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"That'll learn you."

"Pirate Jenny" (1928, Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill)

You gentlemen can watch while I'm scrubbin' the floor,
And I'm scrubbin' the floor while you're gawkin',
And maybe once you tipped me and it made you feel swell
In a ratty waterfront
In this ratty old hotel.
But you never know to who you're talkin'.
You never know to who you're talkin'.

Suddenly one night there's a scream in the night,
And you yell, "What the hell could that have have been?"
And you see me kind'a grinnin' while I'm scrubbin'
And you say, "What's she got to grin?"

And the ship,
A black freighter
With a skull on its masthead,
Will be comin' in.

Then you gentlemen can say, "Hey girl, finish the floors!
Get upstairs! Make the beds! Earn your keep here!"
You toss me your tips
And look out at the ships,
But I'm countin' your heads
While I make up the beds
Cause there's nobody gonna sleep here
Tonight, none of you will sleep here.

Then that night, there's a bang in the night
And you yell, "Who's that kickin' up a row?"
And you see me kind'a starin' out the window
And you say, "Whats she got to stare at now?"

And the ship,
The black freighter,
Turns around in the harbour,
Shootin' guns from the bow.

Then you gentlemen can wipe off the laugh from your face,
Every building in town is a flat one.
Your whole stinkin' place will be down to the ground
Only this cheap hotel standin' up safe and sound.
And you ask, "Why did they spare that one?"
And you ask, "Why did they spare that one?"

All night through, with the noise and to-do,
You wonder, "Who's the person lives up there?"
Then you see me steppin' out in the mornin',
Lookin' 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 noon-time the dock
Is all swarmin' with men,
Comin' off from the ghostly freighter.
And they're movin' 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 on the dock.
You can hear the foghorn miles away.
In that quiet of death,
I'll say, "Right now."
And they'll pile up the bodies,
And I'll say, "That'll learn you."

And the ship,
The black freighter,
Disappears out to sea,


( 7 comments — Have your say! )
Jul. 15th, 2006 05:43 am (UTC)
now thats one the doors should have covered!

Jul. 15th, 2006 05:54 am (UTC)
I love that song. Thank you. :)
Jul. 15th, 2006 08:53 am (UTC)
Have you heard Steeleye Span's cover of this, Maddy Prior singing? Wonderful.
Jul. 15th, 2006 11:09 am (UTC)
Alas, it doesn't seem to be on YouTube, which I'm using now to listen to songs I'm curious about.
Jul. 15th, 2006 11:32 am (UTC)
And don't forget Marc Almond's version, if you never heard it, you should :-)
Jul. 15th, 2006 01:08 pm (UTC)
The second or so time I saw the Dresden Dolls play they did "Pirate Jenny" and it made me sad that no one else seemed to know it. Ahhh Brecht.
Jul. 15th, 2006 02:25 pm (UTC)
The first time I heard this, I was about fourteen and we were in the middle of some conversation when my mother said, "You've never heard Lotte Lenya?" She got out her record of The Threepenny Opera, the original Broadway cast, Marc Blitzstein's translation, and she put "Pirate Jenny" on for me. It terrified me and I couldn't stop listening. And now I love it. Nina Simone's version is also wild and chilling.
( 7 comments — Have your say! )