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Weill Bodies


Kurt Weill and Lotte Leya

Kurt Weill and Lotte Lenya

I have translated the first two songs for the Kurt Weill/Lotte Lenya project:

Barbara Song

From Die Dreigroschenoper


Once I believed, an innocent girl,
And I really was as innocent as you.
I really believed when one day some man
Came along then I’d know what to do.

Though he’s got cash in the bank,And he treats me kindly
And his shirt collars are always white as snow.
And though he knows just how to treat a lady.But I shall still tell him “NO”.

That is when your head must be screwed on tight
You must sleep alone and take it slow
The moon can shine as brightly as a dollar coin
The boat stays tied to its mooring
And you must not let it go.

This is not the time to play it fast and loose
You should just stay calm and take it slow
For anything can happen and it surely will
So the word you must say is “No”.

The first one who came was a man from Kent,
He was just like a man should be.
The second had a fleet of three ships on the seas,
And the third was crazy over me.
Though they’d cash in the bank,
And treated me kindly
And their shirt collars were always white as snow.
And they all knew how to treat a lady,
But to each one I said “NO”.

That is when your head must be screwed on tight
You must sleep alone and take it slow
The moon can shine as brightly as a dollar coin
The boat stays tied to its mooring
And you must not let it go

This is not the time to play it fast and loose
You should just stay calm and take it slow
For anything can happen and it surely will
So the word you must say is “No”.

But then one day and the skies were blue
Came a man who was different from the rest.
Not as much as a by-your-leave did he ask
And he lay on my bed in his vest.
He’d got no cash in the bank,
And he didn’t treat me kindly
And his shirt collars were never white as snow
And he didn’t care how to treat a lady.
But to him, I couldn’t say “No”.

That is when my head wasn’t screwed on tight
I couldn’t sleep alone, oh dear me no
The moon shine brightly as a silver dollar coin
The boat had loosed its mooring
And I had to let it go

This became the time to play it fast and loose
I couldn’t just stay calm and take it slow
For anything can happen now, and it surely will
Just because I can’t say “No”.

Surabaya Johnny

From Happy End


My God, I was young, only sixteen
When you came and you stole my heart
You said we’d be always together
You said we would never part.
I asked how you’d ever support me
You said you would never sail away
You said you’d a job on the railway
And you’d always come home for your tea.

A lot of chat, Johnny,
A lot of lies, Johnny,
I was besotted Johnny, and don’t you mock
I loved you then, Johnny, but now I hate you
Take that grin off your face, Johnny,
And that bloody pipe from your mouth, you dog!

Surabaya-Johnny, how did we get this way?
Surabaya-Johnny, my God, I love you so
Surabaya-Johnny, I just want to be happy
You have no heart, Johnny, and I love you so

At first it was always Sunday
And we walked hand-in-hand all along
Two weeks passed and everything changed then
And everything I did was wrong
We were stuck in some dreary apartment
Where the stink came in from the sea
My face getting old in the mirror
Not the woman I wanted to be.

It wasn’t love, Johnny
My cash ran out, Johnny
And all your words, Johnny
Were like a fog
What you demanded, Johnny,
Was more and more, Johnny
Take that bloody pipe from your mouth, you dog!

Surabaya-Johnny, how did we get this way?
Surabaya-Johnny, my God, I love you so
Surabaya-Johnny, I just want to be happy
You have no heart, Johnny, and I love you so

Everywhere that we went people knew you
All along the seashore and the docks
You pawned all my jewels at uncle’s
And all my silk satins and frocks
And I know as I lie in this flophouse
I know without a word of goodbye
One day soon to that ship in the harbour
With you in it will soon sail away.

You have no heart, Johnny
You can’t be trusted, Johnny
When you leave me here, Johnny,
My hopes you’ll mock.
Now and for ever, Johnny
Like on the first day, Johnny.
Take that bloody pipe from your mouth, you dog!

Surabaya-Johnny, how did we get this way?
Surabaya-Johnny, my God, I love you so
Surabaya-Johnny, I just want to be happy
You have no heart, Johnny, and I love you so.

I’ve started work on this project and I need to find a woman and a man to perform the pieces and a musician – probably a keyboard player – to accompany them.

I see this as a series of serious, paid performances. I am looking for a launch in London’s West End, followed by a commercial tour.

The man will narrate the story of Kurt Weill and Lotte Lenya, his wife. The woman doesn’t need to be a singer – in  fact, it might be better if she doesn’t have a wonderful voice. But she needs to be able to get into the songs and act them out.

Interested? Then please fill in the following form to register your interest.

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