Happy Birthday Burt Bacharach.

Burt Bacharach is one of the must influential composers of popular music, of the 20th century.

Born in Kansas City, Missouri on 12th May 1928, Burt Bacharach grew up in Forest Hills, an upper middle suburb of New York City. Although Bacharach began taking piano lessons at the age of eight, his musical breakthrough came at fifteen years old when he began sneaking into Manhattan’s jazz clubs to see both Dizzy Gillespie and the Count Basie Band perform.

His music is characterized by unusual chord progressions, influenced by his background in jazz harmony, and uncommon selections of instruments for small orchestras. Most of Bacharach’s and David’s hits were written specifically for and performed by Dionne Warwick, but earlier associations (from 1957 to 1963) saw the composing duo work with Marty Robbins, Perry Como, Gene McDaniels, and Jerry Butler. Following the initial success of these collaborations, Bacharach went on to write hits for Gene Pitney, Cilla Black, Dusty Springfield, Jackie DeShannon, Bobbie Gentry, Tom Jones, Herb Alpert, B. J. Thomas, the Carpenters, among numerous other artists. He arranged, conducted, and produced much of his recorded output.

A six-time Grammy Award winner and three-time Academy Award winner, Bacharach’s songs have been recorded by more than 1,000 different artists. As of 2014, he had written 73 US and 52 UK Top 40 hits.

Today he is celebrating his 94th birthday.

This is just one of his many songs he co wrote with Carole Bayer Sager

sources

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Burt_Bacharach

Café Alcazar Amsterdam

On 9 February 1941. members of the Dutch Nazi party, NSB, assisted by German soldiers, forced their way into the café-cabaret ‘Alcazar’ on Thorbeckeplein because Jewish artists were still performing there. This led to a brawl in which 23 people were injured.

Clara de Vries was a jazz trumpet player. Her performing at Cabaret Alcazar was one of the reasons that prompted the Nazis to raid Alcazar. A law had passed previously, forbidding all Jewish musicians and artists to perform in Non Jewish clubs.

Clara was a well accomplished Jazz trumpetist, and by all accounts an exceptionally talented one. Louis Armstrong once said of her “That Louis de Vries, he had a sister Clara with a ladies-band. Oh boy, she could play that horn!” Her brother Louis, another Trumpetist, was often referred to as the Dutch Louis Armstrong. Clara was murdered in Auschwitz on October 22,1942.

The February 9 incident led to the riots of 11 February in which the Dutch Nazi ,Hendrik Koot, was severely injured and led to his death a few days later on February 14,1941.

The response was immediate. The Jewish neighborhood was sealed off by Nazi authorities, technically beginning the Amsterdam ghetto,[and a Judenrat was put in place. Protests broke out, and the raid on an ice cream parlor, a known hangout for a Jewish knokploeg, saw Nazi police forces being attacked in retaliation, possibly sprayed with acid. The Nazis decided to round up a large number of Jewish men, and that gave the local Communist resistance groups an opportunity to agitate the population enough to start a strike, and widespread strikes started the following Tuesday, 25 February. Dutch police response was moderate, and the Nazi authorities were not pleased . Troops were sent in to break the strike, and posters explaining the death of Koot were put up in an attempt to justify military action.

Café Alcazar, however, had also been a hiding places for 14 Jewish people.

In 1983, during the renovation of a nightclub on the Thorbeckeplein, a film that had been made there forty years ago surfaced. The film wascalled Duikjoodbasis,(Jewish hiding place) and the screenplay was written by the then thirteen-year-old Henry Robinski. It was made with and by the fourteen Jews who were in hiding above the nightclub Alcazar until May 28, 1943. Hendrik Swaab, who conceived the idea for the film in 1943, said in 1983 in the NIW(New Israeli Weekly) that the reason for making the film was boredom.

Making a film would give the people in hiding some distraction. The film was shot between July 1942 and April 1943 and was shot by a resistance member who had worked for a film company before the war.

Now Duikjoodbasis is unique: no other film recordings are known that were made at a hiding place.

sources

https://www.joodsmonument.nl/nl/page/457142/initiatiefnemer-film-duikjoodbasis

https://portal.ehri-project.eu/units/nl-002896-mf759708

https://collections.ushmm.org/search/catalog/irn1004588

Music in Westerbork.

