Music: Odyssey of Mack the Knife

In Hamburg, Germany, anyone can dial 4166 and hear hit records of the week. Most startling selection: Louis Armstrong playing and croaking a catchy 4/4 time ditty called Mack the Knife:

Oh the shark has pretty teeth dear

And he shows them a-pearly white,

Just a jackknife has Macheath dear

But he keeps it out of sight . . .

The appearance of this song as an American jazz hit marks the end of a remarkable odyssey; Mack the Knife, originally the prologue of Kurt Weill's famed Threepenny Opera, was first heard in Berlin 28 years ago. It also marks a remarkable revival, on...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now

Subscribe
Subscribe

Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on TIME.com

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!