Bobby Darin - Mack the Knife - 1959

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Bobby Darin - Mack the Knife - 1959


Bobby Darin's "Mack the Knife" from 1959 is a classic hit that has captivated audiences for decades. This song, originally from the Threepenny Opera written by Kurt Weill and Bertolt Brecht, was translated into English by Marc Blitzstein. Darin's version, which blends elements of jazz and swing, remains one of the most famous interpretations.

The Song's History and Impact

"Mack the Knife" is known for its catchy tune and darkly humorous lyrics about a murderer named Macheath. This juxtaposition of upbeat music and grim subject matter is a key aspect of the song's lasting appeal. Bobby Darin's rendition, released in 1959, brought a new level of popularity to the song, showcasing his unique vocal style and charisma.

Adaptation and Changes

The song has undergone various adaptations since its inception in the "Threepenny Opera" in 1928. Darin's version, in particular, is noted for its big-band arrangement and smoother, more upbeat tempo compared to the original. The English translation by Marc Blitzstein also played a crucial role in popularizing the song in the English-speaking world.

Bobby Darin: A Brief Biography

Bobby Darin, born Walden Robert Cassotto in 1936, was an American singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and actor. He rose to fame in the late 1950s and became known for his versatile range of musical styles, including pop, jazz, swing, and folk. "Mack the Knife" was a significant milestone in his career, earning him a Grammy Award and enduring recognition.

Interactive Tasks

Quiz: Questions on the song

What musical originally featured the song "Mack the Knife"? (The Threepenny Opera) (!Cabaret) (!West Side Story) (!Chicago)

In what year was Bobby Darin's version of "Mack the Knife" released? (1959) (!1962) (!1956) (!1960)

What is the central character's name in "Mack the Knife"? (Macheath) (!Mackie) (!Macbeth) (!Maxwell)

What award did Bobby Darin win for "Mack the Knife"? (Grammy Award) (!Oscar) (!Tony Award) (!Billboard Award)

Who translated "Mack the Knife" into English? (Marc Blitzstein) (!Stephen Sondheim) (!Tim Rice) (!Leonard Bernstein)

Quiz: Questions on the Performer

What was Bobby Darin's real name? (Walden Robert Cassotto) (!Robert Darren Walden) (!Walter Darren Cassoto) (!Robert Walden Cassotto)

Apart from singing, what other professions was Bobby Darin known for? (Songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and actor) (!Painter, actor, and dancer) (!Director, playwright, and composer) (!Journalist, teacher, and singer)

In which musical style did Bobby Darin NOT predominantly perform? (Heavy Metal) (!Jazz) (!Swing) (!Pop)

What was one of Bobby Darin's other famous songs besides "Mack the Knife"? ("Beyond the Sea") (!"Purple Haze") (!"Hotel California") (!"Like a Rolling Stone")

How old was Bobby Darin when he passed away? (37) (!42) (!50) (!29)

Quiz: Questions on the lyrics

What does the song "Mack the Knife" describe? (Acts of a murderer) (!A romantic love story) (!A journey at sea) (!A tale of adventure)

Which city is mentioned in the lyrics of "Mack the Knife"? (Soho) (!Paris) (!New York) (!Berlin)

What object is prominently mentioned in the song's lyrics? (A knife) (!A gun) (!A rose) (!A diamond)

How is the mood of the lyrics contrasted in "Mack the Knife"? (Upbeat music with dark lyrics) (!Sad music with happy lyrics) (!Loud music with silent lyrics) (!Soft music with aggressive lyrics)

What type of character is Macheath in the song? (A murderer) (!A hero) (!A sailor) (!A king)


Bobby Darin Mack the Knife
1959 Release Year of Darin's Version
Macheath Central Character
Marc Blitzstein English Translator
Grammy Award Award Won for the Song

Open Tasks


  1. Research Task: Explore different versions of "Mack the Knife" and compare them to Bobby Darin's version.
  2. Art Task: Create a poster for a fictional concert where Bobby Darin performs "Mack the Knife."
  3. Listening Task: Listen to "Mack the Knife" and identify the instruments used in the song.


  1. Writing Task: Write a short essay on the impact of "Mack the Knife" on popular culture.
  2. Analysis Task: Analyze the lyrical content of "Mack the Knife" and discuss its thematic significance.
  3. Biography Task: Create a timeline of Bobby Darin's career highlights.


  1. Music Composition Task: Compose a piece inspired by "Mack the Knife" using different musical elements.
  2. Theater Task: Write and stage a short play inspired by the story of "Mack the Knife."
  3. Critical Thinking Task: Debate the ethical implications of glamorizing a criminal character in music.

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Oral Exam

  1. Discussion Topic: Discuss how "Mack the Knife" reflects the social and cultural context of the late 1950s.
  2. Analysis Topic: Analyze the transformation of "Mack the Knife" from an opera song to a pop culture icon.
  3. Comparison Topic: Compare and contrast Bobby Darin's musical style with other artists of his era.
  4. Opinion Topic: Share your perspective on the importance of translation in making songs globally popular.
  5. Creativity Topic: Propose a modern reinterpretation of "Mack the Knife" for today's audience.

OERs on the Topic


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