Louis Armstrong 🎺

Louis Armstrong was born in New Orleans on 4 August 1901

In 2016 his and Bobby Darin’s versions of “Mack the Knife” were inducted by the Library of Congress in the National Recording Registry.

The song “Die Moritat von Mackie Messer” from “Die Dreigroschenoper” (“The Threepenny Opera”) by Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill , was introduced to American audiences in 1933 with the first English-language production of the German musical drama . It soon became a popular song, now a jazz standard that Louis Armstrong, Bobby Darin, Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra, Michael Bublé, Robbie Williams, Ray Quinn, and many others have covered.

The lyrics have been translated in various ways on different versions, but the most popular translation was by the lyricist Marc Blitzstein and it was introduced to the United States hit parade by Louis Armstrong in 1956. On that occasion of its recording Armstrong improvised the line “Look out for Miss Lotte Lenya!” adding her name to the list of Mack’s female conquests.
Lotte Lenya was the widow of the song’s co-writer Kurt Weill (she had played Jenny in the original production), present in the studio that day.
Subsequent versions of the song were based on Armstrong’s lyrics, so this mistake lived on.

Mack the Knife 🔪

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 there? s not a trace, mmm of red

On the sidewalk, Sunday mornin’, baby
Lies a body, oozin’ life
Someone sneakin’ around the corner
Is that 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

In The Threepenny Opera, John Macheath is known as Mackie Messer (Messer is German for knife): Mack The Knife.
The song announces that Mack the Knife is back to town, followed by dead bodies floating in the water, blood, and the disappearance of a man just after withdrawing a lot of money,
He is compared to a shark; they both are predators but the difference between them is that the shark brandishes its weapon in plain sight, while Mack keeps his knife, which is always ready to kill, well hidden.
A series of female victim follows : they are all characters in The Threepenny Opera, except one. Lotte Lenya, the widow of the song’s co-writer Kurt Weill
Lotte Lenya was an actress who had played both in the original 1929 German and the 1954 Broadway version.
That day she was in the studio and her name was inserted into the lyrics where Polly Peachum was supposed to be.
Subsequent versions of the song were based on Armstrong’s lyrics, so this mistake lived on.

The light melody, its upbeat sound rubs against the darkness of the lyrics depicting a thief, womanizer, and serial killer.


🎼 🔪 🎶 🦈 🎶


“Mack the Knife” (Mack il coltello) 🔪

Oh, lo squalo ha dei bei denti, cara
e li mostra, bianco perla
MacHeath ha solo un coltello
e lo tiene ben nascosto.

Sai, quando quello squalo morde
con i suoi denti, cara
si spargono flutti scarlatti.
Però MacHeath indossa guanti eleganti
e non mostra mai nessuna traccia di rosso.

Sul marciapiede, domenica mattina, piccola
giace un corpo che stilla vita.
Qualcuno striscia furtivamente dietro l’angolo:
quel qualcuno è Mack the Knife?

Da un rimorchiatore, in riva al fiume
un sacco di cemento cade giù-
Sì, il cemento è per far peso, cara
Scommetto che Mack è tornato in città

Guarda qui Louie Miller, scomparso,
dopo aver prelevato i suoi contanti
E MacHeath spende come un marinaio:
il ragazzo ha fatto qualcosa di avventato?

Sukey Tawdry, Jenny Diver
Lotte Lenya, la dolce Lucy Brown
Oh, le cose diventano ovvie, cari
ora che Mack è tornato in città
(L.Z.)

66 thoughts on “Louis Armstrong 🎺

  1. Thank you, Louisa. It was great hearing him again, i do love Louis Armstrong, what a musician, singer and strong personality.
    Both he and this song are known around the world.

    Miriam

    Like

  2. Ciao Luisa cara!! Non sono passata su wp in quest’ultima settimana perchè non sono stata bene e mi sei mancata tanto!!!
    Grazie per la traduzione, questa volta, senza, per me sarebbe stata un pò dura😅
    Buona serata ❤❤❤❤

    Liked by 1 person

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