Album: Works, Volume 1 (1977)

Songfacts®:

  • This song was written by Keith Emerson and Greg Lake, with Pete Sinfield contributing the lyrics. Sinfield and Lake were bandmates in King Crimson, and when Emerson, Lake & Palmer formed, the pair continued writing together.

    The fun little urban legend is that Lake and Sinfield wrote this song after riding the Pirates Of The Carribean ride at Disneyland. Sinfield, however, says they had simply watched a lot of Errol Flynn movies. In an interview with Record Collector, he explained: "The idea was pirates as an allegory for a rock band on tour. When I read up on the subject it soon became obvious that pirates weren't at all romantic, they were reprehensible people - like the Kray Twins at sea! Keith's music was very Gilbert & Sullivan, it was extraordinarily difficult to get the true nature of piracy into it, and I wrote most of it in Montreux, perhaps the lest piratical place on Earth. I had to write to music that was already fixed and I only had 20 minutes to unfold this epic narrative. It should have been at least twice as long."
  • Drummer Carl Palmer was very impressed with this lyric. "When you look at things like 'Pirates,' the lyrics are fantastic there, and the combination of those two guys working together, Sinfield and Lake, really worked," he said in his Songfacts interview. "When it hit off, it really hit big and fantastic."

Comments: 2

  • Eugene from London Fantastic song from brilliant artists
  • Brian from Desmoines, IaWhen I first heard this on a progressive FM station, I thought it was Aaron Copland and friends agreed with me. I really like this piece. It really weaves a story. The video is almost "why bother?". Pretty bad, but maybe could be done with clips from the "Pirates of the Caribean" movies. Great song!
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