The time(s) Disney changed the lyrics to the Pirates of the Carribean theme song

Updates:

  • Added Google screen shot for ”stand up me hearties yo ho” version.
  • Added YouTube video of that version.
  • Updated title. Will there be more versions found?

ADVISORY: This article uses the ”r“ word, mostly so search engines can find it in case anyone else stumbles upon this topic.

While researching something completely unrelated, I ended up exploring some old internet newsgroup messages. (You see, kids, before there was a World Wide Web, Disney fans used text and things called ”news groups” to communicate with each other.)

I stumbled across a 1997 posting about the breaking news that Disneyland was going to be changing Pirates of the Caribbean. This was followed by a comment wondering if they were going to remove the word ”rape” from the Yo Ho theme song, too. As a kid who visited Disneyland and Magic Kingdom in the 1970s, I also grew up thinking there was a line in that song that used that word. As an adult, I had assumed Disney must have edited out that inappropriate verse.

It wasn’t until years later when fans had access to full source audio and scans of he original sheet music that we could confirm that there never was such a line in the original song. All such memories were false. Seeing others, back in the mid-1990s, make references to it let me know that at least I wasn’t alone in mishearing a song lyric.

But I digress.

In that discussion, someone pointed out that this word never appeared in the theme song, but that Disney had removed ”drink up me hearties, yo ho!” from a CD release of the theme song.

Some quick research led me to the album: Music From the Parks, 1996. I had this album on cassette. It contained remakes of Disney theme park songs done by other artists. Read more about it here:

https://disney.fandom.com/wiki/Disney%27s_Music_from_the_Park

The track listing as as follows:

  • “Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah” – Patti Austin
  • “Yo Ho (A Pirate’s Life for Me)” – The Pointer Sisters
  • “It’s a Small World/When You Wish Upon a Star Medley” – Etta James
  • “The Ballad of Davy Crockett” –  Tim Curry
  • “Grim Grinning Ghosts” – Barenaked Ladies
  • “Hakuna Matata Medley” – The Rembrandts
  • “Circle of Life/Can You Feel the Love Tonight Medley” – Richard Page
  • “SpectroMagic Medley (Instrumental)” – David Benoit
  • “A Dream Is a Wish Your Heart Makes” – Linda Ronstadt
  • “Part of Your World” – Olivia Newton-John
  • “Mickey Mouse March/Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah Medley (Instrumental)” – The Disney Big Band
  • “When You Wish Upon a Star” – Take 6
  • “Remember the Magic (Theme Song) – Brian McKnight
  • “IllumiNations 25” – The Disney Big Band

…and while researching this, I learned there was a bonus track on the CD I never heard. I only had it on cassette. (And still do, somewhere.)

I bought this album specifically because it had remakes of the Haunted Mansion and Pirates of the Caribbean theme songs. About the only other thing on the album that stands out in my mind to this day is the Davy Crocket song sung in Rocky Horror Picture Show style by Tim Curry. It’s quite the hoot! (“Davy …. David, Crocket… King of the …*wild* frontier…”)

I found The Pointer Sister’s version of Yo Ho on YouTube, and sure enough, the song had been re-arranged and omitted ”Drink up me hearties, yo ho”:

Since this was around the same time decisions were being made to alter the ride, it does make me wonder if the changes in these lyrics were done for a similar reason — or maybe they just decided to change the song for artistic reasons, leaving out the one line all of us know even if we cannot remember the versus. (Typing that out now, that would seem to be a very odd decision, if so.)

The original:

Yo ho, yo ho, a pirate’s life for me.
We pillage plunder, we rifle and loot.
Drink up me ‘earties, yo ho.
We kidnap and ravage and don’t give a hoot.
Drink up me ‘earties, yo ho.

The Pointer Sisters version:

Yo ho, yo ho, a pirate’s life for me.
Yo ho, yo YO, a pirate’s life for me.
We pillage plunder, we rifle and loot.
We kidnap and ravage and don’t give a hoot.

The same pattern follows through the rest of the song.

If I ever noticed this at the time, I forgot that I noticed. But I think that I didn’t. At that time, we did not have access to full versions of these soundtracks. I remember being quite happy at discovering one could pull of some audio files from the Walt Disney World Explorer CD-ROM and get some instrumental background snippets that had never been released publicly before.

So, while the R word never appeared in the original song, a Disney remake of the song did alter the lyrics to remove lines about drinking.

The more you know…

Stand up me hearties, yo ho?

And further proving you can’t really trust what a search engine chooses for you as the best possible answer, look at what Google brings up for the lyrics:

Stand up me hearties, yo ho?

There must be some Disney Kids album that has a censored version of the song on it… I guess.

Update: Jonas Brothers, Disney Mania 4. https://youtu.be/ywUujyCsNZE

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