Compared to other concentration camps ,Westerbork was ‘reasonably’ safe and life was less harsh there, But that is also what made it a more sinister place.

From 1942 to 1945, Westerbork was a transit camp (Durchgangslager) located in the Netherlands. As a transit camp, Westerbork served as a temporary collection point for Jews in the Netherlands prior to their deportation by the Germans to killing centers and concentration camps in the east.

Westerbork was originally established in 1939 by the Dutch before the German invasion of the Netherlands. It began as a refugee camp for German Jewish refugees who had fled Nazi persecution.

The Nazis created an illusion that all of the measures they had introduced for the Jews were only temporary. They even had a football league in the camp.

Music also played a big part in Westerbork. The picture at the start of the blog is of Jazz violinist Benny Behr. He is playing for some of the children of the camp. For them he would play uplifting children’s songs. Fr older people who would also play classical pieces.

Benny Behr was married to a non-Jewish woman, Wien Bouwina Sijtina Havinga. Because of that he enjoyed freedoms which other Jews did not have. But these freedoms were only temporary On August 1,1944 Benny ended up in Westerbork, where he remained until the camp was liberated in April 1945.

The Westerbork Serenade is the title of a love song written by Dutch singing duo,Nol (Arnold Siméon) van Wesel and Max (Salomon Meyer) Kannewasser aka Johnny and Jones, just before their deportation to Auschwitz in 1944. The play tells the true story of Jewish cabaret performers held by the Nazis in the Dutch transit camp of Westerbork, and portrays songs and vaudeville sketches that were actually staged in the camp revues. Some of Berlin’s greatest stars performed at Westerbork, thereby delaying their transport to death camps.

In 1943 Max,Nol and their wives were arrested and were send to the Westerbork transit camp.In the camp they performed once under the name Jonny und Jones because only the German language was allowed during performances. In 1944 they were sent on a day’s work assignment from Westerbork to Amsterdam, during which they managed to secretly record the song “Westerbork Serenade”.

The song starts off , with them singing that they don’t feel like themselves and that they aren’t great. Their hearts beat like the airplane demolishing yard, which was actually the job assigned to them in the camp, dismantling crashed warplanes.

This the translation of the lyrics

Hello we feel a little out of order,
To pull myself together is quite hard,
Suddenly I’m a different person,
My heart beats like the airplane wrecking yard.

I sing my Westerbork serenade,
Along the little rail-way the tiny silver moon shines
On the heath.
I sing my Westerbork serenade
With a pretty lady walking there together,
Cheek to cheek.
And my heart burns like the boiler in the boiler house,
Oh it never hit me quite like this at Mother’s place
I sing my Westerbork serenade,
In between the barracks I threw my arms around her
Over there
This Westerbork love affair.
And so I went over to the medic,
The guy says: “there is nothing you can do;
Oh but you will feel a whole lot better
After you give her a kiss or two
(But that you must not do…)”

Even in this dark period they managed to keep composure and a sense of humour.

On 4 September 1944 Van Wesel and Kannewasser were deported on one of the last transports from Westerbork to a number of concentration camps: Theresienstadt, Auschwitz, Sachsenhausen, Ohrdruf and Bergen-Belsen. They died of exhaustion during the last days of the war in 1945.

Transports were a traumatic experience for Jews in Westerbork. Witness testimonies mention confusion, distress, and brutality. For example, Dutch-Jewish journalist Philip Mechanicus, who kept a diary of life in Westerbork, described a transport that took place on June 1, 1943. He wrote:

“The transports are as nauseating as ever.… Men, quiet, stone-faced; women, often in tears. The elderly: stumbling, faltering under their burden, tripping on the bad road sometimes into pools of mud…. Whoever hesitates, whoever dawdles, is being assisted; sometimes herded, sometimes shoved, sometimes beaten, sometimes punched, sometimes persuaded by a boot, quickly shoved aboard the train…. When the cars are full, the prescribed number of deportees having been loaded, the cars are sealed…. The commandant signals the departure: a wave of the hand. The whistle sounds … a heart-rending sound is heard by everyone in the camp. The grungy snake, now fully loaded, crawls away.”

The transport Mechanicus describes included 3,006 people. It arrived at the Sobibor killing center on June 3, 1943. Jules Schelvis, who had spent six days in Westerbork prior to deportation, was the only known survivor of this transport.

