Lyrics & Knowledge Personal Pages Record Shop Auction Links Radio & Media Kids Membership Help
The Mudcat Cafeetta

Post to this Thread - Sort Descending - Printer Friendly - Home


Lyr Add: Bilbao Song (Weill/Brecht/Mercer)

DigiTrad:
WIFE OF A SOLDIER


Related threads:
(origins) Pirate Jenny & Mack the Knife (76)
Music for Pirate Jenny (10)
Lyr Req: Wife of a Soldier (Bertolt Brecht) (25)
(origins) Origins: 'from the ancient city of Prague' (9)
Anyone like Kurt Weill, Bert Brecht? (41)
Lyr Add: Youkali (Roger Fernay-Kurt Weill) (3)
Chords Req: Brecht/Weil - Ballad of Millwheel (7)
Lyr Req: Call from the Grave (Brecht/Weill) (12)
Lyr/Chords Req: Alabama Song (Brecht/Weill) (28)
Lyr Req: Und was bekam des Soldaten Weib? (Brecht (27)
Folklore: Beggars opera vs. Threepenny opera (24)
Chord Req: Mack the Knife chord formations (19)
Lyr Req: Jack the Knife? / Mack the Knife (4)


Joe Offer 14 Oct 08 - 10:09 PM
M.Ted 14 Oct 08 - 11:34 PM
Q 16 Oct 08 - 12:59 AM
Joe Offer 16 Oct 08 - 03:55 AM
Q 16 Oct 08 - 06:35 AM
Snuffy 16 Oct 08 - 09:05 AM
Joe Offer 16 Oct 08 - 01:24 PM
GUEST 17 Oct 08 - 09:07 AM
Nigel Parsons 17 Oct 08 - 11:33 AM
Q 17 Oct 08 - 12:51 PM
beeliner 21 Jan 12 - 09:24 AM
Share Thread
more
Lyrics & Knowledge Search [Advanced]
DT  Forum
Sort (Forum) by:relevance date
DT Lyrics:





Subject: ADD: Bilbao Song Brecht/Weill/Mercer)
From: Joe Offer
Date: 14 Oct 08 - 10:09 PM

We've had recent discussions on Brecht and Weill songs, but no mention of "The Bilbao Song." I was surprised to find that the English lyrics were by Johnny Mercer.

THE BILBAO SONG
(Brecht/Weill, English lyrics by Johnny Mercer)

That old Bilbao moon, I won't forget it soon
That old Bilbao moon, just like a big balloon
That old Bilbao moon would rise above the dune
While Tony's Beach Saloon rocked with an old-time tune
We'd sing a song the whole night long and I can still recall
Those were the greatest (those were the greatest)
Those were the greatest (those were the greatest)
Those were the greatest nights of them all

No paint was on the door (no paint was on the door)
The grass grew through the floor (the grass grew through the floor)
Of Tony's Two By Four (of Tony's Two By Four)
On the Bilbao shore (on the Bilbao shore)
But there were friends galore (howdy do, howdy do)
And there was beer to pour (chug-a-lug, chug-a-lug)
And moonlight on the shore (and the moon shines above)
That old Bilbao shore (on the shore, not the floor)
We'd sing all night with all our might and I can still recall
Those were the greatest (those were the greatest)
Those were the greatest (those were the greatest)
Those were the greatest nights of them all

Those old Bilbao guys, They loved to harmonize,
Who stopped to realize How fast the summer flies!
The moon was on the rise, We'd catch the ladies' eyes
And whisper Spanish lies, They never did get wise.
We'd sing a song the whole night long and I can still recall
Those were the greatest
Those were the greatest
Those were the greatest nights of them all


That old Bilbao moon, I won't forget it soon
That old Bilbao moon, just like a big balloon
That old Bilbao moon would rise above the dune
While Tony's Beach Saloon rocked with an old-time tune
We'd sing all night with all our might and I can still recall
Those were the greatest (those were the greatest)
Those were the greatest (those were the greatest)
Those were the greatest nights of them all


Transcribed by Ronald E. Hontz

Artist: Andy Williams (peak Billboard position # 37 in 1961)
Original Lyrics and Music by Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill in the 1929 German musical "Happy End." Johnny Mercer added new lyrics.
(Title is often mistaken to be "Bill Bower Moon"). Bilbao is a city on the Bay of Biscay on the north coast of Spain.

