Tuesday 21 July 2009

Mack The Knife

“On a beautiful blue Sunday see a corpse stretched in the Strand. See a man dodge round the corner ... Mackie’s friends will understand”. For a while back there it seemed knife crime dominated the headlines. Outraged editorials bemoaning the collapse of family values in the Capital. Then the guardians of our moral welfare would go on Desert Island Discs and say how they don’t write songs like Mack The Knife anymore or put together novels like Oliver Twist. Well, we know what Dickens thought of Victorian family values in old London. Brecht and Weill’s Threepenny Opera was similarly based in a Victorian Soho, but the opening ballad has become so much a part of pop’s wallpaper that we sometimes forget its sinister subject matter. So many people have sung variations on its theme. Nick Cave’s interpretation, for example, was theatrically faithful, as befits a man who knows a thing or two about six inch gold blades. But Louis Armstrong sang the first pop version, and here appropriately in the same year he sings it in London during that historic visit ...

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