Monday, January 30, 2012

Songs for Hannah Vogel

by Rebecca Cantrell

Write a soundtrack for Hannah Vogel's life? Hannah's life is way too complicated for that, but here's a theme song for each of her books.

A Trace of Smoke:
Mack the Knife, performed by Lotte Lenya and Louis Armstrong, lyrics by Bertolt Brecht and music by Kurt Weill. I know it wasn’t recorded until 1956, but the original Mack the Knife was first performed on stage in 1928 in Berlin, as part of The Beggar’s Opera. Since Hannah had money that year, she went. And its message of violence under the smooth surface sums up what she and Germany are dealing with.

Oh, the shark has pretty teeth dear…and he shows them, pearly white
Just a jackknife has Macheath dear…and he keeps it out of sight
When the shark bites with his teeth dear, scarlet billows start to spread
Fancy gloves though wears Macheath, so there’s never a trace of red.

Here’s a YouTube video of Louis Armstrong singing it:

A Night of Long Knives:
Song of a German Mother, performed by Lotte Lenya, lyrics by Bertolt Brecht and music by Kurt Weill sums up the fate of many of the mothers that Hannah stands in line with at Lichterfelde. They didn’t know what was going to happen to their sons, and now they do.

My son I gave you the jackboots, and the brown shirt came from me
But had I known what I now know, I would have hanged myself from a tree

Here’s Dagmar Krause on YouTube. I couldn’t find Lotte Lenya.

A Game of Lies:
It’s Only a Paper Moon by Paul Whiteman and his Orchestra. This one I had to put in because Hannah sings it at the casino when she’s in an…umm…altered state. It originally came out in 1933, so she would certainly have heard it on the radio.

Say it’s only a paper moon, sailing over a cardboard sea
But it wouldn’t be make believe, if you believed in me

Any other suggestions for songs for Hannah?


Sue Ann Jaffarian said...

Nice pairings - like fine wine with good food.

Rebecca Cantrell said...

Thanks, Sue Ann! Can't wait to see yours!

rchrd said...

The best contemporary interpretation of Weill's songs is by Ute Lemper:

Her performances are incredible.

Rebecca Cantrell said...

Oooo. Thanks, Richard!

Joshua Corin said...

Song suggestion:

"The Black Rider" by Tom Waits.

Sure, it's anachronistic...but tell me he's not channeling Weil in that song (and album).

Meredith Cole said...

Love the songs you chose, Becky. I hope people go and read or reread your books with your soundtrack in their heads.

Michael Wiley said...

I love the sound track, Becky. Nice to have musical accompaniment.

Rebecca Cantrell said...

Josh: You are now officially my go to guy for dark music. But you already knew that. Dang. And thanks.

Rebecca Cantrell said...

Thanks, Meredith! Can't wait to see your picks for your books!

Next time, I'm just having Josh do this for me.

Rebecca Cantrell said...

Thanks, Michael! And hooray for You Tube!

lil Gluckstern said...

Wonderful pairings, and very poignant. A hard time requiring a strong woman.

Rebecca Cantrell said...

Thank you, Lil!

Luckily, Hannah is VERY strong. :)