Pirate Jenny

"Pirate Jenny" (German: "Seeräuber-Jenny") is a well-known song from The Threepenny Opera by Kurt Weill, with lyrics by Bertolt Brecht. The English lyrics are by Marc Blitzstein. It is probably the second most famous song in the opera, after "Mack the Knife".

Content and context

The song depicts Low-Dive Jenny (German: Spelunken-Jenny), a character based on Jenny Diver (1700–1741).[1] Low-Dive Jenny is a lowly maid at a "crummy old hotel", imagining avenging herself for the contempt she endures from the townspeople. A pirate ship – with eight sails, and with 50 cannons[2] – enters the harbor, fires on the city and flattens every building except the hotel. The pirates come ashore, chain up all the townspeople, and present them to Jenny, who orders the pirates to kill them all. She then sails away with the pirates.

The song was originally placed in the first act and sung by Mackie's bride, Polly Peachum, who resents her parents' opposition to her trying her luck with Mackie and is fantasizing about avenging herself on the constraints of her family. However, the song is frequently moved to the second act and given to the prostitute Jenny. Jenny has given Mackie, her former lover, shelter from the police but is jealous of his wife, Polly. Eventually, she tips off the police, who catch Mackie and take him to his hanging. Her song suggests that she likes the idea of having Mackie's fate in her hands.

Cover versions

Many notable artists have covered this song independent of the stage show: Lotte Lenya (who originated the role of Jenny), Ute Lemper, Hildegard Knef, Nina Simone, The Dresden Dolls, Judy Collins, Marianne Faithfull, and Bea Arthur. The Young Gods covered the song in their tribute album The Young Gods Play Kurt Weill. Xiu Xiu covered the song in their Nina Simone tribute album Nina. Shilpa Ray covered the song with Nick Cave and Warren Ellis on Son of Rogues Gallery: Pirate Ballads, Sea Songs & Chanteys (2013).[3]

In popular culture

  • Clifford Harper drew a graphic adaptation of the song, entitled "The Black Freighter" in the magazine Anarchy No. 2.[4]
  • Comic-book writer Alan Moore cited this song as one of the inspirations for the Black Freighter pirate material in Watchmen.[5] The Nina Simone version also appears on the soundtrack for the motion picture.
  • In The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, also written by Alan Moore, Jenny's revenge fantasy is taken as a literal event in which "Janni", who is Captain Nemo's daughter, is gang raped and summons the crew of the Nautilus to slaughter her rapists and the indifferent spectators alike.
  • The song was inspiration for Lars von Trier's Dogville (2003), a film about a mistreated woman who seeks revenge on her neighbors.[6]
  • The song is mentioned in Bob Dylan's 2004 memoir Chronicles: Volume One as a turning point in his early songwriting development.
  • The song is paraphrased on Chico Buarque's "Geni e o Zepelim". This song is a number from his musical play Ópera do Malandro, which is based on Brecht's The Threepenny Opera.


  1. ^ Du Noyer, Paul (2010). In the City: A Celebration of London Music. London, England: Virgin Books. p. 19. ISBN 978-0753515747.
  2. ^ "Die Seeräuber-Jenny", Brecht's text (in German)
    "Seeräuberjenny" ("Pirate Jenny"), German and English text
  3. ^ Legget, Steve. Son of Rogues Gallery: Pirate Ballads, Sea Songs & Chantey at AllMusic
  4. ^ In The New Comics Anthology, Bob Callahan, ed., Collier Books, 1991, pp. 170–173.
  5. ^ "The Alan Moore Interview" at blather.net
  6. ^ In Lars von Trier: Interviews, Jan Lumholdt, ed., University Press of Mississippi, 2003, p. 206.

External links

20th Century Blues (Marianne Faithfull album)

20th Century Blues is a live 1996 album by British singer-actress Marianne Faithfull, in collaboration with pianist Paul Trueblood.

Captain Bogg and Salty

Captain Bogg and Salty was a pirate-themed rock band from Portland, Oregon, and a representative member of the subgenre of pirate rock. The band was well known for their live shows, performed in full pirate regalia. The band members each portrayed crew members of the pirate ship Pollywogg, ranging from the ship's captain, Angus Bogg, to the lowly deck-hand Salty.The band enjoyed success in the Pacific Northwest as both children's entertainers, and as a band enjoyed by adults—having performed numerous sold-out appearances in both children's venues (such as libraries) and adult venues (such as nightclubs). They performed the same material in both types of venue; they have been quite adept at crossing the generation gap.

