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Origin: Bells of Rhymney (Idris Davies/Pete Seeger

DigiTrad:
BELLS OF RHYMNEY
ORANGES AND LEMONS
ORANGES AND LEMONS 2


Related threads:
Bells of Rhymney - guitar technique (25)
Bells of Rhymney - BBC, 12 June 2007 (38)
Bells of Rhymny (13)


Derek Woolley 02 Apr 99 - 05:48 PM
Dr John 03 Apr 99 - 10:36 AM
Derek Woolley 03 Apr 99 - 04:37 PM
murray@mpce.mq.edu.au 03 Apr 99 - 07:56 PM
Dr John 04 Apr 99 - 08:15 AM
Bev and Jerry 04 Apr 99 - 09:39 PM
murray@mpce.mq.edu.au 04 Apr 99 - 10:09 PM
Tim Jaques tjaques@netcom.ca 02 May 99 - 07:54 PM
Pete peterson 03 May 99 - 10:40 AM
Steve Parkes 04 May 99 - 04:53 AM
skw@worldmusic.de 04 May 99 - 03:45 PM
bseed(charleskratz) 04 May 99 - 11:18 PM
Murray on Saltspring 05 May 99 - 02:38 AM
Steve Parkes 05 May 99 - 03:29 AM
GUEST,Kevin Morgan 08 Nov 01 - 12:15 PM
wildlone 08 Nov 01 - 03:00 PM
Gareth 08 Nov 01 - 04:38 PM
GUEST,Maripryssmith@aol.com 28 May 02 - 05:19 PM
Joe_F 28 May 02 - 06:11 PM
Suffet 28 May 02 - 08:51 PM
Nigel Parsons 29 May 02 - 04:25 AM
sian, west wales 29 May 02 - 05:02 AM
Nigel Parsons 29 May 02 - 05:12 AM
GUEST,jduran2@cox.net 15 Oct 02 - 11:14 PM
Art Thieme 16 Oct 02 - 12:38 AM
Joe Offer 25 Nov 03 - 01:59 AM
Bill D 25 Nov 03 - 05:28 PM
Gareth 25 Nov 03 - 07:21 PM
GUEST,celtaddict at work 26 Nov 03 - 06:14 AM
Chris in Wheaton 26 Nov 03 - 12:03 PM
GUEST,anthony 21 Dec 03 - 05:17 PM
Peace 21 Dec 03 - 05:28 PM
GUEST,madwaff 21 Dec 03 - 07:15 PM
GUEST,skipy 22 Dec 03 - 12:51 PM
GUEST,cindy 02 Mar 04 - 10:17 PM
GUEST,sian 10 Oct 04 - 12:27 PM
GUEST,penmorris@tiscali.co.uk 13 Oct 04 - 06:15 PM
GUEST 13 Oct 04 - 07:09 PM
Paragon 01 Nov 04 - 09:19 PM
Splott Man 02 Nov 04 - 03:37 AM
Snuffy 02 Nov 04 - 08:51 AM
DaveA 02 Nov 04 - 04:13 PM
Flash Company 03 Nov 04 - 11:46 AM
GUEST,Gareth Owen 21 Apr 06 - 10:20 PM
Emma B 22 Apr 06 - 06:02 AM
Bunnahabhain 22 Apr 06 - 11:58 AM
GUEST,ifor 22 Apr 06 - 05:06 PM
GUEST,Texas Guest 22 Apr 06 - 11:25 PM
number 6 23 Apr 06 - 12:15 AM
GUEST,Dr Price 23 Apr 06 - 07:47 AM
breezy 23 Apr 06 - 09:09 AM
GUEST,peter 26 Jul 07 - 02:56 PM
goatfell 27 Jul 07 - 11:15 AM
Scooby Doo 27 Jul 07 - 11:18 AM
SINSULL 27 Jul 07 - 12:11 PM
Bill D 27 Jul 07 - 01:21 PM
Llanfair 31 Aug 07 - 03:20 PM
GUEST,pen morris 13 Sep 07 - 05:33 PM
Bryn Pugh 14 Sep 07 - 11:20 AM
Splott Man 14 Sep 07 - 11:26 AM
Bryn Pugh 20 Sep 07 - 08:54 AM
GUEST,Tippy tin 20 Sep 07 - 09:16 AM
GUEST,old girl 1 20 Sep 07 - 11:14 AM
GUEST,Margo 19 Dec 07 - 08:21 PM
Lonesome EJ 19 Dec 07 - 09:15 PM
David C. Carter 20 Dec 07 - 04:48 AM
Uncle_DaveO 20 Dec 07 - 09:46 AM
Fidjit 21 Dec 07 - 04:10 AM
Lonesome EJ 25 Oct 08 - 02:10 PM
SussexCarole 25 Oct 08 - 06:35 PM
Susanne (skw) 26 Oct 08 - 07:55 PM
GUEST,RussRhymney 10 Dec 08 - 05:16 PM
GUEST,another byrds fan 23 Dec 08 - 09:30 PM
GUEST 12 May 10 - 03:17 PM
GUEST,Jim Clark poetryreincarnation youtube channe 13 Sep 11 - 02:00 AM
GUEST,Don Wise 13 Sep 11 - 02:19 PM
GUEST,Don Wise 14 Sep 11 - 10:38 AM
Chris in Portland 15 Sep 11 - 10:15 AM
Splott Man 16 Sep 11 - 04:09 AM
GUEST 02 May 13 - 08:39 PM
GUEST,Lavengro 03 May 13 - 08:56 AM
GUEST,Eddie1 04 May 13 - 03:47 AM
Airymouse 04 May 13 - 03:58 PM
GUEST,deb in ny 08 Jan 14 - 04:28 AM
GUEST,jim bainbridge 08 Jan 14 - 05:45 AM
GUEST 08 Jan 14 - 01:10 PM
eddie1 09 Jan 14 - 05:29 AM
Eldergirl 09 Jan 14 - 09:23 AM
Joe Offer 24 Mar 15 - 03:47 PM
FreddyHeadey 24 Mar 15 - 05:22 PM
Joe Offer 24 Mar 15 - 05:32 PM
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Subject: Bells of Rhymney
From: Derek Woolley
Date: 02 Apr 99 - 05:48 PM

