You people can watch while I'm scrubbing these floors
And I'm scrubbin' the floors while you're gawking
Maybe once ya tip me and it makes ya feel swell
In this crummy Southern town
In this crummy old hotel
But you'll never guess to who you're talkin'.
No. You couldn't ever guess to who you're talkin'.

Then one night there's a scream in the night
And you'll wonder who could that have been
And you see me kinda grinnin' while I'm scrubbin'
And you say, "What's she got to grin?"
I'll tell you.

There's a ship
The Black Freighter
With a skull on its masthead
Will be coming in

You gentlemen can say, "Hey gal, finish them floors!
Get upstairs! What's wrong with you! Earn your keep here!
You toss me your tips
And look out to the ships
But I'm counting your heads
As I'm making the beds
Cuz there's nobody gonna sleep here, honey

Then one night there's a scream in the night
And you say, "Who's that kicking up a row?"
And ya see me kinda starin' out the winda
And you say, "What's she got to stare at now?"
I'll tell ya.

There's a ship
The Black Freighter
Turns around in the harbor
Shootin' guns from her bow

You gentlemen can wipe off that smile off your face
Cause every building in town is a flat one
This whole frickin' place will be down to the ground
Only this cheap hotel standing up safe and sound
And you yell, "Why do they spare that one?"
That's what you say.
"Why do they spare that one?"

All the night through, through the noise and to-do
You wonder who is that person that lives up there?
And you see me stepping out in the morning
Looking nice with a ribbon in my hair

And the ship
The Black Freighter
Runs a flag up its masthead
And a cheer rings the air

By noontime the dock
Is a-swarmin' with men
Comin' out from the ghostly freighter
They move in the shadows
Where no one can see
And they're chainin' up people
And they're bringin' em to me
Askin' me,
"Kill them NOW, or LATER?"
Askin' ME!
"Kill them now, or later?"

Noon by the clock
And so still by the dock
You can hear a foghorn miles away
And in that quiet of death
I'll say, "Right now.
Right now!"

Then they'll pile up the bodies
And I'll say,
"That'll learn ya!"

And the ship
The Black Freighter
Disappears out to sea

Lyrics submitted by Golgotha

Pirate Jenny Lyrics as written by Nina Simone

Lyrics © Warner Chappell Music, Inc.

Lyrics powered by LyricFind

Pirate Jenny song meanings
Add Your Thoughts


sort form View by:
  • +1
    General Comment

    This song depicts the archetypal dream of every person that has been oppressed. It is about an act of revenge carried out by an unnamed woman, a maid, upon her oppressors. The song was originaly performed by the late Nina Simone. What is so compelling about this song is not only the victorious triumph with which she sings the song but also the ominus tone of the song.

    Cris925on February 13, 2006   Link
  • +1
    General Comment

    Cris925: I can neither confirm nor deny wether Nina Simone was the first one to sing it in English, but what I do know is that the original lyrics are in German and that the song was written in 1928 by Bertolt Brecht (lyrics) and Kurt Weill (music) for the musical theatre piece Die Dreigroschenoper (The Threepenny Opera). The German lyrics (which I might be able to add to SongMeanings later) are slightly different, but the overall theme of the song is the same of course.

    It's a great song, and although it's brutal and terrifying I can definitely sympathize with Pirate Jenny, at least as long as her grisly story of ultimate revenge only remains a dream.

    x-Flare-xon May 18, 2007   Link
  • +1
    General Comment

    Its comforting to imagine that this is only a song. For some people. However imagine for a moment putting yourself in in the position of being a slave or having descended from slaves- would you be able to forgive as the African American community has been asked to do? I think not some how. Nina struggled I think with being acutely aware of her peoples plight and expressing this in lyrics and music. And she had such access to emotion that one only has to listen to her music to realize how complicated and fraught it is to be human.

    Blixenon February 11, 2010   Link
  • 0
    General Comment

    Totally terrifying! Totally excellent!

    sjtmon August 14, 2006   Link

Add your thoughts

Log in now to tell us what you think this song means.

Don’t have an account? Create an account with SongMeanings to post comments, submit lyrics, and more. It’s super easy, we promise!