Brecht and Weill's version of the song was first performed by the Viennese actress and dancer Lotte Lenya, Weill's wife, in the role of Jessie at the 1927 Baden-Baden Festival's performance of Little Mahagonny. The first recording of the song--by Lenya for the Homocord record label--came out in early 1930 under the title "Alabama-Song"; it was rerecorded the same year for the Ultraphon record label for release with the 1930 Leipzig premiere of The Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny, despite Lenya not being a member of that cast. She continued to perform and record the song throughout her life, including for her 1955 album Lotte Lenya Sings Kurt Weill (Lotte Lenya singt Kurt Weill), released in the United States under the title Berlin Theater Songs.
The song was recorded in 1966 by the rock group The Doors, listed as "Alabama Song (Whisky Bar)". The melody is changed and the verse beginning "Show me the way to the next little dollar..." is omitted. On the album version, lead singer Jim Morrison altered the second verse from "Show us the way to the next pretty boy" to "Show me the way to the next little girl" but, on the 1967 Live at the Matrix recording, he sings the original "... next pretty boy".
Bowie, a Brecht fan, incorporated the song into Isolar II, his 1978 World Tour. He cut a version at Tony Visconti's studio after the European leg of the tour, and in 1980 it was issued as a single to hasten the end of Bowie's contract with RCA.
With unconventional key changes, the track "seemed calculated to disrupt any radio programme on which it was lucky enough to get played". Nevertheless, backed with a stripped-down acoustic version of "Space Oddity" recorded in December 1979, the single reached No. 23 in the UK. Although Bowie also changed the "little boy" line like Morrison, he sang Weill's original melody.
Bowie would appear in a BBC version of Brecht's Baal, and release an EP of songs from the play. He performed "Alabama Song" again on his 1990 Sound+Vision Tour and 2002 Heathen tours.
In internet horror game Sad Satan a slowed down version of this song can be heard in the background at some points which may cause the listener to feel nauseous while it plays.
Selective list of recorded versions
The song has been covered often:
Jazz musicians Eric Dolphy and John Lewis recorded Mack the Knife and Other Berlin Theatre Songs of Kurt Weill, an album of Kurt Weill tunes in 1964. "Alabama Song" was performed by a band consisting of Dolphy on bass clarinet, Lewis on piano, Nick Travis on trumpet, Mike Zwerin on trombone, Richard Davis on double bass, and Connie Kay on drums. The solo order is trombone, piano, and bass clarinet. Zwerin asked Dolphy to "play what [he] felt about Alabama".
Abwärts, the song featured in the 1980 EP Computerstaat the German punk band.
Dalida, the song was covered by the French chanteuse in English during the 1980s. She changed the lyrics in verses to "Show me the way to the next little dollar" and "For if we don't find the next petit dollar."
Kazik Staszewski covered the song by interpreting the lyrics and adding a new verse. Moreover, the song was performed in rock style. The song was published on the album Melodie Kurta Weill'a i co? ponadto (The Melodies of Kurt Weill and Something More) released in 2001.
The Bobs, an American a cappella quartet recorded an arrangement of the song on their 2005 album Rhapsody in Bob.
Arthur H., French singer (Jacques Higelin's son) and Jeanne Cherhal also covered the song live in 2007 at the Muzik'Elles festival in Meaux (France). In English, playing four-hand piano, a video was released.
Max Raabe and Palast Orchester of Germany performs the song live (as "Moon of Alabama"), albeit only its first verse and the chorus, recorded on a two-CD set of the Carnegie Hall performance in November 2007 titled Heute Nacht Oder Nie (Tonight or Never)
Amy X Neuburg, an Oakland, California composer, vocalist, and electronic musician recorded a version on Sports! Chips! Booty! in 2000.