Hoist The Colours

Pirate Ships With Skull Background

We often come across post, videos and the like on social media that grab our attention, soon to follow, of course are all of the rumors, false statements and of course, the bitter fighting about who is right and who is wrong.

In this particular instance, the song “hoist the colours” is combined with short videos showing life on the North Sea, Bering Sea and many other places on this planet where the seas are often violent, causing death to many who dare to tread in her waters.

The song instantly took-off when Bobby Bass on Tik-Tok and YouTube did his own rendition, infusing a deep bass voice, adding the mystic and drama of the video that is attached to it.

Hoist the Colours, sometimes written as Hoist the Colors, was a sea shanty known by all pirates across the Seven Seas. The song was related to the action of hoisting of a pirate’s flag, though it was mainly used as a call to arms for the members of the Brethren Court.

The song was inspired by an urban legend about the nursery rhyme “Sing a Song of Sixpence” originating as a coded message used by Blackbeard and his associates to recruit crew members for their voyages.

“A dangerous song to be singing….for any who are ignorant of its meaning.”
―Tai Huang to Elizabeth Swann

The song Hoist the Colours told the tale of the binding of Calypso by the Pirate King and the First Brethren Court. It was also used as the method of summoning the Court to stand together in the pirates’ most dire need. It was sent forth by Hector Barbossa, who intended to unite the Pirate Lords and release Calypso from her form of flesh.

“The song has been sung. The time is upon us. We must convene the Brethren Court.”
―Hector Barbossa to Sao Feng

The song was sung by assembled men and women prisoners sentenced for execution by the East India Trading Company at Fort Charles in Port Royal, after a cabin boy, facing the gallows, began singing the song while holding a piece of eight. The entire assembly soon took up the cue. The song was connected to the nine pieces of eight. Once the crowd had sung, the nine coins begin resonating. Sao Feng heard the resonance in a coin given to him by Hector Barbossa in Singapore, and the entire members of the Fourth Brethren Court united at Shipwreck Cove because of it.

The lyrics were written by Pirates screenwriters Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio, with the assistance of director Gore Verbinski. Sung in the beginning of At World’s End, the song was referenced in a couple of ways, every one of the verses told the story of Davy Jones and Calypso; starting with “the king and his men stole the queen from her bed,” the song also relayed the First Brethren Court.

The main title of the song is controversial, in which either “colors” or “colours” were used. In the At World’s End soundtrack and various other material, “colours” is used. While in the original song lyrics and the subtitles to the film itself, had the term written as “colors.”

The song was inspired by the Snopes legend, claiming that the children’s nursery rhyme “Sing a Song of Sixpence” was used by confederates of the notorious pirate Blackbeard as a coded reference to recruit crew members. Although the information from Snopes itself is false, Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio liked the idea enough to create Hoist the Colors, basing it on the fake legend.

In the Calypso’s Fury draft of the At World’s End screenplay, after Elizabeth Swann says “hoist the colours” to the crew, one begins to sing softly “Yo ho, all hands, hoist the colours high.” And after Elizabeth shouts across to Tai Huang, leading all the collected pirate ships to raise their flags. The ships surge forward as crew members start to sing, their voices rising together in triumph.

In the first screenplay draft of At World’s End, Elizabeth Swann sings the sea shanty Blow the Man Down in Singapore, instead of Hoist the Colors.