by Rebecca Cantrell
Mack the Knife, performed by Lotte Lenya and Louis Armstrong, lyrics by Bertolt Brecht and music by Kurt Weill. I know it wasn’t recorded until 1956, but the original Mack the Knife was first performed on stage in 1928 in Berlin, as part of The Beggar’s Opera. Since Hannah had money that year, she went. And its message of violence under the smooth surface sums up what she and Germany are dealing with.
Oh, the shark has pretty teeth dear…and he shows them, pearly white
Just a jackknife has Macheath dear…and he keeps it out of sight
When the shark bites with his teeth dear, scarlet billows start to spread
Fancy gloves though wears Macheath, so there’s never a trace of red.
Here’s a YouTube video of Louis Armstrong singing it:
Song of a German Mother, performed by Lotte Lenya, lyrics by Bertolt Brecht and music by Kurt Weill sums up the fate of many of the mothers that Hannah stands in line with at Lichterfelde. They didn’t know what was going to happen to their sons, and now they do.
My son I gave you the jackboots, and the brown shirt came from me
But had I known what I now know, I would have hanged myself from a tree
Here’s Dagmar Krause on YouTube. I couldn’t find Lotte Lenya.
It’s Only a Paper Moon by Paul Whiteman and his Orchestra. This one I had to put in because Hannah sings it at the casino when she’s in an…umm…altered state. It originally came out in 1933, so she would certainly have heard it on the radio.
Say it’s only a paper moon, sailing over a cardboard sea
But it wouldn’t be make believe, if you believed in me