Re: RARA-AVIS: Hard-boiled music

Mark Sullivan (
Tue, 28 Jul 1998 20:43:24 -0400 (EDT) As far as "Mack the Knife" goes, try a version from any of the original
cast albums of Three Penny Opera if you want the song's "execution" (pun
intended, of course) as hardboiled as its lyrics.

Funny story about "Mack the Knife": In 1959, New York's WCBS banned all
vocal versions of the song, claiming:

"The glamorization of lawlessness as expressed in the lyric is not to be
condoned. There is little doubt that records are of particular
importance to teen-agers. We feel that=A0in not airing the lyric we are
fulfilling our duty as broadcasters to the public.

"We, of course, recognize the brilliance and artistry of Weill.
However, this is a lyric taken out of context of The Three Penny Opera.
Performed separately it creates an impression never intended by the

At the time, Darin's "Mack the Knife" was at #24,on its rise to nine
weeks at number one.

Marianne Faithfull does a harrowing version of the song (along with
numerous other Weill songs, including "Pirate Jenny" from the same
opera) on "20th Century Blues."

No hardboiled music collection would be complete without Nick Cave,
particularly "Murder Ballads." This contains a particularly nasty
version of the classic "Stagger Lee," any version of which is
reminiscent of Jim Thompson or James Cain.

Along with Tom Waits, who has been mentioned, is Johnny Cash's "American
Recordings," with "Delia's Gone" and, of course, Bruce Springsteen's

These are all hardboiled in content; instrumental hardboiled would
require another long missive.


# To unsubscribe, say "unsubscribe rara-avis" to
# The web pages for the list are at