“In the immediate nearness of the gold, all else had been forgotten, and I could not doubt that he hoped to seize upon the treasure, find and board the Hispanola under cover of night, cut every honest throat about that island, and sail away as he had at first intended, laden with crimes and riches.” ― Robert Louis Stevenson, Treasure Island
“If 'piracy means using the creative property of others without their permission' ≠ if 'if value, then right' is true – then the history of the content industry is a history of piracy. Every important sector of 'big media' today - film, records, radio, and cable TV-was born of a kind of piracy so defined. The consistent story is how last generation’s pirates join this generation’s country club-until now.” ― Lawrence Lessig, Free Culture: The Nature and Future of Creativity
When my wife and I moved into our first flat most of our belongings were with family and friends, spread across the country. We lived through that first cold winter on little but warm fires, affection, a beat box and about half a dozen tapes. One of these was Die Dreigroschenoper (The Threepenny Opera) in the original German, a language neither of us understood very well.
We were spellbound by this wonderful music, strange yet familiar, and played the tapes to death. That love has never faded.
So, please forgive me for choosing Pirate Jenny, not once, not twice, but three times. It is a song I love dearly, especially in Lotte Lenya’s definitive rendition. Further down the playlist are Nina Simone’s individualistic take and Jacques Loussier’s sprightly reading. Interspersed with other songs in a piratical vein.
So, to the Beastie Boys and Rhymin’ and Stealin’
We got sixteen men on a dead man's chest
And I shot those suckers and I'll shoot the rest
The appropriation of the image of the pirate by modern-day businessmen and financiers raises a hollow laugh, until you consider how they will rob you blind repeatedly until forcibly stopped. Perhaps they intended something else when calling themselves modern day buccaneers?
Ry Cooder’s take on what has been called socialism for the few:
Well the bankers called a meetin', to the whitehouse they went one day
They was going to call one the president, in a quiet and a sociable way
The afternoon was sunny and the weather it was fine
They counted all our money and no banker was left behind
Richard Thompson’s Little Blue Number may well be about intellectual property theft, or just a terrific dress.
Where did you get that little blue number?
How do you squeeze into something like that?
Is that the same one I was wearing last summer?
Next up, Flogging Molly with the moving tale of an old sea rover sentenced to hang. His shipmate casts a teary eye over the scene, his old captain on the gallows with opportunist crows all around.
One flew down plucked out yer eye
The other he had in his sights
You snarled at him, said leave me be
I need the bugger so I can see
Like many a child in 70s Britain, I was enthralled by Sheila K McCullagh’s Griffin Pirate Stories. These were designed to build up reading skills among the young but were so much more. Gregory the Green, Roderick the Red and Benjamin the Blue pirate were wonderfully vivid characters, standing in stark contrast to the dull reality of a decade of brown and beige. Joaquin Sebina wrote this for his daughter, imagining a different life, not as a singer, but out on the ocean wave.
But if I get to choose
from all these lives I'll take
that of the hobbling pirate
with a peg leg,
The weekend saw a number of wonderful reggae and dub tunes nominated. Spent a blissful few hours on Saturday going through them. Special thanks to Uncleben and Mogdog. Space being what it is, will make do with Pirates Anthem (Home T, Cocoa Tea & Shabba Ranks), a different take on piracy. The DTI, I remember that!
Them a call us pirates,
Them a call us illegal broadcasters.
DTI try stop us, but they can't, oh no they can't
Followed by Yo Ha (The Viceroys):
Sixteen men on a dead man's chest
Yaho, Yaho, Yaho and a bottle of rum
John Cale’s Captain Hook is a barbed tale of life as a member of the East India Company. Always thought the Pirates of the Caribbean series got it right with this lot (stellar performance by the mighty Tom Hollander): privateers, pirates, colonists.
By hook or by crook
I am the captain of this line.
Hanne Hukkelberg’s The Pirate details the ultimate journey, a dive into infinity.
A dive into
A dive into water.
Then back to the Weill. Oh, and another bit:
It's fun to charter an accountant
And sail the wide accountancy,
To find, explore the funds offshore
And skirt the shoals of bankruptcy
Those sad office workers, they just can’t help themselves.
The Aaaar-list Playlist:
Pirate Jenny – Lotte Lenya
Rhymin' & Stealin' – Beastie Boys
No Banker Left Behind – Ry Cooder
Little Blue Number – Richard Thompson
Salty Dog – Flogging Molly
La del Pirata Cojo – Joaquin Sabina
Pirate Jenny – Nina Simone
Pirates Anthem – Home T. Cocoa Tea & Shabba Ranks
Yo Ha – The Viceroys
Captain Hook – John Cale
The Pirate – Hanne Hukkelberg
La Fiancee Du Pirate – Jacques Loussier
Accountancy Shanty – Monty Python's Flying Circus
Blistering Barnacles B-list Playlist:
Blackbeard – Horrible Histories
Jolly Roger – Adam & The Ants
Pirates – Lee Perry and the Mad Professor
Ya Hoo – Louie Culture and Anthony Selassie
Raider – Chrome
Sally's Curse – Cadaver Club
A Salty Dog – Procul Harum
Henry Martin – Joan Baez
Pirate Girls Nine – They Might Be Giants
Turkish Song of the Damned – The Pogues
Singapore – Tom Waits
Mermaid Song – New Model Army
Airship Pirates – Abney Park
Guru's Wildcard Pick:
With cat like tread – from The Pirates of Penzance, lots of nominations from this piece, but not this one.
Flashmob version by Redcliffe Musical Theatre:
These playlists were inspired by readers' song nominations from last week's topic: Arrr! It's songs about pirates and piracy. The next topic will launch on Thursday at 1pm UK time.
New to comment? It is quick and easy. You just need to login to Disqus once. All is explained in About/FAQs ...
Fancy a turn behind the pumps at The Song Bar? Care to choose a playlist from songs nominated and write something about it? Then feel free to contact The Song Bar here, or try the usual email address.