Pirate Jenny & Mack, the Knife – Morphin´ through When the ship comes in and False Prophet

Two songs swingin´ between New York and Berlin

Let´s start this track with an Outtake of Anne-Marie-Mai`s book

Bob Dylan : The poet

The meeting with a pirate

In his memoirs, Chronicles (2004), Dylan writes about his life in Greenwich Village in New York in the early 1960s, and the many powerful influences he took from art, theatre and music. At this point, he is completely unknown, he performs at a couple of music venues and has started his relationship with a girl of Italian descent, Suze Rotolo. She is interested in pictorial art, is herself a drawer and frequents the many small artists’ cafés. She is also involved in a performance of Brecht, and one day, when Dylan is to fetch her from the theatre, he hears a number of songs by Brecht and Kurt Weill. He has already heard the song “Mack the Knife”, which was a hit for Bobby Darin in 1959. But Dylan is struck by these songs which he has not heard before. They have an immediate influence on him, both psychically and mentally.

Here comes the German original version:

He is particularly surprised by Jenny’s song about the pirate ship, and he wishes to be able to write these kinds of songs himself. His reaction is first and foremost a physical one: he has a feeling of not having slept or eaten in thirty hours – he feels spellbound.

He explains that the sentences fall down from a height of twelve feet and strike him on the jaw. He sits there thunderstruck, gasping for breath, with a feeling he remembers as the audience holding its hands pressed against a collective solar plexus. …

In addition, the refrain reminds Dylan of his own childhood in Duluth, where as a young boy he used to listen to the fog horns of the big ships. The sound frightened him, and he imagined that something sinister could come up out of the lake and swallow him. The coarse, insistent performance of the song is also an actor; the important people that Jenny wants to send to the gallows, Dylan feels, are the audience itself. The feeling of sharing in the crime of suppressing the poor is powerful; it is the audience itself that Jenny serves as a cleaning woman, waitress or postal worker. …

1964-Nina Simone and Hattie Caroll comes to my mind

Dylan is surprised that the song is completely devoid of the love of humanity he is

familiar with from folk music. It is a merciless song, and he feels that it is this kind of song that he wishes to write.

As Dylan recounts, the desire to write like Brecht leads him to dismantle the song, to find out why it is so effective. He concludes that the form is crucial: it expresses a lack of respect for what is expected.

So far the thoughts from Anne-Marie.

Sounds familiar ?, so let´s listen to WHEN THE SHIP COMES IN

Heinrich Detering in his book „Stimmen aus der Unterwelt: Bob Dylans Mysterienspiele“ points out this connection between „When the ship comes in“ and „Pirate Jenny“ ( Three Penny Opera) in a scenery of oppression and liberation..

And then there is „Mack, the Knife- Mackie Messer“, still in the game of mankind as a

distant relative from the ghost of the False Prophet image

These songs are morphing from Berlin to New York – then and now.

Songs that swings from the late twenties of the last century into our time.

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