Hi, can anyone shed light on what was the inspiration for this song? Was it the Aberfan disaster or the decline of the mining industry in wales? Thanks Derek Woolley


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Subject: RE: Bells of Rhymney
From: Dr John
Date: 03 Apr 99 - 10:36 AM

No, earlier than both these. Pete Seeger says in the book of the same title: "Idris Davies, a coal miner in South Wales, was a friend of Dylan Thomas. I came across this poem reprinted in one of Thomas's essays. After the failure of the general strike of 1926, Idris Davies determined to leave coal mining. He studied nights for four years, and finally passed his examinations to Nottingham University. After graduation he became a school teacher in London and published three slim volumes of poetry. "Rhymney is a typical mining town: one hundred yards wide and two miles long..." The music to this poem is by Pete Seeger. His description of a Welsh mining town is spot on, by the way.


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Subject: RE: Bells of Rhymney
From: Derek Woolley
Date: 03 Apr 99 - 04:37 PM

Many Thanks Dr John, I'll try and find the book.

Only been to a Welsh mining town once, Can't remeber too much apart from being intoduced to Brains S.A.

Derek


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Subject: RE: Bells of Rhymney
From: murray@mpce.mq.edu.au
Date: 03 Apr 99 - 07:56 PM

I thought there was a song/nursery rhyme to the same tune called "The Bells" or something like that. It starts:

Oranges and Lemmons, say the bells of St. Clemments.

and that "Bells of Rhymney" was a parody of that with socio/political content.

Murray


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Subject: Lyr Add: ORANGES AND LEMONS
From: Dr John
Date: 04 Apr 99 - 08:15 AM

Yes, the poem then song is based on that - converstion between the bells of various London churches and other places. It was a playground game, now mostly gone. The "chopper" caught the child who arrived under the arch made by two children at the last line. It's called "Oranges and Lemons":-
Gay go up and gay go down,
To ring the bells of London Town.
"Bull's eyes and targets", say the bells of St. Margarets.
"Brickbats and tiles", say the bells of St Giles.
"Oranges and Lemons", says the bells of St Clements.
"Pancakes and fritters," say the bells of St Peters
"Two sticks and an apple," say the bells at Whitechaple.
"Old Father Baldplate", say the slow bells at Aldgate.
"Maids in white aprons," say the bells of St Catherine's.
"Pokers and tongs," say the bells at St John's.
"Kettles and pans," say the bells at St Anne's.
"You owe me five far'things," say the bells at St Martin's
"When will you pay me", say the bells at Old Bailey.
"When I grow rich", say the bells at Shoreditch.
"When will that be," sat the bells at Stepney.
"I'm sure I don't know", says the great bell at Bow.
Here comes a candle to light you to bed,
Here comes a chopper to chop off your head!


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Subject: RE: Bells of Rhymney
From: Bev and Jerry
Date: 04 Apr 99 - 09:39 PM

Derek

After you're introduced to Brains S.A. you ususally don't remember much. We were told that S.A. stands for Skull Attack.


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Subject: RE: Bells of Rhymney
From: murray@mpce.mq.edu.au
Date: 04 Apr 99 - 10:09 PM

Thanks Dr. John. After I made my posting, I began to try to recall the rest of the rhyme, and you have probably saved me a night's sleep. I forgot the "chopper" part was from that game.

Murray


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Subject: RE: Bells of Rhymney
From: Tim Jaques tjaques@netcom.ca
Date: 02 May 99 - 07:54 PM

There was a thread on this earlier.


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Subject: RE: Bells of Rhymney
From: Pete peterson
Date: 03 May 99 - 10:40 AM

I have loved Bells of Rhymney for just about 40 years now having first heard it on Pete Seeger's Folkways record-- his 1957 Carnegie Hall concert with Sonny Terry. He re-recorded it on Vanguard's Folk Music at Newport 1959, volume 1 and had greatly complicated the guitar accompaniment. A friend of mine, knowing my fascination with the song, once travelled all through Wales (he had traveled through Britain and most parts of Wales) sendine me postcards from each of the towns. . . does anyone besides me make the connection with 1984 and Winston Smith's befuddled attempt to remember the first four lines of the Oranges and Lemons rhyme? PETE


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Subject: RE: Bells of Rhymney
From: Steve Parkes
Date: 04 May 99 - 04:53 AM

Is it "Rimney" or "Rumney"? They talk funny in South Wales. As compared with North Wales, that is ...

Steve


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Subject: RE: Bells of Rhymney
From: skw@worldmusic.de
Date: 04 May 99 - 03:45 PM

Steve, do you mean the pronunciation? It's closer to 'Rumney', with an open u (sort of Scottish ...). - Susanne


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Subject: RE: Bells of Rhymney
From: bseed(charleskratz)
Date: 04 May 99 - 11:18 PM

Here Comes a Candle was the title of a horror novel by Fredrik Brown--a serial murder, traumatized by an experience linked to that song--chops off the heads of a few people. I must have read it at least 40 years ago, and I don't remember much more about it. --seed


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Subject: RE: Bells of Rhymney
From: Murray on Saltspring
Date: 05 May 99 - 02:38 AM

Susanne is right--Welsh Y in other than final syllables is pronounced like a short U, as in "rum", rather than as in -- what, the last sound of "rummy" maybe.


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Subject: RE: Bells of Rhymney
From: Steve Parkes
Date: 05 May 99 - 03:29 AM

I can pronounce North Welsh words reasonably well (I think!), but I know there are differences in South Wales (and Argentina!) but I don't know what they are, since I've not spent much time down there. Maybe we can start a new thread in Welsh lessons?

The "Oranges and Lemons" rhyme is a bit different from the "classical" version I learned as a kid. I've never come across another version before.

Steve


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Subject: RE: Bells of Rhymney
From: GUEST,Kevin Morgan
Date: 08 Nov 01 - 12:15 PM

Wow! A discussion on the net about Rhymney? Oh my God, I've lived here all my life (just 1 mile away in a neighbouring village)... and yeah, the pronunciation is rum-knee.

