picked a couple of versions that I had never heard prior to my putting together. Let’s get to them now.
CONTESTANT #1: Dee Snider
Twisted Sister’s lead singer recorded a version of the song for his 2012 project, Dee Does Broadway. Coming soon to a theater near you (evidently), featuring Clay Aiken, Patti LuPone, Cyndi Lauper, and Bebe Neuwirth.
CONTESTANT #2: Dave Van Ronk
This version is from 1967, from his album Live at Sir George Williams University.
So those are our contestants for round. Which version do you prefer, the big band/metal version by Dee Snider, or the folk version by Dave Van Ronk? If you can’t answer that, then which version annoys you least? Whatever you base your vote on, this would be the time to express your preference, and, if you wish, jot down a few reasons why.
And when you’ve finished voting here, many of the following blogs are doing their own Battle of the Bands today. How about dropping in on them?
Tossing It Out
Far Away Series
StMcC Presents Battle of the Bands
Your Daily Dose
Curious as a Cathy
DC Relief – Battle of the Bands
This Belle Rocks
Alex J. Cavanaugh
Shady Dell Music & Memories
Debbie D. at The Doglady’s Den
Jingle Jangle Jungle
Women: We Shall Overcome
Cherdo on the Flipside
Results will be announced next Wednesday, July 8.