Failogue: Ella Fitzgerald Forgot the Words

“Mack the Knife” is a jazz classic that was introduced to the world by Louis Armstrong. Bobby Darin’s recording of the song earned him a Grammy Award for Record of the Year.

With that legacy to live up to, Ella Fitzgerald took the song to the stage and forgot the words. Instead of falling apart, she improvises without missing a beat:

“Oh what’s the next chorus, to this song, now
This is the one, now I don’t know
But it was a swinging tune and it’s a hit tune
So we tried to do Mack the Knife

Ah, Louis Miller, oh, something about cash
Yeah, Miller, he was spending that trash
And Macheath dear, he spends like a sailor
Tell me, tell me, tell me could that boy do, something rash?

Oh Bobby Darin and Louis Armstrong
They made a record, oh but they did
And now Ella, Ella, and her fellas
We’re making a wreck, what a wreck of Mack the Knife”

“Mack the Knife” has been recorded by dozens of artists, but to many, Ella’s version is considered the best. Even though she made a “wreck of Mack the Knife,” she won two Grammys for the performance.

Failogue is a series that brings you stories of failure. Failure from those who showed up. Failure from those who took risks. Failure from those who won.

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