I'm having trouble figuring out why people visit this place! It's... boring and there's nothing to see or do!

Anyway... take care all,

Kevin Morgan


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Subject: RE: Bells of Rhymney
From: wildlone
Date: 08 Nov 01 - 03:00 PM

I have been to Rhymney in my travels, very little has changed except the pits are now gone.
BTW Wales has some of the best biking roads in the UK.
dave


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Subject: RE: Bells of Rhymney
From: Gareth
Date: 08 Nov 01 - 04:38 PM

oh I don't know, Kevin, not many people can say they visited Sodom and Gomorrah, bowdlerised by the Rhymney Railway into Pontlottyn (Tr Lotts Bridge)

Gareth from Ystrad Mynach


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Subject: RE: Bells of Rhymney
From: GUEST,Maripryssmith@aol.com
Date: 28 May 02 - 05:19 PM

Hi everybody Interesting to hear about what you've all got to say about Rymni (the proper Welsh speaking way of writing it). I stumbled on this conversation on the web one drunken night when my husband and I were having an argument about the rock group 'The Alarm' They sing on a b-side cd 'The bells of Rhymney' (eventhough it sounds like Rimni) and didn't know who wrote it. So, I decided to come on the web to find out and I was right - it was Idris Davies.

Kevin Morgan - is it that bad there ? coz the song is about the crime that was in South Wales during the industrial revolution - maybe it's still there !!

Rymni fo am byth Mari XXX


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Subject: RE: Bells of Rhymney
From: Joe_F
Date: 28 May 02 - 06:11 PM

"Oranges & Lemons" is in the database (somewhat corrupted) & in quite a number of threads.


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Subject: The Bells of Kabul
From: Suffet
Date: 28 May 02 - 08:51 PM

THE BELLS OF KABUL

Tune: The Bells of Rhymney by Pete Seeger (words by Idris Davies)

New words: Stephen L. Suffet (with some encouragement and constructive criticism from Pete Seeger) © 2002

"Twenty years of Hell!"
Cry the sad bells of Kabul.

"Oppression and war!"
Scream the bells of Kanduhar.

"Did we win? Did we lose?"
Ask the broken bells of Kanduz.

"May God grant us peace,"
Pray the bells of Mazar-i-Shareef.

[Repeat last couplet ad lib.]


If all goes according to plan, these lyrics should appear in Pete's next edition of Where Have All the Flowers Gone?

--- Steve


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Subject: RE: Bells of Rhymney
From: Nigel Parsons
Date: 29 May 02 - 04:25 AM

Maripryssmith: Surely the 'welshified' spelling should be Rhymni as the initial letter is Rh. Of course, this would seldom be heard in Welsh, even amongst fluent speakers, because the name is often subjected to the soft mutation, which drops the h, making your version right, but only in those contexts. Using a Welsh name in an English language song it is difficult to justify the mutation.

Hwyl dda (Cheers) Nigel


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Subject: RE: Bells of Rhymney
From: sian, west wales
Date: 29 May 02 - 05:02 AM

Yeh, I thought Rh would be the correct spelling, except I wouldn't call it Welshified as it would be the original. Anything else would be Anglicized. Also, it wouldn't undergo the soft mutation all that often because Rh and Ll are exceptions to a lot of the mutation rules.

I actually do pronounce the 'h' in both speech and in song... sort of a soft flutter of the R just behind the front teeth.

sian


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Subject: RE: Bells of Rhymney
From: Nigel Parsons
Date: 29 May 02 - 05:12 AM

sian,west wales: yes Ll & Rh are exceptions to many of the mutation rules, but not the soft mutation.
Soft mutation affects C, P, T, G, B, D, Ll, M, & Rh
Nasal affects C, P, T, G, B, D,
Aspirate affect C, P, T.
It is the lack of the other two mutations which makes Ll & Rh appear to be exceptions.
I used the term "Welshified" because I don't know of any original Welsh place name of Rhymney, (as in the valleys,) or Rumney as a part of Cardiff. If they are invented place names then providing 'Welsh' spellings is the equivalent to providing English spellings of genuine Welsh placenames.

Nigel


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Subject: RE: Bells of Rhymney
From: GUEST,jduran2@cox.net
Date: 15 Oct 02 - 11:14 PM

does any one know wherei can download this song? I heard it the other day and fell in love with it! PLEASE e-mail me.
                                                 JDURAN2@COX.NET


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Subject: RE: Bells of Rhymney
From: Art Thieme
Date: 16 Oct 02 - 12:38 AM

When I was much younger, no older than 18 or 20, I heard Pete do this fine song. It hit me like a ton of bricks. I had never heard anything to compare with it. This song opened my eyes and my brain and my heart to all the wonder and information that can be crammed into a song. There is so much there---both said and inferred. Every line of the song tickled nerves that create vivid pictures on that most sensitive of all photographic emulsions---the human mind. I would lay awake and fantasize about doing this song myself and adding spoken dialogue that would be based on all the brilliant(?) insights I'd gleaned from the words (I hoped). These, of course, were only adolescent mental meanderings, but they set the stage for what I would wind up doing on stage for all the time I was a folksinger----rambling from song to song, never the same order or message twice, and bringing in bits of folklore and jokelore, tall tales and short tales that, hopefully, went toward making the songs and ballads I cared so much about a bit more accessable to people who might've been 300 years removed from the events taking place in the songs. And Pete Seeger continued to provide his great examples for me for a half century. But this was the song that grabbed my by the scruff of the neck and pointed the way. I will forever be grateful.

Art Thieme


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Subject: DTCorr: Bells of Rhymney
From: Joe Offer
Date: 25 Nov 03 - 01:59 AM

There is a rather noticeable mistake in the middle of the DT lyrics for "Bells of Rhymney." Here is the corrected text I submitted to the Digital Tradition. Did I make any mistakes?

BELLS OF RHYMNEY
(Idris Davies & Pete Seeger)

Oh what will you give me?
Say the sad bells of Rhymney
Is there hope for the future?
Cry the brown bells of Merthyr.
Who made the mine owner?
Say the black bells of Rhondda.
And who robbed the miner?
Cry the grim bells of Blaina.

