Thanks to a posting by Lisa I’ve spent some time looking up information on Berthold Brecht. The name was familiar, and of course the internet provides lots of information. Wikipedia provides a good biography, along with the movie I remember him for, which is Threepenny Opera. You might not be familiar with Brecht or his opera, but I’m sure you older folk have heard parts of it, this is the version I am familiar with
The song covers what the star of the opera, Mack, is doing. One of the lines gives the names of Mack’s girlfriends, and he mentions Lotte Lenya. Her name isn’t in the opera, but she was the wife of composer Kurt Weill who wrote the music. She played Jenny Driver in the movie but didn’t sing the song in it. Kurt Gerron sang it in the original play
Kurt was a Jewish actor in Germany, and ended up ‘taking a shower’ in Aushwitz on the last day of its operation. As you can tell, I like old movies, especially the little details of them and the history behind movies, stories and music. It makes things more interesting.
That song is the introduction to the 1931 movie – oh, found a clip from it, with Mack walking around while his story is told. Ernst Busch sings it in the opening scene of the movie
Back to that song – two versions I really like. One by Louis Armstrong in 1956
And Lotte Lenya herself
Oh look – I can tie this back to my last city and one of my favorite authors, Neil Gaimen. His wife is Amanda Palmer, lead singer in the Dresden Dolls – here she is singing Pirate Jenny, another song from Threepenny Opera, at a performance at the House of Blues in San Diego
This reminds me of one of my favorite movies, another German movie from 1931, Fritz Lang’s M, with Peter Lorre in his first big role, that of a psychotic murderer ( what the M stands for)
And you can even watch the whole thing:
OK, thanks Lisa for prompting me to go back and find these things. Even if everyone else just scrolls through it at least I can come back here and find it (if YouTube keeps those videos up).