Looking back at the picture at the start of the blog. When you take it out of context, you might think it is a group of scruffy kids hassling a violin player. However when you put it in the context of Westerbork and the Holocaust, there is the realisation that most, if not all, of these kids listening to the music in Westerbork, will have been murdered shorty afterwards. And that knowledge breaks my heart.

sources

Home

https://westerborkportretten.nl/bevrijdingsportretten/benny-behr

https://encyclopedia.ushmm.org/content/en/article/westerbork

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Josephine Baker- Not just a sex icon but also a WWII hero.

Josephine Baker is mainly remembered for her erotic and provocative dances, vaudeville routines, and appearances in films. However her efforts to fight the tyranny of Fascism have received very little attention.

She was born as Freda Josephine McDonald in St. Louis, Missouri. Her mother, Carrie, was adopted in Little Rock, Arkansas, in 1886 by Richard and Elvira McDonald, both of whom were former slaves of African and Native American descent. Her career began with blackface comedy at local clubs. her mother did not approve of this type of “entertainment” .But it was because of these performances Josephine had an opportunity to tour in Paris, which would become the place she called home until her final days.

Her performance in the revue Un vent de folie in 1927 caused a sensation in the city. Her costume, consisting of only a short skirt of artificial bananas and a beaded necklace, became an iconic image and a symbol both of the Jazz Age and the Roaring Twenties.

When the German army invaded France during World War II, Baker joined the fight against the Nazi regime.

Baker left Paris and went to the Château des Milandes, her home in the south of France. She had been approached by Jacques Abtey, the head of French counter-military intelligence. Abtey was recruiting people for espionage duties.

Josephine was an ideal candidate for this work, as her celebrity allowed her to move easily between countries and offered her enhanced protection. When Abtey approached Josephine to see if she would take the risk and join the resistance, she told him. “France made me what I am. I will be grateful forever. The people of Paris have given me everything… I am ready, captain, to give them my life. You can use me as you wish.” . Being able to travel to neutral nations such as Portugal, as well as some in South America. She could carry information for transmission to England, about airfields, harbors, and German troop concentrations in the West of France.

She housed people who were eager to help the Free French effort led by Charles de Gaulle and supplied them with visas. She aided French military officials by passing on secrets she heard while performing in front of the enemy. The Nazis found out of the resistance activity happening at Josephine’s chateau, and went to the estate. Josephine had been hiding several resistance fighters at the time of the visit. She successfully charmed the Nazis when they questioned her, but the visit had become a bit too close for comfort and she took the close encounter as a sign that it was time to leave France. Abtey contacted General Charles de Gaulle, who instructed both Abtey and Baker to travel to London via Lisbon.Between them, the pair carried over 50 classified documents and secret intelligence. Josephine carried hers by writing the information down in invisible ink on her sheet music.

After D-Day and the liberation of Paris, Josephine returned to her adopted Paris wearing a military uniform. She quickly took note of the terrible conditions many French people endured after the Nazi occupation. She sold pieces of jewelry and other valuables to raise money to buy food and coal for the poor citizens of Paris. Following Germany’s surrender in 1945, General de Gaulle awarded Josephine the Croix de Guerre and the Rosette de la Résistance. He also named her a Chevalier de Légion d’honneur, the highest order of merit for military and civil action.

A few years after the war she returned to the USA. Ironically she regularly received less respect at home then she did from the Nazis. Baker had to confront segregation and discrimination which she had not experienced since she was a child in St. Louis. She often refused to perform to segregated audiences, which usually forced club owners to integrate for her shows. For this she would often received threatening phone calls from the KKK.

In her later years, Baker converted to Roman Catholicism. She lost her castle due to unpaid debts. Grace Kelly aka Princess Grace offered her an apartment in Roquebrune, not too far away Monaco.[

Baker was back performing at the Olympia in Paris in 1968, in Belgrade and at Carnegie Hall in 1973, and at the Royal Variety Performance at the London Palladium and at the Gala du Cirque in Paris in 1974. On 8 April 1975, Baker starred in a retrospective revue at the Bobino in Paris, Joséphine à Bobino 1975, celebrating her 50th anniversary in show business. The revue, paid for by notably by Prince Rainier, Princess Grace, and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, opened to rave reviews. The demand for seating was such that foldable chairs had to be added to seat all attendees . The opening night audience included Sophia Loren, Mick Jagger, Shirley Bassey, Diana Ross, and Liza Minnelli.