I've always found transcriptions from Ron Hontz to be very good. This one matches the Andy Williams YouTube Recording exactly. I checked the lyrics in Johnny Mercer: The Life, Times, and Song Lyrics of our Huckleberry Friend (Bob Bach & Ginger Mercer). The Mercer lyrics have an extra verse (in italics) and do not include the repeats shown in parentheses above.
I found this transcription at Lyrics World.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Anyone like Kurt Weill, Bert Brecht?
From: M.Ted
Date: 14 Oct 08 - 11:34 PM

That's a great song, Joe--it was very popular for Andy Williams, and was a favorite with cocktail lounge bands back when there were such things.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: ADD: Bilbao Song
From: Q
Date: 16 Oct 08 - 12:59 AM

BILBAO SONG (Happy End)
Sung by Marianne Faithful

Bill's beer hall in Bilbao, Bilbao, Bilbao,
Was the most fantastic place I've ever known;
For just a dollar you'd get all you wanted,
All you wanted, all you wanted,
Of whatever kind of joy you called your own,
But if you had been around to see the fun,
Well, I don't know, you might not like what you'd've seen;
The stools at the bar were damp with rye,
On the dance floor the grass grew high,
Through the roof the moon was shining green
And the music really gave you some return on what you paid.

That old Bilbao
Down where we used to go
Da da da da da...
I can't remember the words,
Da da da da da da
It was so long ago.
I don't know if it would have brought you joy or grief, but
It was fantastic
It was fantastic
It was fantastic
Beyond belief.

Bill's beer hall in Bilbao, Bilbao, Bilbao,
Came a day the end of May in 1908,
Four guys from Bristol came with sacks of coal dust,
Sacks of coal dust, sacks of coal dust,
And the time they showed us was really great,
But if you had ben around to see the fun,
Well, I don't know, you might not like what you'd've seen,
The brandy bottles smashing through the air
And the chairs flying everywhere,
Through the roof the moon's still shining green,
*And those fog eyes all going crazy with their pistols blazing high;
Think you can stop 'em? Well, go ahead and try!

That ol' Bilbao
Down where we used to go,
Casting its golden glow;
That ol' Bilbao,
Why does it haunt me so?
I don't know if it would have brought you joy or grief, but
It was fantastic
It was fantastic
It was fantastic
Beyond belief.

Bill's beer hall in Bilbao, Bilbao, Bilbao,
Now they've cleaned it up and made it middle class
With potted palms and aspree;
Very bourgeois, very bourgeois,
Just another place to put your ass,
But if you could come round to see the fun,
Well, I don't know, you might not find it such a strain,
Ha, they've cleaned up all the booze and broken glass,
On parquet floors you can't grow grass,
They've shut the green moon out because of rain
And the music makes you cringe now when you think of what you paid.
Hey Joe, play that ol' song they always played-
That ol' Bilbao
Casting its golden glow,
That ol' Bilbao moon,
Love never laid me low.
That ol' Bilbao,
Why does it **hurt me so?
I don't know if it would have brought you joy or grief, but
It was fantastic
It was fantastic
It was fantastic
Beyond belief.
So long ago.

*Not certain of that line. **'Haunt' and 'hurt' used by different singers. Several online lyrics, all with errors.

The Brecht-Weill song, as sung in "September Songs, Music of Kurt Weill," cover by Marianne Faithfull, and originally sung on Broadway, in "Happy End," 1929. Lotte Lenya recorded it in 1930.

The musical was ruined by one of the actors, Helene Weigel, breaking the action and reading Marxist claptrap to the audience. Not until 1960, when Lenya and conductor Wilhelm Bruckner-Ruggeberg recorded the score, complete on Columbia, did Weill's music really get a hearing.
Happy End

(I will run through my "September Songs" and get the name of the singer that Faithfull covered, but my mind is ready for bed tonight).

