You know you may have lived a good life when there is room for Muddy Waters (born 4/4/1913) and Kurt Weill (died 4/3/1950). I have been very fortunate, indeed.
Muddy, born McKinley Morganfield, has been a part of my musical experience for over 40 years, discovered in high school, along with Willie Dixon, while studying the record sleeves of, among others, the Rolling Stones. Muddy was the key that opened the door; with Muddy came Willie, and James Cotton, Buddy Guy, Otis Spann, Jimmie Rogers, Pinetop Perkins, Lafayette Leake, Little Walter and back, back to Lightnin' Hopkins and Robert Johnson, and Son House.
It's safe to say that the world would have been a bleaker, more hostile place for me, without these amazing musicians who could touch the soul with a single, aching, sustained note.
Kurt Weill came later, though Bobby Darin's "Mack the Knife" had captured the popular imagination early on. I'm sure that I was really first captivated with his music via Judy Collins' recording of "Pirate Jenny" on her seminal In My Life album. His collaborations with Bertolt Brecht are the stuff of legend and certainly what catapulted him into the public eye. The music, however, sustains those lyrics and has been hugely influential, even with someone as seemingly removed as the composer Tom Waits. There have been anthologies of popular interpretations of Weill's music over the years, which can give someone without a classical background an easy way in (it did me). I highly recommend both collections.
So, on this musical Friday, first here's Muddy, with "Crawlin' King Snake" followed by audio of the classic "Got My Mojo Workin':"
Here are three songs by Weill/Brecht sung by Lotte Lenya from a 1962 (or 1958 - I found conflicting dates) episode of the television series "Monitor" filmed by Ken Russell, followed by the scathing contemporary interpretation of "What Keeps Man Alive" by Tom Waits:
making a duet
with my flute...
cry of a deerIssa
translated by David Lanoue