Ellen McLaughlin

Ellen McLaughlin (born November 9, 1957) is an American playwright and actress. Her plays include Septimus and Clarissa, Ajax in Iraq, Days and Nights Within, A Narrow Bed, Infinity's House, Iphigenia and Other Daughters, Tongue of a Bird, The Trojan Women, Helen, The Persians and Oedipus.

Producers include: Actors' Theater of Louisville, The Actors’ Gang L.A., Classic Stage Co., N.Y., The Intiman Theater, Seattle, Almeida Theater, London, The Mark Taper Forum, L.A., the Public Theater in NYC, The Oregon Shakespeare Festival, The National Actors’ Theater, N.Y.,and The Guthrie Theater, MN, among many other venues.

Grants and awards include: Great American Play Contest, Susan Smith Blackburn Prize, the NEA, the Writer's Award from the Lila Wallace-Reader's Digest Fund, the Berilla Kerr Award for playwrighting, and the NEA/TCG Theatre Residency Grant.

McLaughlin is also an actress, having worked on and Off Broadway as well as extensively in regional theater. She is most well known for having originated the part of the Angel in Tony Kushner's Angels in America, appearing in every U.S. production from its earliest workshops through its Broadway run.

Other favorite roles include The Homebody in Homebody/Kabul (Intiman Theater, Seattle),

Pirate Jenny in Threepenny Opera (Trinity Rep. Elliot Norton Award), Mrs. Alving in Ghosts (Berkeley Rep.) Titania in A Midsummer Night's Dream at the McCarter and the Paper Mill Playhouse, A Delicate Balance, (Arena Stage, Yale Rep.) Good People (George St. Playhouse, Seattle Rep.), Dear Elizabeth (People's Light and Theater) and Outside Mullingar (George St. Playhouse.)

Her on-screen credits include Everything Relative, The Bed You Sleep In, with guest appearances on Law & Order.

She has taught playwrighting in numerous venues, from Yale School of Drama to Princeton University. She has been teaching at Barnard College since 1995.

She is a member of New Dramatists and has served on the board of T.C.G.

Her most recent publication, by T.C.G., is The Greek Plays.

She is married to Rinde Eckert, a theatre artist and composer. She attended The Potomac School in McLean, Virginia for elementary school (through 9th grade). She subsequently attended and graduated from Sidwell Friends School, in Washington, DC. She graduated from Sidwell Friends School in 1976. She graduated from Yale University in 1980, summa cum laude.

Gabriel Shaoolian

Gabriel Shaoolian (born April 21, 1973) is a digital trends expert and the founder and CEO of the New York City digital agency Blue Fountain Media.

In My Life (Judy Collins album)

In My Life is an album by American singer and songwriter Judy Collins, released in 1966. It peaked at No. 46 on the Billboard Pop Albums charts in 1967.Working with arranger Joshua Rifkin, many of the songs on the album featured dramatic orchestral arrangements, a departure from Collins' previous albums, which had all been more straightforward folk music. The album included work by Leonard Cohen, The Beatles, Bob Dylan and Richard Fariña. Collins' version of the song "Suzanne" is considered to be the recording that first introduced Leonard Cohen's music to a wide audience.Allmusic stated "Judy Collins was already an accomplished interpretive singer before recording this album, but In My Life found her widening her horizons and revealing an even greater gift than one might have imagined; for the most part, it's a superb album and still one of her best."

The album was certified Gold by the RIAA in 1970, for sales of over 500,000 copies in the US.

Jennifer Doyle

Jennifer Doyle is a Professor of English at the University of California, Riverside. She is a queer theorist, art critic and sports writer.

She is the author of Campus Sex, Campus Security (2015), which explores the intersection of discourse on sexual harassment and campus security, Hold it Against Me: Difficulty and Emotion in Contemporary Art (2013), which examines how artists work with emotion, and Sex Objects: Art and the Dialectics of Desire (2006), which considers how artworks are about sex. Along with José Esteban Muñoz and Jonathan Flatley, Doyle is co-editor of Pop Out: Queer Warhol (1996). She is also widely known for her feminist sports blogs, "From a Left Wing" (2007–2013) and "The Sports Spectacle." She was a co-host for KPFK Los Angeles's "The People's Game," a daily podcast for the 2010 FIFA World Cup, and wrote online commentary for Fox Soccer during the 2011 FIFA Women's World Cup.