The real "Bilbao Song" is certainly not that sophomorish revision by Mercer- I always thought better of him. Or did Andy Williams do the damage?


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Anyone like Kurt Weill, Bert Brecht?
From: Joe Offer
Date: 16 Oct 08 - 03:55 AM

Hi, Q-
I found my Mercer lyrics book and altered my post to reflect the actual Mercer lyrics. It's almost the same as the Andy Williams recording, but with an extra verse and without the silly repeats.
-Joe-


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Anyone like Kurt Weill, Bert Brecht?
From: Q
Date: 16 Oct 08 - 06:35 AM

Found the 1929 lyrics for the Kurt Weill, Bertolt Brecht, Dorothy Lane and Michael Feingold production of "Happy End"
Marianne Faithful changed a few lines, and I left out a couple, but nothing important.
Running through the 1929 lyrics, here are the changes:

And the music really gave you some return on what you paid.
Hey, Joe, play that old song they always played.
That old Bilbao moon
Down where we used to go.
-Who remembers the words?
That old Bilbao moon
-It's just too long ago!
I don't know if it would have brought you joy or grief
etc.

Bill's beer hall in Bilbao, Bilbao, Bilbao,
Came a day at the end of May in ninety-eight
Four guys from Frisco came with bags of
gold dust, gold dust, bags of gold dust,
And the time they showed us all was really great!
But if you had been around etc.

Brandy bottles smashing everywhere

'N those four guys from Frisco all went crazy with their pistols blazing high
Think you can stop them? Well go ahead and try.

That old Bilbao moon
Down where we used to go
Can't remember the words
That old Bilbao moon
-Something with love in it
I don't know etc.

With potted palms and ice cream etc.

Well if you should come around to see the fun
Well, I don't know, you might not find it such a pain (Huh!)

They've mopped up all the booze and broken glass
etc.

(Stage direction- Bill shouts the lyrics between phrases, and OTHERS pick them up and sing them. It's obvious that he's the only one who knows the song)
Everybody-
That old Bilbao moon
Down where we used to go
etc.

It was fantastic
Beyond belief.
(Bill, spoken) And it's all over now.
-------------
I will put the stage version together later, now that I can compare the two. Interesting comparison.
Faithful did a good job of taking a song sung on stage by more than one person (Governor, Baby Face, Bill Cracker and The Gang).

Faithfull changed the 'guys from Frisco with bags of gold dust' to 'guys from Bristol with bags of coal dust'; I guess for her mainly UK audience, but it doesn't really make sense.

Script found on google-
Happy End: A Melodrama with Songs- Google Books Result. I am no good at cut and paste, so won't try a direct link.
The book was published by French's Musical Library.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Anyone like Kurt Weill, Bert Brecht?
From: Snuffy
Date: 16 Oct 08 - 09:05 AM

Helene Weigel was not just "one of the actors": she was Brecht's second wife, and ran the Berliner Ensemble after his death.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: Lyr Add: Bilbao Song (Weill/Brecht)
From: Joe Offer
Date: 16 Oct 08 - 01:24 PM

Well, I think this song deserves its own thread, so I've moved the messages on Bilbao-Song over here.
-Joe-
I found German, English, and Spanish lyrics at http://www.euskonews.com/0228zbk/gaia22801es.html. The lyrics are part of a Spanish-language article on Brecht and Bilbao, which I only moderately understand.
The well-know versions of "Bilbao Song" (Mercer) and "Mack the Knife" (Blitzstein?) don't really seem to preserve the Berlin-cabaret character of the original song. You really haven't heard "Bilbao-song" until you've heard it performed by Lotte Lenya or Ute Lemper. I may have to break down and buy the cut by Marianne Faithfull, and see if she can change my mind. The translation she uses is quite close to the German.

