This cartoon group has pretty much always been a band of pirates, so it's fitting that the Gorillaz' 2010 album, 'Plastic Beach,' finds them on the high seas as the self-appointed kings of an island -- made up entirely of post-consumer refuse. On 'Pirate Jet,' the clan sarcastically drink in celebration of their good fortune.
'Oh, Better Far to Live and Die' (aka 'The Pirate King')
From 'The Pirates of Penzance'
Yes, we said we'd focus on newer pirate songs, and yes, this comic opera first debuted in 1879. One more word out of ya and you'll walk the plank -- how's that? Besides, this song sums up the appeal of the pirate lifestyle perfectly: "Oh better far to live and die under the brave black flag/Than to play a sanctimonious part!"
We may be reaching a bit, since it's just the opening spoken sample about pirate treasure, or "booty," that gives this song its name. But check out the third verse, where MCA pretty much boards 3rd Bass's ship and single-handedly renders them adrift with no sail or paddle. You can't tell us that's not first-class piracy on the high seas.
'The Trip to Pirate's Cove'
In this melancholy pirate song from 2010's 'Mojo,' Petty's ship is actually his buddy's old car, and he sings with a sense of regret about his past days plundering young girls' hearts: "She was a part of my heart/Now she's just a line in my face."
'Lincoln Park Pirates'
Chicago-based folk singer Steve Goodman's 1973 album 'Somebody Else's Troubles' featured a modern-day pirate song about the city's infamous Lincoln Towing Service. These scavengers of the roadways, and owners of the largest fleet of flatbed trucks in the Second City, were often criticized for (allegedly) towing legally parked cars and then still demanding payment before returning the vehicles.
'She Wanted to Leave'
Gene Ween faces romantic mutiny on the high seas: "Three men came aboard my ship/And took my true love from me." His first instincts, of course, are to engage the men in battle, but when he discovers the real tragedy ("I couldn't believe/She wanted to leave"), he nobly steps aside and reaches for the rum instead.
'A Professional Pirate'
Kermit, Fozzie, Miss Piggy and the gang take on Robert Louis Stevenson's classic adventure novel 'Treasure Island' in this 1996 Muppet caper. They kick things off by rejecting the lifestyle of a politician, doctor or lawyer in favor of semi-legal adventures on the seven seas. Besides, they point out, most of society's issues with pirates stem from poor public-relations skills.
'The Gruesome Death of Edward Teach'
The life and, mostly, death of Edward Teach, aka the notorious buccaneer Blackbeard, gets celebrated in perhaps the most metal pirate song ever. Blackbeard was reportedly shot no less than five times, and for good measure stabbed another 20 or so, after being surrounded by British troops. This was his reward for nearly two years of reigning terror across the mid-southern coast of America.
'A Pirate Looks at Forty'
Noted ocean lover Jimmy Buffett travels inland just far enough to contemplate the life and regrets of a modern-day pirate in this song from his 1974 album 'A1A.' In this case, it's a bartender who is dealt some drugs, drinks too much and regrets being born "200 years too late" to answer his true calling -- a life of adventure out on the sea.
In pirate lingo, the Jolly Roger is any one of several flags used to identify a boat as a pirate vessel. The skull-and-crossbones design is the most famous. But red skeletons, arrows and bleeding hearts would also do when one commandeers a ship in the manner of the heroes in (former Byrds leader) Roger McGuinn's song.