On April 12, 1975 , Josephine Baker was found peacefully in her bed around her were newspapers with glowing reviews of her performance. She was in a coma after suffering a cerebral hemorrhage. She was taken to Pitié-Salpêtrière Hospital, she died there the same day , aged 68.

She was a beautiful woman in every sense of the word.

Donation

I am passionate about my site and I know you all like reading my blogs. I have been doing this at no cost and will continue to do so. All I ask is for a voluntary donation of $2 ,however if you are not in a position to do so I can fully understand, maybe next time then. Thanks To donate click on the credit/debit card icon of the card you will use. If you want to donate more then $2 just add a higher number in the box left from the paypal link. Many thanks

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sources

https://www.nationalww2museum.org/war/articles/siren-resistance-artistry-and-espionage-josephine-baker

https://www.womenshistory.org/education-resources/biographies/josephine-baker

https://www.history.com/news/josephine-baker-world-war-ii-spy

Happily ever now- My interview with Sandra Mae Lux

Music suits the savage beast and when you have a very talented and skillful musician playing great music it can really lift your heart.

This is my interview with Sandra Mae Lux about her album Happily ever now.

Enjoy, there is a nice Christmas treat at the end.

Clara de Vries-Jazz Musician murdered in Auschwitz.

It is funny sometimes how you are researching one thing and it leads you to something completely different.
I was looking at the origin of a Dutch TV show called ‘Ter land.ter zee en in de lucht” which translates to on the land, in the sea and in the air. It was a light-hearted entertainment show where candidates from all over the Netherlands demonstrate in open air how long and far, they can keep going (sometimes only a few meters) in a self-constructed sort of go-cart, before crashing mostly in to water. But for most it was really more for showing off the design of their ‘vehicles’ rather than winning.
While I was researching it ,I noticed a piece of music used for the show called the beach party, which was performed by a Jazz musician called Willy Schobben, a Jazz trumpetist from Maastricht which is a city I know well because I grew up only a few mile away from it.
When I looked up Willy Schobben, I discovered he married Clara de Vries in 1936, like Willy Clara was also a Jazz trumpetist, and by all accounts an exceptionally talented one. Louis Armstrong once said of her “That Louis de Vries, he had a sister Clara with a ladies-band. Oh boy, she could play that horn!” Her brother Louis, another Trumpetist, was often referred to as the Dutch Louis Armstrong. Unfortunately, he died in a car crash in 1935.
Clara was the sister of Louis de Vries and Jack de Vries, received trumpet lessons from her father Arend de Vries. So, she had quite a musical pedigree.
She played in several Jazz Bands like: Shirmann Jazz Girls; Clara de Vries and her Jazz-ladies; The Rosian Ladies; the Swinging Rascals; and several other bands.

Her talent though was soon to be destroyed, Clara was Jewish and when the German invaded the Netherlands on May 10, 1940 her fate and that of many other Jews was sealed. Added to that she played Jazz, which was considered degenerate art by the Nazis. Jewish musicians were also forbidden to perform for non-Jewish people and later they were forbidden to perform their art at all
On February 9, 1941 Clara was still giving concerts outside the Jewish quarter of Amsterdam in the Café-Cabaret Alcazar. The NSB, the Dutch Nazis, had heard there was a Jewish musician playing in the club and raided the place. Which led to fights and 23 people were injured.
Clara however, refused to stop playing concerts.
On October 15, 1942 Clara and her family were arrested and sent to Westerbork, A few days later, on October 21 she was put on transport to Auschwitz where she was murdered on arrival a day later, on October 22.
Except for her brother Jakob, all her siblings and parents were murdered.

Donation

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sources

https://www.joodsmonument.nl/nl/page/507961/about-clara-johanna-suzanna-de-vries


http://www.nettyvanhoorn.nl/sweet_and_hot_music.html

http://resources.huygens.knaw.nl/vrouwenlexicon/lemmata/data/Vriesde

The Jazz Standard the Nazis could not destroy.

