Bilbao Song

“Bilbao Song,” written by Kurt Weil and Bertolt Brecht, translated by W. H. Auden and Chester Kallman, recorded by Marianne Faithfull, with the ORF Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra,1998. Originally recorded (in German) by Lotte Lenya in 1929.

Brecht’s lyrics describe the Spanish city’s gentrification:

“Bill’s beer hall in Bilbao
now they’ve cleaned it up and made it middle class
with potted palms and ice cream
very bourgeois, very bourgeois
just another place to put your ass!”

The lyrics themselves get gentrified in the bourgeois translation by Johnny Mercer, which omits Bill’s bar entirely, substituting “Tony’s Beach Saloon” to make the cheap rhyme with “moon.” It was recorded in Archie Bleyer‘s potted-palm arrangement by plain-vanilla Andy Williams in 1961:

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