They will plunder willy-nilly,
Cry the bells of Caerphilly.
They have fangs, they have teeth,
Say the loud bells of Neath.
Even God is uneasy,
Say the moist bells of Swansea.
And what will you give me?
Say the sad bells of Rhymney

Put the vandals in court
Say the bells of Newport.
All would be well if, if, if,
Cry the green bells of Cardiff.
Why so worried, sisters, why?
Sang the silver bells of Wye.
And what will you give me?
Say the sad bells of Rhymney.


Lyrics from "Gwalia Deserta" by Welsh poet Idris Davies, who lived in Tonypandy in the Rhondda Valley the heart of the coalfields of South Wales. The poem was written in about 1927, and published in 1938. Tune by Pete Seeger, 1959.
Copyright Ludlow Music, 1959.

Source: "Where Have All the Flowers Gone?" - a book by Pete Seeger.

@Welsh
recorded by Ian Campbell Folk Group
filename[ BELLRHYM
TUNE FILE: BELLRHYM
CLICK TO PLAY
SOF


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Subject: RE: Bells of Rhymney
From: Bill D
Date: 25 Nov 03 - 05:28 PM

wow...the tune was only from 1959? I heard it on record in about '61, and heard Pete do it live in 61 or 62! An amazing song...and my introduction to WHY guys work so hard to play a 12 string guitar! Brings back memories...

(reads ok to me, Joe)


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Subject: RE: Bells of Rhymney
From: Gareth
Date: 25 Nov 03 - 07:21 PM

No Joe - Seems OK !

And as a thought - The traditional 'Toast' of the old South Wales Miners Federation was this -

"To the day the last man left the last pit on the end of the last shift"

Don't pray to hard, you may get what you pray for.

Gareth - from Ystrad Mynach in the Rhymney Valley

Caerphilly 5 miles to the South
Rhymney, Dowlais, and Merthyr Tydfil about 12 miles to the north.

And Aberfan, well, just over the hill.


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Subject: RE: Bells of Rhymney
From: GUEST,celtaddict at work
Date: 26 Nov 03 - 06:14 AM

When Mainbrace were in the U.S. they sang "The Bells of Rhymney" (which they pronounced "rumney" naturally, and paired with "The Old Miner" quite effectively) and at one concert a woman who had lived in Wales commented that she had not heard it for years and now that she had lived there the words meant more to her, for example, the "why so worried, sister, why?" reflected the fact that Wye is so near the English border that it was less affected. I would be very interested in knowing the sociopolitical background of Davies' poem in general and the specific comments linked to specific places in particular.


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Subject: RE: Bells of Rhymney
From: Chris in Wheaton
Date: 26 Nov 03 - 12:03 PM

While we're at it, does anyone have the Welsh words for the great Canadian song about the mines, A Working Man (google on "it's a working man, I am" for the English lyrics)?
Diolch a dwirnod twrci hapus - wel, yn ol i yr pwllau, Chris in Wheaton (dwi'n dysgu Cymraeg!)


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Subject: RE: Bells of Rhymney
From: GUEST,anthony
Date: 21 Dec 03 - 05:17 PM

You can hear the song and see an evocative video showing scenes of the mining industry in Wales at http://www.worldwidewales.tv/index2.php?mid=168


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Subject: RE: Bells of Rhymney
From: Peace
Date: 21 Dec 03 - 05:28 PM

I first heard the song in a basket house in New York. It was remarkable. The fellow who performed it played a seven-stringed guitar (the treble E was doubled--he had seven tuning pegs) and it blew me away. It still remains a wonderful song. I didn't hear it again until Pete Seeger's "We Shall Overcome" concert at Carnegie Hall (the record).

My grandfather had been a coal miner, and the stories he told me in my youth came back to me--just like the dam had broken. Wow!

Thanks for this reminder.


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Subject: RE: Bells of Rhymney
From: GUEST,madwaff
Date: 21 Dec 03 - 07:15 PM

First heard this song done by the late John Denver, probably in the 70's. More recent, and vitriolic, version I've heard is by Oysterband - really hits a political message about the pit closures and Thatcherism (not that this is that new any more!)

plus ca change!

madwaff


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Subject: RE: Bells of Rhymney
From: GUEST,skipy
Date: 22 Dec 03 - 12:51 PM

Derek

If you do want a copy of the book, there are several avilable on ABE.

Just type "ABE" and then type "idris davies" in the slot marked author.
The cheapest is £1.99 + p&p

Regards skipy


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Subject: RE: Bells of Rhymney
From: GUEST,cindy
Date: 02 Mar 04 - 10:17 PM

thank you for the video clip about the song, The bells of Rhymney.It is so beautiful and typical of the coal miners all over the world.


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Subject: RE: Bells of Rhymney
From: GUEST,sian
Date: 10 Oct 04 - 12:27 PM

i do think this is just a parody of orages and lemons as durin the mining era in wales it was the chapels an not the churches that were rife therefore why would miners be singing of the norman churches that most of them would have bycotted anyway


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Subject: RE: Bells of Rhymney
From: GUEST,penmorris@tiscali.co.uk
Date: 13 Oct 04 - 06:15 PM

Has anyone been able to find a recording of John Denver singing 'Sad Bells of Rhymney' I am from Rhymney and I saw him live in Cardiff twice, where he sang the song both times. As the Church which is known as St., Davids or the 'Top Church' is where I was christened, confirmed, and married, I would love a recording of JD singing this poem.
Gail Morris
Penpedairheol


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Subject: RE: Bells of Rhymney
From: GUEST
Date: 13 Oct 04 - 07:09 PM

Idris Davies is a very interesting chap and as important to the cultural history of s Wales as Pete Seeger is to the US(!) Idris Davies never lived in Tonypandy. He was born to a Welsh speaking family in Rhymney, grew up speaking Welsh and trained as a teacher before moving to England. He was mainly self taught. He was a real poet of the deacy and social breakdown of s Wales in the 1920s and 30s, a naion which having already lost the Welsh language then lost the coal industry. As to the bells themselves the bells of Brecon and Wye are off the s Wales coalfield, which meant that they could be happy without the mass unemployment endured by the coalfield to the south. Neath is in the anthracite coalfield of s Wales, which didn't experience the depression of the 20s and 30s so severely. Caerphilly is just off the coalfield. Many miners from Merthyr and Rhymney traveled to pits in the Neath valley at that time. At this time the British government was talking of closing down Merthyr and transporting the people to England- hence the brown bells. This is not a 'song' by miners this is a poem by a great poet who happened to be a miner that expressess a great biterness and hurt.The poem was borrowed by an American singer. Nothing wrong with that. Around here 'Rhymney' is pronounced as it looks with the 'y' long.


