Mack The Knife -> Threepenny Opera -> Beggar's Opera

One of my favorite classic lounge songs of all time has got to be "Mack The Knife" by Bobby Darin, (though Robbie Williams does a great version on Swing When You're Winning). Many, many have recorded versions of this song, but even Frank Sinatra described Bobby's version as "definitive" -- and that's saying a lot coming from Ol' Blue Eyes himself!

However, I must admit to a large deal of ignorance around the history of the song - where it came from, who MacHeath is, etc. So this morning I finally decide that I'm going to do some research on it, after hearing it on my new iPod here at work. Come to find out it's actually got some interesting roots to it.

MacHeath refers to the lead character in Kurt Weill and Bertolt Brecht's The Threepenny Opera, written and composed in 1928. "Mack The Knife" is a loose rendition of the opening song of this play, "Die Moritat von Mackie Messer" - as adapted by none other than Louis Armstrong himself.

But it doesn't stop there...The Threepenny Opera is itself based upon a 1728 operatic satire, The Beggar's Opera, by John Gay. It is believed that this opera played a large part in opening the way for those masters of operatic satire, Gilbert & Sullivan.

So, next time you watch The Simpsons and see Sideshow Bob singing the entire score from The H.M.S. Pinafore, you can make the link to 50s lounge music.