With Blitzstein's lyric, you can swing, you can rock or, if you're Bobby Darin, you can do a little bit of both. More versions of "Mack the Knife" have appeared on Billboard's Top 40 than any other song. One of those versions is by Ella Fitzgerald. In , Ms. Fitzgerald sang the song in Berlin, bringing it back to its birthplace. In a way, it was emblematic of the triumph of American music and lyrics in the 20th century.
The Germans, Brecht and Weill, may have assimilated American idioms into their work, but when Blitzstein translated Brecht's words into the American language and style, the song conquered the world. Your purchase helps support NPR programming. Accessibility links Skip to main content Keyboard shortcuts for audio player. NPR Shop. Will Friedwald Stardust Melodies Pantheon; 1st edition Hardcover: pages 27 pages including the following types of information: history, lyric analysis, music analysis, performers, recordings and song writer discussion.
Comment Policy Your comments are welcome, including why you like this tune, any musical challenges it presents, or additional background information. Jazz musicians, fans, and students of all ages use this website as an educational resource. As such, off-topic, off-color, unduly negative, and patently promotional comments will be removed. Once submitted, all comments become property of JazzStandards.
By posting, you give JazzStandards. More on This Tune. Audio samples are below the video player. Ella Fitzgerald. Jimmy Giuffre. Jessica Williams. Tito Puente.
The Oscar Peterson Trio. Andre Previn. Louis Armstrong And The Kurt Weill. The song was introduced to American audiences in in the first English-language production of The Threepenny Opera. In the best-known English translation , from the Marc Blitzstein version of The Threepenny Opera , which played Off-Broadway for over six years,  the words are:. Oh, the shark has pretty teeth, dear, And he shows them pearly white Just a jack-knife has Macheath, dear And he keeps it out of sight.
Blitzstein's translation provides the basis for most of the popular versions heard today, including those by Louis Armstrong and Bobby Darin ; Darin's lyrics differ slightly , and most subsequent swing versions. Weill's widow, Lotte Lenya , the star of both the original German production and the Blitzstein Broadway version, was present in the studio during Armstrong's recording. He spontaneously added her name to the lyrics "Look out, Miss Lotte Lenya" ,  which already named several of Macheath's female victims.
The Armstrong version was later used by Bobby Darin. The final stanza—not included in the original play, but added by Brecht for the film —expresses the theme and compares the glittering world of the rich and powerful with the dark world of the poor:.
There are some who are in darkness And the others are in light And you see the ones in brightness Those in darkness drop from sight. This version, simply known as " Moritat ", is an extension of the story with completely new lyrics that expound upon the tales of Macheath's trail of activity. Here is an excerpt:. See the shark with teeth like razors All can read his open face And Macheath has got a knife, but Not in such an obvious place.
This version was performed by Lyle Lovett on the soundtrack of the film Quiz Show. Darin's version plays over the opening credits and Lovett's over the closing credits. This interpretation was recorded by Sting and Nick Cave in the late s.
The new translation attempted to recapture the original tone of the song:. Though the shark's teeth may be lethal Still you see them white and red But you won't see Mackie's flick knife Cause he slashed you and you're dead. Dick Hyman recorded an instrumental version in Even though Darin was reluctant to release the song as a single,  in it reached number one on the Billboard Hot and number six on the Black Singles chart, and earned him a Grammy Award for Record of the Year.
In subsequent years, Clark recounted the story with good humor. Canon in D. Pachelbel, Johann. Piano Solo. Pirates of the Caribbean. Radnich, Jarrod. Cohen, Leonard. Vincent Starry Starry Night.
McLean, Don. Dance Monkey. Tones and I. Easy Piano. You Are the Reason. Scott, Calum. Howl's Moving Castle. Happy Birthday to You! May, Jonny. Heart and Soul. Carmichael, Hoagy.Deana Martin recorded "Mack the Knife" on her second studio album, Volare, released in by Big Fish Records. Frank Sinatra added the song to his repertoire in in an arrangement by Frank Foster ;  Sinatra and Jimmy Buffett recorded a duet of the song for Sinatra's final album Duets II ().