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Subject: RE: Bells of Rhymney
From: Paragon
Date: 01 Nov 04 - 09:19 PM

Has anyone been able to find a recording of John Denver singing 'Sad Bells of Rhymney' I am from Rhymney and I saw him live in Cardiff twice, where he sang the song both times. As the Church which is known as St., Davids or the 'Top Church' is where I was christened, confirmed, and married, I would love a recording of JD singing this poem.
Gail Morris
Penpedairheol

----------------------------------------------------------------


John Denver recorded Bells of Rhymney with the Mitchell Trio in about 1966 just before Peter Paul & Mary recorded 'Leaving on a Jet Plane' and 'For Bobbi'. You'll find John's first acoustic 12-string rendition of Bells of Rhymney on the 'Violets of the Dawn' album by the Mitchell Trio (this album was recorded shortly after John replaced Chad Mitchell.)

This sure is an interesting thread. Thank you all.

Edward
Minnesota, USA


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Subject: RE: Bells of Rhymney
From: Splott Man
Date: 02 Nov 04 - 03:37 AM

Although the chapel was and is predominant in the valleys, the Church in Wales (Anglican) has a presence in most communities, and indeed, the Catholic Church has a strong presence, particularly in Cardiff and the immediate surroundings, where there was a lot of Irish immigration during the boom years.

Chapels can have bells too.

Splott Man


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Subject: RE: Bells of Rhymney
From: Snuffy
Date: 02 Nov 04 - 08:51 AM

You are right there, Ned

"But hark! I hear the chapel bells. They'll all be open now" Ali Baba's Camel, by Bonzo Dog Doodah Band


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Subject: RE: Bells of Rhymney
From: DaveA
Date: 02 Nov 04 - 04:13 PM

Regarding the John Denver version, I'm not sure if it was on "That's the Way It's Gonna Be" rather than "Violets of Dawn". However, Kelcoo Music in the UK have released a CD with BOTH these excellent Mitchell Trio LPs amalgamated (24 tracks), including his great version of Mr Tambourine Man.
The complete link thru to Kelcoo & this CD is:
http://www.kelkoo.co.uk/b/a/cpc_150701_ps_6951480_gs_15811229.html
Hope this helps

Dave


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Subject: RE: Bells of Rhymney
From: Flash Company
Date: 03 Nov 04 - 11:46 AM

Heard Pete Seeger sing this in The Free Trade Hall, Manchester on his first UK visit after his spell in the McCarthyite slammer. I loved it, but really you can only do it with a 12-stringer. No use to unaccompanied guys like me!

FC


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Subject: RE: Bells of Rhymney
From: GUEST,Gareth Owen
Date: 21 Apr 06 - 10:20 PM

I am actually a Rhymney resident, born and bred here and also my whole family. I am a distant realtive of Idris Davies. There is a strong sense of pride and passion for the great man here in our town. The place itself, as some have queried, is atypical of any post industrial town in the South Wales valleys, once proud traditional towns morally and socially corrupt throughout the years by poverty and desperation! Sorry to paint such a grim picture but I only speak the truth. The good sense of community still thrives though and a lot of good, voluntary work is done in the community. It is set in the most beautiful rugged scenery you could imagine and we take the neighbouring mountains for granted really.

If you are interested in Idris Davies work then do a google search and try to find a book of poems released by him, through the legendary T.S Elliot.

'RUM KNEE' Is the pronounciation too! ;)


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Subject: RE: Bells of Rhymney
From: Emma B
Date: 22 Apr 06 - 06:02 AM

I've not heard this wonderful sung version of the Idris Davies poem for many years but driving down the Wye valley and the Vale of Neath on the way to the Gower Wedding a fortnight ago the road signs brought the powerfully emotive words back and I found myself singing in the car.
A song well worth "resurrecting"


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Subject: RE: Bells of Rhymney
From: Bunnahabhain
Date: 22 Apr 06 - 11:58 AM

As noted above, the Oyster bands version of this has some real fire and venom behind it. They are rather good at political and protest songs.


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Subject: RE: Bells of Rhymney
From: GUEST,ifor
Date: 22 Apr 06 - 05:06 PM

What a great writer was Idris Dvies...the bard of Rhymney. I am pretty sure that he was a schoolteacher who died quite young.
His collection of poems Gwalia Deserta is a tragic account of the destruction caused to the welsh mining valleys as poverty and unemployment hit home in the 1920s and 1930s and the young people of the valleys were forced to move to London and elsewhere to look for work.
As a young teenager I could barely beieve my ears when I realised that the Byrds were singing about my home town of Neath.Of course Roger McGuinn being a folkie himself would have known the Pete Seegar version of this wonderful song.
Ifor


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Subject: RE: Bells of Rhymney
From: GUEST,Texas Guest
Date: 22 Apr 06 - 11:25 PM

No doubt in my mind - The Byrds version of "The Bells" is the one that makes my heart sing. McGuinn's "jingle-jangle" Ric 12-string just created a wonderful bed for their moving vocals to soar upon.
I simply loved the Byrds, then and now. Cheers.


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Subject: RE: Bells of Rhymney
From: number 6
Date: 23 Apr 06 - 12:15 AM

I with you on the Byrd's version Texas Guest.

sIx


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Subject: RE: Bells of Rhymney
From: GUEST,Dr Price
Date: 23 Apr 06 - 07:47 AM

Gwalia Deserta was a cycle of poems about the Depression, and the bitterness and hopelessness it engendered; The Bells Of Rhymney was a part of that.