From 2002 to 2005 she dj'd for Vaginal Davis's weekly club Bricktops as "Pirate Jenny de Montpellier." She is currently a member of the volunteer collective which runs the artspace Human Resources Los Angeles.

Doyle has taught American literature, visual culture and queer theory at the University of California, Riverside since 1999. In 2012, Doyle won an Arts Writers Grant from Creative Capital | The Warhol Foundation. She was also the 2013-2014 Fulbright Distinguished Chair at the University of the Arts, London.

Let No One Deceive You

Let No One Deceive You: Songs of Bertolt Brecht (or simply Let No One Deceive You) is an album by American folk and blues singer Dave Van Ronk and vocalist Frankie Armstrong, released in 1992. It consists completely of songs by Bertolt Brecht.

Margo Lion (cabaret singer)

Marguerite Hélène Barbe Elisabeth Constantine Lion (28 February 1899 – 24 February 1989), known as Margo Lion, was a French chanteuse, parodist, cabaret singer and actress, best known for her role as Pirate Jenny in director G.W. Pabst's 1931 French language adaptation of Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill's Threepenny Opera (Die Dreigroschenoper).

She appeared in several French films until the early 1970s, including Docteur Françoise Gailland, L'Humeur Vagabonde, La Faute De L'Abbe Mouret, Le Petit Matin, Le Fou Du Labo, Julie La Rousse, and the French romantic melodrama Martin Roumagnac, which starred Marlene Dietrich. Lion and Dietrich sang a famous duet, "Wenn die beste Freundin mit der besten Freundin", a song which allegedly had lesbian overtones. It became a hit in Weimar Berlin prior to Dietrich's departure for Hollywood.

Nina (Xiu Xiu album)

Nina is a Nina Simone tribute album recorded by Xiu Xiu. It was released on Graveface Records on December 3, 2013 to generally favorable reviews.

Nina Simone in Concert

Nina Simone in Concert is an album by jazz singer Nina Simone. It was her first album for the record label Philips and consisted of three live recordings made at Carnegie Hall, New York City, in March and April 1964. She recorded Nina Simone at Carnegie Hall in 1963 for Colpix. This album marked the beginning of "Nina Simone, the Civil Rights singer" in her recording career; she had already incorporated the civil rights message in her performances. Included on the album are political songs, such as "Mississippi Goddam", released as a single at the time. "Old Jim Crow", "Go Limp" "Pirate Jenny" contributed to the message in a covert or metaphorical way. The album was rated 94th best album of the 1960s by Pitchfork.

Sarah Jane Morris (singer)

Sarah Jane Morris (born 21 March 1959, in Southampton, England) is an English singer of pop, jazz, rock and R&B and a songwriter.

In 1982, Morris joined The Republic as lead singer. A London-based Afro-Caribbean-Latin band with leftish tendencies, they received enormous publicity from the music press including cover stories with NME and City Limits and a documentary for Granada TV. But the band was deemed too political for radio play, with the exception of Capital London. The Republic were signed to Charlie Gillett's Oval Records Ltd and released an EP entitled Three Songs From The Republic and two singles entitled "One Chance" and "My Spies". Success did not follow and the band split up in 1984.

Morris then sang with The Happy End, a 21-piece brass band named after Bertolt Brecht, Elisabeth Hauptmann and Kurt Weill's musical play. Playing a circuit that included Brighton's Zap Club and the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, The Happy End explored protest music from Africa, Ireland and Latin America on a way that emulated Charlie Haden's Liberation Music Orchestra.

Morris explored her more theatrical side on Brecht/Eisler's There's Nothing Quite Like Money and Brecht/Weill's Pirate Jenny from The Threepenny Opera.

The Happy End released two albums on the Cooking Vinyl label with Morris. Following a successful Edinburgh run in 1986, Morris then decamped to chart success with The Communards.