I was reminded of this song while I was watching “the Man in the Castle”. So many musicians were murdered during the Holocaust Musicians like the talented composer Gideon Klein

The youngest Jewish composer murdered during the Holocaust, Gideon Klein was only 26 when he was murdered in the Fürstengrube sub-camp near Auschwitz. His oeuvre fuses Jewish themes with modern composition techniques. In 1940, he was offered a scholarship at the Royal Academy of Music in London. This could have saved his life, but he was not allowed to travel from Prague.

Sources

https://www.dw.com/en/jewish-composers-who-died-during-the-holocaust-but-whose-music-lives-on/g-43567006

https://dirkdeklein.net/2018/07/19/captain-macheath-the-story-behind-mack-the-knife/

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I am passionate about my site and I know you all like reading my blogs. I have been doing this at no cost and will continue to do so. All I ask is for a voluntary donation of $2 ,however if you are not in a position to do so I can fully understand, maybe next time then. Thanks To donate click on the credit/debit card icon of the card you will use. If you want to donate more then $2 just add a higher number in the box left from the paypal link. Many thanks

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Bei Mir Bistu Shein- The Ghetto swingers.

 

Ghetto

Music soothes the savage beast, that is what Eric Vogel  must have thought when he send a petition to the Commander of the Theresienstadt camp on January 8, 1943  , to start a Jazz band, named the Ghetto Swingers. The band would include the following members he noted.

Dr. Brammer (piano), Dr. Kurt Bauer (percussion), Fr. Goldschmidt (guitar), Fasal (bass), Ing. Vogel (trumpet), Langer (tenor sax and clarinet), and Fr. Mautner (trombone)

pettition

As crazy as it may seem the request was granted and the band was formed.The Jewish prisoners organized in the ghetto a lively cultural scene including jazz music.

The Jazz classic “„I Got Rhythm“ by George Gershwin became the theme tune of the band. One of the prisoners favourite song was the 1932 song Bei Mir Bistu Shein composed  by  Sholom Secunda. The song is better known as Bei mir bist du schön , The Andrew Sisters had a hit with the song in 1936.

The Ghetto Singers also included guitarist Coco Schumann  Kurt Gerron and clarinetist Bedřich “Fritz” Weiss, who had joined later.

After being pressurized following the deportation of Danish Jews to Theresienstadt, the Germans permitted representatives from the Danish Red Cross and the International Red Cross to visit in June 1944

After the Red Cross inspection, Commandant Rahm instructed Gerron to make a propaganda film.  Filming took place over eleven days between 16 August and 11 September 194.The Ghetto Swingers participated in this Nazi propaganda film “Theresienstadt: A Documentary Film from the Jewish Settlement Area” which is also known as albeit with the  erroneous name “The Fuehrer gave the Jews a city.”

After the camp closed, the members of the jazz band were sent to Auschwitz.

In Auschwitz Coco Schumann had to play for the SS hangmen, “for hours and hours every day, especially when they tattooed the new arrivals, because they considered it such boring work. Four members survived among those 4 were Vogel, Schumann and Roman

Ending this blog with the aforementioned ‘Bei Mir Bistu Shein’ played by the Ghetto Swingers.

 

 

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I am passionate about my site and I know you all like reading my blogs. I have been doing this at no cost and will continue to do so. All I ask is for a voluntary donation of $2 ,however if you are not in a position to do so I can fully understand, maybe next time then. Thanks To donate click on the credit/debit card icon of the card you will use. If you want to donate more then $2 just add a higher number in the box left from the paypal link. Many thanks

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Sources

You Tube

Geni

Huffpost

 

Django’s lucky escape

Django

The title of this blog is not referring to a Western film, it is actually referring to an extraordinary event during WWII.

Django Reinhard is one of my favourite guitarists it is actually because of him (and Jim Croce) I picked up a guitar myself. Although I am an admirer of his music and even more his style of playing I didn’t know too much about Django during WWII. I had always assumed he had escaped Europe on time.

It was only after watching a documentary on BBC 4 called Tunes for Tyrants, presented by Suzy Klein, I discovered that Django not only survived the war he also thrived.

You may think “What is so extraordinary about that?” Django was a Belgian born Roma French jazz guitarist. Three words in the last line is what makes it extraordinary, Roma Jazz Guitarist.

Roma’s were persecuted in Nazi occupied Europe, about 1 million Roma-Gypsies perished in extermination camps or as a result of forced labour.

