Rock Like a Pirate: A Swashbuckling Playlist

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Dead men tell no tales, but the rest of us can rock on! Original illustration: Howard Pyle, Public Domain.

Avast! Are your Talk Like a Pirate Day festivities getting a bit too marooned, becalmed, and in need of bringing a little spring upon her cable and wind in her sails?

It’s time to tune up the old hornpipe with some of my favorite pirate-themed rock ditties to put a little rock in your reel and spice in your shanty.

“Shipwrecked” by Alestorm

Alestorm’s music is not always family friendly, but you gotta have at least one song by this Scottish heavy metal band who has come represent the face of “Pirate Metal.” Originally called Battleheart, they’ve been around since at least 2004, but got a little increased attention this year as part of the Vans Warped Tour.

“Seven Deadly Sins” by Flogging Molly

Pretty much every song by Flogging Molly will make you want to jump up and down, but their tribute to the freedom, friendship, and fast-living of the pirate life should have you running for the next departing ship. Their song “Salty Dog” is also a worthy pirate tune, but the Terry Gilliam-meets-Ed Hardy video for “Seven Deadly Sins” gives it that extra push overboard.

“Pirates of the Caribbean – He’s A Pirate Meets Metal” by Eric Calderone

If YouTube is good for anything, it’s for looking for metal covers of pretty much every movie theme ever written. Oh yes, there are boatloads of “Pirates” covers. Some of them are, well, let’s just say, good efforts, but the one best metal covers is from the ultimate geeky metal cover dude, Eric Calderone (331Erock). He also has some great covers from his Star Wars theme series, as well as Game of Thrones and several video games.

For a more orchestra-heavy version, the symphonic metal band Epica’s version is fantastic:

“Stand & Deliver”  by Adam & The Ants

Okay, technically, this is a song about a highwayman, but I chose it over his actual “pirate” song, “Jolly Roger,” because is it just a little more motivating and filled with retro silliness. Ant, after all, helped launch the pirate-themed fashion weirdness in the 1980s. I even dressed as him for Halloween one year in college. Plus, he’s actually a history-buff, with a tattoo of Lord Nelson’s last prayer before the Battle of Trafalgar on his arm. For these reasons and more, I’ll let this landlubbing highwayman heist anthem join his pirates at sea.

“Drunken Sailor” by Happy Ol’ McWeasel

There have been countless covers of this traditional sea shanty, but this Irish punk band, that actually hails from Slovenia, really makes it rock. If you want to wake up a drunken sailor, blast this one in surround sound early in the morning.

“Join the Riot” by Paddy and the Rats

These Hungarian pub punkers are favorites of my teenager’s (and mine), and they veer to the pirate side of things quite often. They also have a fun version of “Drunken Sailor” but this song is a great example of their upbeat original tunes. Also give a listen to “The Captain’s Dead,” and pretty much everything else you can find by them.

“Pirates Life for Me” by The Gobshites

Finally, there couldn’t be a Talk Like Pirate Day list without a great punky tribute to the Disney parks’ Pirates of the Caribbean attraction’s “Yo Ho, A Pirate’s Life for Me.” The lyrics in this Gobshites version are changed around a little bit, but the spirit of the song is there.

The original lyrics, were written by Disney Imagineering legend Francis Xavier “X” Atencio, who also provided the voice for the foreboding Jolly Roger skull at the start of the ride.

“X” Atencio passed away Sept. 4, just days before his 99th birthday. This list is dedicated to him. May he be off “seeking adventure with salty old pirates” and avoiding Davey Jones and the “squalls up ahead” wherever he may be.