Morris found fame initially with the Communards, who are best known for their hit "Don't Leave Me This Way". Morris featured prominently on many Communards tracks, her low vocal range contrasting with Jimmy Somerville's falsetto. She has also recorded as a solo artist, releasing albums since 1989. These have enjoyed most popularity in Italy and Greece.Morris also contributed to the opera The Fall of the House of Usher (1991) by Peter Hammill and Judge Smith, singing the part of the chorus. She also sang the part of Mère Ubu on the Pere Ubu album Long Live Père Ubu! (2009), which features songs from Bring Me The Head of Pere Ubu, David Thomas's theatrical adaptation of Alfred Jarry's Ubu Roi.

She is a cousin of American author Armistead Maupin.Morris is managed by Juliet Sharman Matthews who runs JPSM Management and was her A & R Manager when she was signed to Jive Records.

Shilpa Ray

Shilpa Ray is an American singer-songwriter from Brooklyn, New York with a blues punk sound. Her music has been compared to Blondie, The Cramps and Screamin' Jay Hawkins and her singing has been compared to the style of

Patti Smith, Nick Cave, and Ella Fitzgerald. Ray is notable for combining an Indian harmonium with a "big-voiced blues-rock howler" vocal approach. Her eponymous band signed a record contract with Northern Spy Records and has toured internationally.

Ray formed another band, Shilpa Ray and Her Happy Hookers, which Boston Globe critic Jonathan Perry described as the "best-named band" in a lineup of numerous indie bands in July 2010.

Ray was the songwriter and band leader, and described her role in her band to being similar to being in a "democracy under a dictatorship". She has performed with Patti Smith and Lenny Kaye. They also toured extensively with Man Man and Acid Mothers Temple. In an interview, she commented about being a female artist: "I think Feminism in America went through a huge backlash during the W. Bush years. We are now going through a cool Renaissance. There are tons of amazing female musicians and artists on the scene with something to contribute and it's not cheesy, kitschy, or female centric. It's universal."Ray's band performed at the SXSW festival in 2011 in Austin, Texas and was invited to the Billboard event at the Buffalo Billiards venue. She offered advice to struggling artists: "The hardship of being an artist in this country is gender neutral. Own yourself, what you do, how you live and don't worry about the end results."After splitting with Her Happy Hookers in 2011, Shilpa toured Europe and North America with Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds as a backup singer and their supporting act. She recorded a version of "Pirate Jenny" featuring Nick Cave and Warren Ellis for "Son of Rogue Gallery: Pirate Ballads, Sea Songs & Chanteys released February 2013 by Anti/Epitaph.

A new album entitled "Last Year's Savage" was released in 2015 on Northern Spy Records.

Storm Force Ten

Storm Force Ten is an album by British folk rock band Steeleye Span, the band's 10th effort, released in 1977.

Until their 2013 album Wintersmith, released 36 years after Storm Force Ten, this album was the band's last production to reach the charts, topping out at 191 on Billboard's Pop charts. After Rocket Cottage, Bob Johnson and Peter Knight left the band. As there was still a contractual obligation, they invited Martin Carthy back again. Back in 1971 when Martin Carthy had joined he had recommended John Kirkpatrick but they decided on fiddler Peter Knight instead. This time they accepted his recommendation and Kirkpatrick's fiery accordion playing replaced Knight's fiddle.

John Tobler writes on the 1996 reissue of Storm Force Ten:

Steeleye's ninth original LP, Rocket Cottage was released in late 1976, and appeared only weeks before 'Anarchy in the UK', the debut single by The Sex Pistols, which may have contributed to the less than spectacular chart showing of the Steeleye LP. It was again produced by Mike Batt, but when the follow up to a Top 10 album fails to reach the Top 40, something is amiss.The title may refer to the fact that Storm Force Ten is their tenth album or it may be a reference to tensions the band was experiencing after producing 10 albums in just 7 years and performing almost continuously during that period. Mike Batt pressured the band to record Rocket Cottage in only one week. The band nominally broke up after the album was released. Shortly after the album was released vocalist Maddy Prior released her first solo album.

