Mack the Knife

I could watch this for hours and have. What a time. This was performed 10 years before I was born. I can relate to this time through my family when listening to old records and viewing family photos.


It was the year of the rat—a golden age for Hollywood. President Kohn F. Kennedy, newly elected, was the King of Camelot. The Beetles hadn’t arrived and no one had yet been to space. The Cold War continued to escalate as a Soviet Union missile shot down the US U2 spy plane.

This was my parent’s era. Dating was done with groups of friends. Birth control hadn’t been invented yet and the new dance craze was the twist. While young American men are sent to Vietnam to fight communism against North Vietnam, Cuba becomes our communist enemy closer to home.

OPEC is formed by middle eastern countries plus Venezuela.  The average cost for a new car is $2600 and it cost .25 cents per gallon to fill it with gas. The Summer Olympics were played in Rome, Italy, and were fully televised for the first time. Imagine the backdrops of the ancient forums!

Khrushchev orders the construction of the Berlin Wall, To Kill A Mockingbird is published, and people are singing along to Only The Lonely by Roy Orbison. Ben Hur reigns in moviegoers as well as Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho.

The IRA is formed and starts its fight against the British. Cassius Clay (aka Muhammad Ali) wins his first professional fight after winning the Gold Medal in Rome for the Olympic games. Aluminum cans are used for the first time and the pacemaker is invented. Port wine had an exceptionally good year because of a refreshing rain after a hot dry summer that down pored just before picking the grapes.

In my parent’s world they are new parents with my sister. They work shifts so they can both care for her and make a living. My father is a beat cop in Minneapolis and my mother is a teletype working for Northwestern airlines.

The times are about to change.

[from Wikipedia]
The song has become a popular standard recorded by many artists after it was recorded by Louis Armstrong in 1955. The most popular version of the song was by Bobby Darin in 1959, whose recording became a number one hit in the US and UK and earned him two Grammys. Ella Fitzgerald also received a Grammy for her performance of the song in 1961.

The song sings about a knife-wielding criminal of the London underworld from the musical named Macheath, the “Mack the Knife” of the title.


The Ballad of Mac the Knife, sung by Pearl Bailey and Dinah Shore

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