Here are the German lyrics:

Bilbao-Lied
(Brecht/Weill)

Bills Ballhaus in Bilbao
War das Schönste auf dem ganzen Kontinent.
Dort gab's für einen Dollar Krach und Wonne
Und was die Welt ihr eigen nennt.
Aber wenn Sie da hereingekommen wären
Ich weiß ja nicht, ob Ihnen so was grad gefällt.
Ach!
Brandylachen waren, wo man saß
Auf dem Tanzboden wuchs das Gras
Und der rote Mond schien durch das Dach.
'ne Musik gab's da, man konnte sich beschweren
Für sein Geld!
Joe, mach die Musik von damals nach.
Alter Bilbaomond
Wo noch die Liebe lohnt –
's ist doll mit dem Text
's ist schon so lange her –
Ich weiß ja nicht, ob Ihnen so was grad gefällt, doch
Es war das Schönste
Es war das Schönste
Auf der Welt.
2
Bills Ballhaus in Bilbao
An 'nem Tag gen Ende Mai im Jahre acht
Da kamen vier aus Frisco mit 'nem Geldsack
Die haben damals mit uns was gemacht.
Aber wenn Sie da dabeigewesen wären
Ich weiß nicht, ob Ihnen so was grad gefällt.
Ach!
Brandylachen waren, wo man saß
Auf dem Tanzboden wuchs das Gras
Und der rote Mond schien durch das Dach
Und vier Herren konnten Sie mit ihren Brownings schießen hören.
Sind Sie 'n Held?
Na, dann machen Sie's mal nach ...
Alter Bilbaomond
Wo noch die Liebe lohnt –
Ich kann den Text nicht mehr
's ist schon zu lange her –
Ich weiß ja nicht, ob Ihnen so was grad gefällt, doch
Es war das Schönste
Es war das Schönste
Auf der Welt.
3
Bills Ballhaus in Bilbao
Heute ist es renoviert - so auf dezent
Mit Palme und mit Eiscreme ganz gewöhnlich
Wie 'n anderes Etablissement.
Aber wenn Sie da jetzt hereingesegelt kämen
's ist ja möglich, daß es Ihnen so gefällt.
Spaß!
Auf dem Tanzboden wächst kein Gras
Und der Brandy ist auch nicht mehr das.
Und der rote Mond ist abbestellt.
'ne Musik machen sie, da kann man sich nur schämen
Für sein Geld!
Joe, mach die Musik von damals nach.
Alter Bilbaomond
Das hab ich oft betont
Ich hab sie nie geschont –
Na, das ist ja der Text –
Alter Bilbaomond
's ist zu lange her...
Ich weiß ja nicht, ob Ihnen so was grad gefällt, doch
Es war das Schönste
Es war das Schönste
Auf der Welt.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Bilbao Song (Weill/Brecht/Mercer)
From: GUEST
Date: 17 Oct 08 - 09:07 AM

At the wedding of Mack the Knife to Polly Peachum in THE THREEPENNY OPERA, there's a moment when Polly offers to sing a song. Originally, this was where she sang, "Pirate Jenny," but that song was later to given to Jenny.

In the summer of 1971, I saw a production of 3PO at Arena Stage in Washington, DC, where Polly did get to sing a song in this slot. Imagine my surprise when she launched into, "The Bide-a-Wee in Soho, in Soho, in Soho," to the tune of the "Bilbao Song."

I had never seen this before and have never seen it again, although I understand it was done in the famous 1954 Off Broadway production.

http://www.threepennyopera.org/histOffBway.php


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Bilbao Song (Weill/Brecht/Mercer)
From: Nigel Parsons
Date: 17 Oct 08 - 11:33 AM

And I was thinking the thread title referred to:


In the middle of the earth in the land of the Shire
lives a brave little hobbit whom we all admire.
With his long wooden pipe,
fuzzy, woolly toes,
he lives in a hobbit-hole and everybody knows him

Bilbo! Bilbo! Bilbo Baggins
He's only three feet tall
Bilbo! Bilbo! Bilbo Baggins
The bravest little hobbit of them all

Now hobbits are a peace-lovin' folks you know
They don't like to hurry and they take things slow
They don't like to travel away from home
They just want to eat and be left alone
But one day Bilbo was asked to go
on a big adventure to the caves below,
to help some dwarves get back their gold
that was stolen by a dragon in the days of old.

