Cover Song Of The Month: Frank Sinatra and Jimmy Buffett Do Mack The KnifePosted: July 7, 2010
Mack The Knife is a well-known tune from a play called Three Penny Opera, or in its native German, Die Driegroschenoper. The Three Penny Opera was written by Kurt Weill and Bertolt Brecht.
I am telling you that off the top of my head, from my own personal knowledge of German plays from the 1920’s. I have a special affinity for German plays of the 1920’s featuring the work of Weill and Brecht. So there should be no doubt in your mind as we discuss the background of this song, or of 1920’s German musical theater in general, that everything I say is my own opinion based on extensive personal knowledge.
In the discussions I had with Weill and Brecht prior to their passing, I asked them about the various versions of their song. They were never sure whose recording was the original. One time, Frank Sinatra happened by and opined that the version recorded by Bobby Darin was the standard against which others should be measured. Kurt and Bertolt agreed.
After we settled that issue, Frank and I went out on the town while Kurt and Bertolt caught up on some sleep…but that is another story.
Because of those talks, we’re going to use Darin’s version of the song as our “original”.
Try not to be creeped out by the fact that if you watched the entire video you got the feeling Bobby Darin was staring at you the whole time. This version of the song just feels very 50’s Vegas lounge-ish to me. I think that is pretty cool. I love the big horn section and that some one yells out Ho! Ho! in the middle of the song. I don’t know why I like the Ho! Ho!, I just do.
Dat Bum’s In Town
Now the Sinatra/Buffett version. My dad has always liked Sinatra. He grew up in the same town and knew Sinatra’s father. I am a big Buffett fan. I doubt they were actually in the same building to put this song together, but I like it a lot. So let’s have a listen at Frank and Jimmy’s version of Mack The Knife.
Hmmm…Vegas lounge-ish feel, big horns. I like them trading lines back and forth. They throw in their individual regional pronunciations (Jimmy with the southern pronunciation of cement “cee-ment”; Frank declaring “dat bum’s in town”) which is nice.
I officially declare myself a fan of both versions, so I open it up to you for the final verdict on the superior version. The poll and the comments are now open for all you swingin’ cats and kittens to weigh in.