But Idris Davies shall be remembered for his incisiveness of his poems and his love for the Valleys of South Wales. On their album "Songs And Tunes From South Wales", Calennig recorded the poem "When April Came To Rhymney":

When April came to Rhymney
In shower and sun and shower
The green hills and the brown hills
Could sport some happy flower
And sweet it was to fancy
That even the blackest mound
Was proud of its single daisy
Rooted in bitter ground.

And old men would remember
and young men would be vain
and the hawthorn by the pithead
Would blossom in the rain
and the blackest streets of evening
They had their magic hour
When April came to Rhymney
In shower and sun and shower.


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Subject: RE: Bells of Rhymney
From: breezy
Date: 23 Apr 06 - 09:09 AM

Chris Flegg features it occasionally.

Winward Folk Club Sundays in St Albans, club re-opens Sun 7th may at the Comfort Hotel

it was Pete Seeger on Sunday night at the London Palladium where I first heard it


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Subject: RE: Bells of Rhymney
From: GUEST,peter
Date: 26 Jul 07 - 02:56 PM

Entirely too cool. My curiosity in the bells is from the Emmylou Harris song "Goin Back to Harlan".
Frail my heart apart
and play me a little Shady Grove
Ring the bells of rhymney
till they ring inside my head forever
Bounce the bow. Rock the gallows
For the hangmans reel
And wake the devil from his dream.
This song is so spiritual that I have to be all alone to listen to it.


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Subject: RE: Bells of Rhymney
From: goatfell
Date: 27 Jul 07 - 11:15 AM

I love Wales, I just think it's a quite place, and I jsut can't stand busy places at all.

Tom
From Scotland


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Subject: RE: Bells of Rhymney
From: Scooby Doo
Date: 27 Jul 07 - 11:18 AM

I have lived in Wales for 24 years and i love Scotland.I have to have a holiday up there at least once a year.

Scooby
From Wales.


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Subject: RE: Bells of Rhymney
From: SINSULL
Date: 27 Jul 07 - 12:11 PM

John Denver's Bells of Rhymney
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G7OYUqVfnGY


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Subject: RE: Bells of Rhymney
From: Bill D
Date: 27 Jul 07 - 01:21 PM

someone ELSE did The Bells of Rhymney, and lighting did not come down and strike them?....*grin*

I don't think I'll listen to Denver do it...


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Subject: RE: Origin: Bells of Rhymney
From: Llanfair
Date: 31 Aug 07 - 03:20 PM

Oh, I did enjoy that!! I was looking for the words and meandered into this thread. I'm planning on singing it on the market tomorrow.

Welshpool, of course!!!


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Subject: RE: Origin: Bells of Rhymney
From: GUEST,pen morris
Date: 13 Sep 07 - 05:33 PM

wow, I have waited so long to hear him sing this song again. I am from Rhymney, and I was told of a story of when John Denver came to visit the church, St. Davids Church in Rhymney,and my neighbour who was the caretaker of the church, showed him around, probably in the 60s. I must admit that when he sings the song, it sends shivers down my spine. I just love it!
Gail


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Subject: RE: Origin: Bells of Rhymney
From: Bryn Pugh
Date: 14 Sep 07 - 11:20 AM

Peth yw'r enw Gymraeg o "Mudcat" a os welychi'n da ?


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Subject: RE: Origin: Bells of Rhymney
From: Splott Man
Date: 14 Sep 07 - 11:26 AM

Cath llaca?

Cath mwd?

Cath llaid?


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Subject: RE: Origin: Bells of Rhymney
From: Bryn Pugh
Date: 20 Sep 07 - 08:54 AM

Diolch i, dyn Splott, yr wyfi'n hoffi 'cath llaid'. Hwyl fawr, Bryn.


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Subject: RE: Origin: Bells of Rhymney
From: GUEST,Tippy tin
Date: 20 Sep 07 - 09:16 AM

I heard the tune on the MUZAK the other day.


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Subject: RE: Origin: Bells of Rhymney
From: GUEST,old girl 1
Date: 20 Sep 07 - 11:14 AM

I might be giving my age away but when I was in school we had to learn this poem off by heart I do'ent think it was set to music then.
Rose


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Subject: RE: Origin: Bells of Rhymney
From: GUEST,Margo
Date: 19 Dec 07 - 08:21 PM

http://www.welshicons.org.uk/html/rhymney.php


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Subject: RE: Origin: Bells of Rhymney
From: Lonesome EJ
Date: 19 Dec 07 - 09:15 PM

Until I saw him perform it in a You Tube video, I'd never seen or heard Pete's version. Very raw and emotional with its almost arhythmic music accompaniment. The soaring harmonies of the Byrds do seem to give the song a more ethereal and wistful feel. Both great versions, but nearly entirely different songs. The Denver and Alarm versions seem to plow the same turf as the McGuinn one.


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Subject: RE: Origin: Bells of Rhymney
From: David C. Carter
Date: 20 Dec 07 - 04:48 AM

I thought Judy Collins did it on some record or other.Can't remember
which one though.
The only version I have is by Dylan and the Band,on a Basement Tapes cd.Not a great performence,he's just running through stuff.But I listen to it a lot.I always loved that song.


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Subject: RE: Origin: Bells of Rhymney
From: Uncle_DaveO
Date: 20 Dec 07 - 09:46 AM

GUEST,sian said, in part:

i do think this is just a parody of oranges and lemons

Not a parody. A development of a thought, an echo if you will, even a theft of an image, but not a parody. A parody embodies a degree of sarcasm, or a satirical turn which is not present in this moving song.

Dave Oesterreich


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Subject: RE: Origin: Bells of Rhymney
From: Fidjit
Date: 21 Dec 07 - 04:10 AM

Quote Flash Company., but really you can only do it with a 12-stringer.. Unquote:

No! You can do it with six strings too.

Sang it at a gig last Saturday as a tribute to Pete.
Fifty years since it was recorded!!

