What Keeps Mankind Alive?

Pet Shop Boys

About What Keeps Mankind Alive?

"What Keeps Mankind Alive?" is a song composed by Kurt Weill with lyrics by Bertolt Brecht for their music drama The Threepenny Opera (Die Dreigroschenoper) which premiered in Berlin in 1928 at the Theater am Schiffbauerdamm. The title refers to the central line from the finale of act 2, Denn wovon lebt der Mensch?. In the opera, the two stanzas of the strophic piece are sung by Macheath and Mrs Peachum and the final line is sung in fortissimo by the chorus. It is an agitprop socialist anthem expressing that the comfortable lifestyle enjoyed by the rich is paid for by the suffering of the masses. The lyrics begin: "You gentlemen who think you have a mission / To purge us from the seven deadly sins / Should first sort out the basic food position / Then start your preaching, that's where it begins." The song ends with the conclusion, "For once you must not try to shirk the facts / Mankind is kept alive by bestial acts." Translated into English by Marc Blitzstein, the song has been covered by Tom Waits (on the 1985 album Lost in the Stars: The Music of Kurt Weill, and again on the 2006 album Orphans: Brawlers, Bawlers & Bastards), the Pet Shop Boys (as a B-side on the single "Can You Forgive Her?" and on the 1995 compilation album Alternative), William S. Burroughs (in the 1994 documentary September Songs – The Music of Kurt Weill), and others. The opening chapter in The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Volume III: Century is named "What Keeps Mankind Alive?". 


Year:
1995
143 Views
Playlists:
#1

 Watch: New Singing Lesson Videos Can Make Anyone A Great Singer

You gentlemen who think you have a mission
To purge us of the seven deadly sins
Should first sort out the basic food position
Then start your preaching, that's where it begins

You lot, who preach restraint and watch your waist as well
Should learn for all time how the world is run
However much you twist, whatever lies you tell
Food is the first thing, morals follow on

[Chorus]
So first make sure that those, who now are starving
Get proper helpings, when we all start carving
What keeps mankind alive, the fact that millions
Are daily tortured, stifled, punished, silenced, oppressed
Mankind can keep alive, thanks to its brilliance
At keeping its humanity repressed
For once, you must not try to shirk the facts
Mankind is kept alive by bestial acts

You say the girls may strip with your permission 
You draw the line dividing art from sin
So first sort out the basic food position
Then start your preaching, that's where it begins

You lot, who bank on your desires and our disgust
Should learn for all time how the world is run
Whatever lies you tell, however much you twist
Food is the first thing, morals follow on

[Chorus]

Mankind can keep alive, thanks to its brilliance
At keeping its humanity repressed
For once, you must not try to shirk the facts
Mankind is kept alive by bestial acts

 Watch: New Singing Lesson Videos Can Make Anyone A Great Singer


Pet Shop Boys

Pet Shop Boys are an English electronic dance music duo, consisting of Neil Tennant, who provides main vocals, keyboards and occasional guitar, and Chris Lowe on keyboards. more »

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Written by: BERTOLT BRECHT, EUGEN BERTHOLD BRECHT, KURT WEILL

Lyrics © Warner Chappell Music, Inc.

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