Bilbo! Bilbo! Bilbo Baggins
He's only three feet tall
Bilbo! Bilbo! Bilbo Baggins
The bravest little hobbit of them all

Well he fought with the goblins!
He battled a troll!!
He riddled with Gollum!!!
A magic ring he stole!!!!
He was chased by wolves!!!!!
Lost in the forest!!!!!!
Escaped in a barrel from the elf-king's halls!!!!!!!

Bilbo! Bilbo! Bilbo Baggins
The bravest little hobbit of them all

Now he's back in his hole in the land of the Shire,
that brave little hobbit whom we all admire,
just a-sittin' on a treasure of silver and gold
a-puffin' on his pipe in his hobbit-hole.

Bilbo! Bilbo! Bilbo Baggins
He's only three feet tall
Bilbo! Bilbo! Bilbo Baggins
The bravest little hobbit of them all


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Bilbao Song (Weill/Brecht/Mercer)
From: Q
Date: 17 Oct 08 - 12:51 PM

Guest, the link you gave to the review of the off-Broadway production explains something that puzzled me.
Blitzstein, in reviews, is credited with a good translation of the musical play, but some of the versions I have heard or seen, and credited to him, are far from the Brecht-Weill lyrics.

The article explains that the MGM (Decca) producers of the cast recording required that some lyrics be changed because they were too explicit, or needed to be shortened to meet timing constraints.
Thus Mac the Knife was eviscerated.
Even 'get off your ass' was changed to 'get on your feet.'

Aparently there are no accurate recordings of the Brecht-Weill original; only some of the songs as sung by Lenya, Lemper and a few others are available in their original form.
Librettos are available, but not in recorded form.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Bilbao Song (Weill/Brecht/Mercer)
From: beeliner
Date: 21 Jan 12 - 09:24 AM

Kind of an old thread, but here are Will Holt's lyrics, from his "Exciting Artistry" album, Electra LP 181:

Bill's Dance Hall in Bilbao, Bilbao, Bilbao
Was the greatest dancehall in the world I'm sure.
There you could for just a dollar whoop and holler, whoop and holler, whoop and holler,
And do a lot of things I wouldn't call so pure.
All the same, I'm not so sure that if you'd gone there you'd have liked it - 'twas a special kind of place.
Brandy laughter hit you at the door.
Blades of grass grew right up through the floor.
The moon shone green through roof of glass,
And the music that they played there had such CLASS!

(Chorus)Ah that Bilbao moon, when love was worth your while,
Ah that Bilbao moon, when people lived in style,
Ah that Bilbao moon, where did the time all go?
Ah that Bilbao moon, I guess we'll never know.
I'm not so sure you would have like it, ah but then,
It was the greatest, it was the greatest,
It was the greatest place on earth.

Bill's Dance Hall in Bilbao, Bilbao, Bilbao,
Has re-opened under different management.
Lots of palm trees, lots of ice cream, very flashy, very flashy,
But you know, it's not the same establishment.
Now I'll bet if you walked in you'd feel at home,
That is, if potted palms are just your style.
No grass is growing on that modern dancefloor,
The moon shining throught the roof is just a moon,
And the music that they play there is the kind you'd never ask for.
Ah, Joe, play me that old time tune!

(Chorus repeats).

Holt's electrifying version of "Sailor's Tango", also from Happy End, is on the same album.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate
  Share Thread:
More...

Reply to Thread
Subject:  Help
From:
Preview   Automatic Linebreaks   Make a link ("blue clicky")


Mudcat time: 19 December 8:38 AM EST

[ Home ]

All original material is copyright © 1998 by the Mudcat Café Music Foundation, Inc. All photos, music, images, etc. are copyright © by their rightful owners. Every effort is taken to attribute appropriate copyright to images, content, music, etc. We are not a copyright resource.