I have the LP. One of my first.

Chas


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Subject: RE: Origin: Bells of Rhymney
From: Lonesome EJ
Date: 25 Oct 08 - 02:10 PM

Interesting conversation about this song. The consensus seems to be that it is not about a specific event, but about the general decline in the mining industry in Wales in the 20s and 30s. But a few phrases seem particularly to point at particular occurrences.

"Who made the mine owner", "They will plunder willy-nilly", "they have fangs they have teeth" ,"Throw the vandals in court", . Is this anger directed at the owners? The phrases seem to target something more active and aggressive than seeming to express sadness and frustration over mine closings.


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Subject: RE: Origin: Bells of Rhymney
From: SussexCarole
Date: 25 Oct 08 - 06:35 PM

Sadly the bells of Rhymney can no longer be rung 'full circle', and as I understand there is no plan for their restoration. It appears that they would have become unringable soon after Idris Davies had written the poem


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Subject: RE: Origin: Bells of Rhymney
From: Susanne (skw)
Date: 26 Oct 08 - 07:55 PM

EJ, I don't know, but I've always assumed the anger was directed at the mine owners for their treatment of the miners - long on demands, short on pay, safety, honesty etc., as many of the songs about mining disasters seem to prove.


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Subject: RE: Origin: Bells of Rhymney
From: GUEST,RussRhymney
Date: 10 Dec 08 - 05:16 PM

SussexCarole is correct, the Bells of Rhymney can no longer be rung 'full circle', if fact they cannot be rung at all. We just have some of the chimes working. However, we are embarking on a complete restoration programme of St David's Church (the Top Church) where the bells are housed. This restoration will include the 'Bells of Rhymney'. The current estimate for the complete restoration of the church is approaching £750,000, which includes a cost of £50,000 to restore the bells to their former glory. We are currently vigorously fund raising and seek grant assistance to assist with this mammoth task, so all contributions, financial or otherwise, will be greatly appreciated. If you are able to help please contact russ@shurmer-associates.co.uk.


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Subject: RE: Origin: Bells of Rhymney
From: GUEST,another byrds fan
Date: 23 Dec 08 - 09:30 PM

Heard it years ago by Seeger. Loved it. Seemed rougher by him. Heard the Byrds take on it and fell in love all over again. Wish they hadn't omitted the middle verse. Play it every time I pick my Ric 360 12. Its on their first album "The Byrds". Give it a listen.
(Yeah, I know it wasnt their first. But it was their first real album.


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Subject: RE: Origin: Bells of Rhymney
From: GUEST
Date: 12 May 10 - 03:17 PM

Lonesome EJ, only half the phrases are directed towards the coal owners e.g. Who made the mine owner", "They will plunder willy-nilly", "they have fangs they have teeth", over their treatment of the miners during the strike and lockout.

As for the phrase "Throw the vandals in court" this isn't a reference to the coal owners. Because this cry came from Newport an area which suffered less unemployment in the 1920s than the south Wales coalfield, the cry to put the vandals in court refers to the militant miners of 1926, as they were seen as vandals who refused work and created social disturbance. From Swansea onwards Idris Davies is portraying the social unsease felt by the more prosperous areas towards the south Wales miners.


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Subject: RE: Origin: Bells of Rhymney (Idris Davies/Pete Seeger
From: GUEST,Jim Clark poetryreincarnation youtube channe
Date: 13 Sep 11 - 02:00 AM

Its nice seeing the great Idris Davies being mentioned here at Mudcat he wrote such excellent poetry that was steeped in the realities of the struggles of the working classes.

I have recently reincarnated him reading several of his finest poems in several virtual movies at my poetryreincarnations channel @ youtube

Heres a link to The Bells of Rhymney..........

"The Bells of Rhymney" by Idris Davies Poem animation


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Subject: RE: Origin: Bells of Rhymney (Idris Davies/Pete Seeger
From: GUEST,Don Wise
Date: 13 Sep 11 - 02:19 PM

As an aside, "Goin' back to Harlan" (mentioned somewhere above and years ago) was actually composed by Anna McGarrigle.


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Subject: RE: Origin: Bells of Rhymney (Idris Davies/Pete Seeger
From: GUEST,Don Wise
Date: 14 Sep 11 - 10:38 AM

It occurs to me that, in the context of "The Bells of Rhymney", it's probably helpful to remember that Cardiff, Newport and Swansea were all major coal exporting ports at the time Idris Davies was writing. For all three, coal export was 'a very nice little earner', and that any disruption in the coalfield was bound to have a negative influence on their prosperity.

Don


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Subject: RE: Origin: Bells of Rhymney (Idris Davies/Pete Seeger
From: Chris in Portland
Date: 15 Sep 11 - 10:15 AM

Jim, great video, thanks for that. Huw Williams' show on the song was great too. Getting excited about our early November visit to South Wales. Working on my Welsh!
Hope to visit Rhymney (pronounced "Hrrrum-knee," not "Rim-knee")on our driving tour of the Valleys. Did you get those bells going again?
Hoping to see Dewi Pws in Brecon too.
Chris in Portland


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Subject: RE: Origin: Bells of Rhymney (Idris Davies/Pete Seeger
From: Splott Man
Date: 16 Sep 11 - 04:09 AM

Hi Chris in Portland.
If you are visiting south Wales, there are quite a few catters here.
Folk clubs (and catters) can be found in Llantrisant, Newport (2!), Chepstow, Gower and Pontardawe to name a few.

Splott Man


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Subject: RE: Origin: Bells of Rhymney (Idris Davies/Pete Seeger
From: GUEST
Date: 02 May 13 - 08:39 PM

I understand the poem is by Idris Davies and dates to 1926. I further heard that, ironically, the year the poem was published, Wales had no mining disasters. Such events were apparently so very common in those days that that year (1926) without calamity amounted to great, blessed, and all too infrequent, relief.

I heard Seeger found a copy of the Davies poem inserted into the pages of a volume of Dylan Thomas verse.

Its potential appeal to Seeger, who was an ardent socialist, is easy to understand.

Politics aside, though, the poem and the song remain deeply moving.