Jazz was considered degenerate music in the Third Reich.

degenerate

However Jazz was allowed in Paris, because Hitler did not care about the ‘spiritual well being’ of the French. Django had lived in the UK before the war but had returned to Paris when the war broke out in 1939,leaving his wife behind and eventually divorcing her.

In 1943, Reinhardt married Sophie Ziegler in Salbris. The could had a son, Babik Reinhardt.

Because Django and his family were Roma, he tried to escape Nazi occupied France, His first attempt failed he and his family were caught ,but lady luck smiled on them for a Luftwaffe officer Dietrich Schulz-Köhn,who was an ardent Jazz fan and knew Django and his music, allowed Django and his family return to Paris. If Köhn would not have done that the Reinhard family would have surely ended up in a concentration camp.

Django remained nervous though for he knew there was always a chance that he’d still be arrested some day and be sent away. Although he did attempt to flee France again, he was send back at the Swiss border.

He remained in Paris and his music was enjoyed by the Parisians but also by the Nazis. Django actually managed to make quite a bit of money during those years. One of his songs, “Nuages,” did  become an unofficial anthem in Paris to signify hope for liberation.

He did change his musical direction somewhat though, because Jazz although allowed in Paris was still considered degenerate music, and the laisse faire attitude the Nazis in Paris had towards it  could change any minute. He attempted to  He tried to write a Mass for the Gypsies and a symphony.

Django guitar

I would really recommend watching the 3 part documentary series ‘Tunes for Tyrants’ on BBC 4. It gives a great overview of the musical history during the world war 2 era and the years before it.

Ending this blog withe the aforementioned “Nuages”

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I am passionate about my site and I know you all like reading my blogs. I have been doing this at no cost and will continue to do so. All I ask is for a voluntary donation of $2 ,however if you are not in a position to do so I can fully understand, maybe next time then. Thanks To donate click on the credit/debit card icon of the card you will use. If you want to donate more then $2 just add a higher number in the box left from the paypal link. Many thanks

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Captain Macheath- The story behind Mack the Knife.

knife

Mack the Knife is one of my favourite Jazz songs,  I love the Bobby Darin and Louis Armstrong versions equally. It just doesn’t get cooler then that song, sung by those 2 performers, although Sammy Davis Jr, does a pretty cool rendition also.

Even though  I have admired this song for decades. it is only recently I discovered the actual history of the song. I always thought it was written in the 50s.

The song was composed in 1928 in Berlin by Kurt Weil amd Berolt Brecht provided the lyrics.

Weil was Jewish while  Brecht was a Christian, his mother was a Protestant and his Father was Catholic , but he was an opponent  of the Nazi regime and had Marxist sympathies .Both men fled Germany in the early 30s for fear of persecution. They both ended up in the US, although Brecht eventually returned to East Berlin after the war.

They had written the music drama called “The Three penny Opera” which premiered in Berlin in 1928. The song Mack the Knife, or “Die Moritat von Mackie Messe” was part if that opera.

The character Mack the Knife is based on , the dashing highwayman Macheath, from John Gay’s   “The Beggar’s Opera ”

beggar

Although Macheath is a fictional character he is believed to be based on, or at least partially based on Jack Sheppard, an English thief and jail breaker, and also enjoyed the affections of a prostitute, but unlike the character in the song he despised violence.

The Macheath in Mack the Knife is compared with a shark, and it  tells tales of his  numerous  crimes like robberies, murders, rapes, and arson.

And the shark, it has teeth,
And it wears them in the face.
And Macheath, he has a knife,
But the knife can’t be seen.

The song was was translated in 1954 by Marc Blizstein. The nuances of Blitzstein’s  translations are different compared to the original.

Oh, the shark has pretty teeth, dear,
And he shows them pearly white
Just a jack-knife has Macheath, dear
And he keeps it out of sight.

jack knife

Leaving you with Bobby Darin’s version of the song.

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I am passionate about my site and I know you all like reading my blogs. I have been doing this at no cost and will continue to do so. All I ask is for a voluntary donation of $2 ,however if you are not in a position to do so I can fully understand, maybe next time then. Thanks To donate click on the credit/debit card icon of the card you will use. If you want to donate more then $2 just add a higher number in the box left from the paypal link. Many thanks

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