Saturday, July 4, 2015

Mack the Knife -- Louis Armstrong (1965)

My 9-year old son heard Satchmo singing "Hello Dolly" the other day and commented, "What a peculiar voice." This prompted a brief lesson in American music history from me. Yesterday, he heard the song below and said, "Ah, Louie Armstrong."

Oh, the shark has pretty teeth, dear
And he shows them, pearly white
Just a jackknife has MacHeath, dear
And he keeps it out of sight
When the shark bites with his teeth, dear
Scarlet billows start to spread
Fancy gloves though wears MacHeath, dear
So theres not a trace, mmm of red
On the sidewalk, Sunday mornin', baby
Lies a body, oozin' life
Someone sneakin' around the corner
Is the someone, Mack the Knife?
From a tugboat, by the river
A cement bag's drooppin' down
Yeah, the cement's just for the weight, dear
Bet you Mack, he's back in town
Looky here Louie Miller, disappeared, dear
After drawing out his cash
And MacHeath spends like a sailor
Did our boy do somethin' rash?
Sukey Tawdry, Jenny Diver
Lotte Lenya, Sweet Lucy Brown

 Oh, the line forms on the right, dears
Now that Mack, he's back in town
Take it, Satch
"And the ghastly fire in Soho,
Seven children at a go-
In the crowd stands Mack the knife, but
He's not asked and doesn't know.
And the child bride in her nightie,
Whose assailant's still at large
Violated in her slumbers-
Mackie how much did you charge?"

-- from the 1970s Joseph Papp production

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