Who can disagree that, whatever one's own political leanings, we all owe our fellow human beings respect, fairness, and humane consideration, whoever they might be.

A little less cruelty to strangers might make us all (the public at large) less willing to apply our own cruelty (what Seeger refers to as "Fangs and Teeth", our very own venom) to other people.

Everyone of us could do with receiving a little less callous treatment. Let us pay for that relief in advance by applying some kindness to our fellows in the hopes that we can rachet down the world's quotient of sadness.

The song is only about Welsh mining disasters on its most superficial levels. I think it begs for hope that we as humans will work to decrease suffering and increase compassion.

The cost would be small, the benefits great.

My own favorite version of the song is by the Byrds.


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Subject: RE: Origin: Bells of Rhymney (Idris Davies/Pete Seeger
From: GUEST,Lavengro
Date: 03 May 13 - 08:56 AM

In regard to Splott Man's post. Don't forget Rumney folk club. Rumney is run by Elaine and Derek Morgan and is a fantastic club which keeps many of us off the streets ;)

Whitchurch RFC also have a good club which took over from the BBC folk club once run by Frank Hennessy.

And Finally Barry Folk Club at the Glenbrook.


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Subject: RE: Origin: Bells of Rhymney (Idris Davies/Pete Seeger
From: GUEST,Eddie1
Date: 04 May 13 - 03:47 AM

For an example of how a wonderful song can be RUINED, go to Spotify, enter the title and give a (brief) listen to the version by Cher!

Uughh!

Eddie


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Subject: RE: Origin: Bells of Rhymney (Idris Davies/Pete Seeger
From: Airymouse
Date: 04 May 13 - 03:58 PM

I guess I'm mixing up apples and oranges, or maybe lemons. Anyway here in Virginia we sing a song, "King William was King James's son" which ends with "Here comes a light to light you to bed, and here comes a hatchet to chop off your head."


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Subject: RE: Origin: Bells of Rhymney (Idris Davies/Pete Seeger
From: GUEST,deb in ny
Date: 08 Jan 14 - 04:28 AM

Judy Collins has a beautiful version on her Judy Collins 3 recording.


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Subject: RE: Origin: Bells of Rhymney (Idris Davies/Pete Seeger
From: GUEST,jim bainbridge
Date: 08 Jan 14 - 05:45 AM

I first heard the song on an Ian Campbell Five LP in the mid 60s & it made a great impression at the time- it's probably on CD by now.
I was also delighted to find a copy of Idris Davies' poetry in the shop of the Welsh Mining Museum at Blaenavon- that was years ago, but they might still have some copies. Essential reading for all folky lefties, like me


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Subject: RE: Origin: Bells of Rhymney (Idris Davies/Pete Seeger
From: GUEST
Date: 08 Jan 14 - 01:10 PM

Pete seeger coosd an effective 12 string accompaniment tha may be found on jerry silvermans 12 string guitar tutor as piblished by oak


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Subject: RE: Origin: Bells of Rhymney (Idris Davies/Pete Seeger
From: eddie1
Date: 09 Jan 14 - 05:29 AM

I guess my favourite version has to be by Pete Seeger, with nods to The Byrds/Roger McGuinn.
Interesting to have a trip through Spotify, quickly skipping past the version by Cher. Judy Collins does a good job and the six- or twelve-string question is answered by Bob Davenport who does an acapella version - with a tune much closer to the nursery rhyme of my childhood.

Way back, probably my first venture into Mudcat, I answered a query about Len Partridge from Edinburgh. The late, great Hamish Henderson once introduced Len to Pete with the words, "This is Len, he can play "The Bells of Rhymney" better than you."!

Eddie


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Subject: RE: Origin: Bells of Rhymney (Idris Davies/Pete Seeger
From: Eldergirl
Date: 09 Jan 14 - 09:23 AM

Nice to discover this thread, bringing back memories. First version I heard was the Byrds', pronouncing it wrong of course, but I knew no better till I asked my schoolmate's Dad, who was Welsh, and he promptly went off into raptures about the Rhymney Brewery!!
Ah, poetry indeed (chortle).
Thanks also for posting full lyric, as I too had missed out on the second verse. So a bit more learning to do.
X el


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Subject: RE: Origin: Bells of Rhymney (Idris Davies/Pete Seeger
From: Joe Offer
Date: 24 Mar 15 - 03:47 PM

Could somebody post the text of the original Idris Davies poem? I can't find it anywhere. I have listened to several Seeger recordings. He sang it different each time, so who knows what lyrics are correct?
-Joe-


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Subject: RE: Origin: Bells of Rhymney (Idris Davies/Pete Seeger
From: FreddyHeadey
Date: 24 Mar 15 - 05:22 PM

Safest I could find:
from a comment in the southwalesargus.co.uk(they should know??) Gwalia Deserta XV

O what can you give me?
Say the sad bells of Rhymney.

Is there hope for the future?
Cry the brown bells of Merthyr.

Who made the mineowner?
Say the black bells of Rhondda.

And who robbed the miner?
Cry the grim bells of Blaina.

They will plunder willy-nilly,
Say the bells of Caerphilly.

They have fangs, they have teeth
Shout the loud bells of Neath.

To the south, things are sullen,
Say the pink bells of Brecon.

Even God is uneasy,
Say the moist bells of Swansea.

Put the vandals in court
Cry the bells of Newport.

All would be well if — if — if —
Say the green bells of Cardiff.

Why so worried, sisters, why
Sing the silver bells of Wye.


And that seems to match this YT of Idris Davies reciting it
www.youtube.com/watch?v=_PMXfpbFccg

One from the words in the book On the Air with Dylan Thomas: The Broadcasts

So the main difference from the poem seems to be missing out of
To the south, things are sullen,
Say the pink bells of Brecon.


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Subject: RE: Origin: Bells of Rhymney (Idris Davies/Pete Seeger
From: Joe Offer
Date: 24 Mar 15 - 05:32 PM

Thank you kindly, Freddy. Sounds like Seeger's recording is quite accurate, except for his tendency to switch the verbs around (say, sing, cry, etc).

-Joe-


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