The band had occasionally sung quite long songs - "Long Lankin" on "Commoner's Crown", "The Victory" here, and "Montrose" (over 15 minutes) on their next (live) album. Arguably "The Victory" is the best of their long tracks because of the masterful variations in tempo, instrumentation and choice of voices. The biggest surprisewas the inclusion of two Brecht songs. Martin Carthy had sung "Wife of the Soldier" on Byker Hill, using Brecht's words, but the music of Johnny Scott instead of the original music by Kurt Weill. The same arrangement is used here. PJ Harvey later recorded it, as did the Oysterband and Marianne Faithfull. "Pirate Jenny" (The Black Freighter) had been recorded by Judy Collins in the 1960s and it was later to be sung by Barbara Dickson. Maddy gives these two Brecht songs an appropriate flavour of cynicism. According to Hugh Fielder in the pop paper Sounds in 1977, there is an uncredited musician here - Mike Batt playing synthesizer.The album is unusual in that it is the only Steeleye album that does not use a fiddle at all. Instead John Kirkpatrick plays accordion, giving the whole album a very distinct sound from the rest of the band's output. No other Steeleye studio album features an accordion, although Hark! The Village Wait features a concertina on several songs.

The album cover is by the English commercial artist Adrian Chesterman, who was also responsible for creating album art for, amongst others, Motörhead for their 1979 'Bomber' album and Chris Rea for his 1989 'Road To Hell' album.

The Seven Deadly Sins (album)

The Seven Deadly Sins is a studio recording of the Kurt Weill Opera of the same name by Marianne Faithfull, released in 1998.

The Threepenny Opera

The Threepenny Opera (Die Dreigroschenoper) is a "play with music" by Bertolt Brecht, adapted from a translation by Elisabeth Hauptmann of John Gay's 18th-century English ballad opera, The Beggar's Opera, and four ballads by François Villon, with music by Kurt Weill. Although there is debate as to how much, if any, Hauptmann might have contributed to the text, Brecht is usually listed as sole author.The work offers a socialist critique of the capitalist world. It opened on 31 August 1928 at Berlin's Theater am Schiffbauerdamm.

Songs from The Threepenny Opera have been widely covered and become standards, most notably "Die Moritat von Mackie Messer" ("The Ballad of Mack the Knife") and "Seeräuberjenny" ("Pirate Jenny").

Vaccination Records

Vaccination Records was a record label based in Oakland, California throughout the 1990s and early millennium. It was managed by Dren McDonald and featured avant-garde and experimental music groups.

Watchmen (TV series)

Watchmen is an upcoming American drama television series, based on the comic book limited series of the same name created by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons, that is set to premiere in 2019 on HBO. The series was created by Damon Lindelof, who is also set to write and executive produce.

When the Ship Comes In

"When the Ship Comes In" is a folk music song by Bob Dylan, released on his third album, The Times They Are a-Changin', in 1964.

Joan Baez states in the documentary film No Direction Home that the song was inspired by a hotel clerk who refused to allow Dylan a room due to his "unwashed" appearance (he was not famous outside of the folk movement at this time). The song then grew into a sprawling epic allegory about vanquishing the oppressive "powers that be". Another inspiration was the Bertolt Brecht/Kurt Weill song, "Pirate Jenny".According to biographer Clinton Heylin, "When The Ship Comes In" was written in August 1963 "in a fit of pique, in a hotel room, after his unkempt appearance had led an impertinent hotel clerk to refuse him admission until his companion, Joan Baez, had vouched for his good character". Heylin speculates that "Jenny's Song" from Brecht and Weill's Threepenny Opera was also an inspiration: "As Pirate Jenny dreams of the destruction of all her enemies by a mysterious ship, so Dylan envisages the neophobes being swept aside in 'the hour when the ship comes in'." Dylan's former girlfriend Suze Rotolo recalls that her "interest in Brecht was certainly an influence on him. I was working for the Circle in the Square Theater and he came to listen all the time. He was very affected by the song that Lotte Lenya's known for, 'Pirate Jenny'."Shortly after Dylan wrote the song, he and Baez performed it together at the March on Washington on August 28, 1963, as heard on Dylan's Live 1962-1966: Rare Performances From The Copyright Collections album (2018). Dylan later performed the song at Carnegie Hall on October 26, 1963; this performance was included on The Bootleg Series Vol. 7: No Direction Home: The Soundtrack (2005).

Dylan performed the song during Live Aid on July 13, 1985, accompanied by Keith Richards and Ron Wood of the Rolling Stones.

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