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Tune Req: Fifteen Men on a Dead Man's Chest

DigiTrad:
YO HO HO


Related thread:
Lyr Req: The Derelict: 'Yo ho ho and a bottle...' (15)


clueless don 08 Oct 08 - 02:43 PM
Dead Horse 08 Oct 08 - 03:29 PM
clueless don 08 Oct 08 - 04:41 PM
Joe Offer 08 Oct 08 - 05:43 PM
Joe Offer 08 Oct 08 - 06:11 PM
Dave Ruch 08 Oct 08 - 06:50 PM
Jim Carroll 09 Oct 08 - 02:45 AM
Bryn Pugh 09 Oct 08 - 08:11 AM
Jayto 09 Oct 08 - 10:53 AM
Dead Horse 09 Oct 08 - 01:00 PM
GUEST,Charles J. Fish 09 Oct 08 - 01:10 PM
clueless don 10 Oct 08 - 08:57 AM
clueless don 14 Oct 08 - 09:15 AM
Jim McLean 14 Oct 08 - 09:39 AM
clueless don 14 Oct 08 - 11:31 AM
Jayto 15 Oct 08 - 10:04 AM
meself 15 Oct 08 - 10:58 AM
Jayto 15 Oct 08 - 11:15 AM
clueless don 16 Oct 08 - 10:09 AM
meself 16 Oct 08 - 11:04 AM
Reiver 2 16 Oct 08 - 02:16 PM
GUEST,Malcolm Douglas (not at home) 16 Oct 08 - 06:03 PM
Dead Horse 17 Oct 08 - 12:51 AM
meself 17 Oct 08 - 12:11 PM
Skivee 17 Dec 08 - 12:48 PM
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Subject: Lyr/Tune Add: FIFTEEN MEN ON A DEAD MAN'S CHEST
From: clueless don
Date: 08 Oct 08 - 02:43 PM

The song "Fifteen Men on a Dead Man's Chest" aka "Yo Ho Ho" aka "Yo, Ho, Ho and a Bottle of Rum" aka "The Derelict", etc., has been discussed elsewhere in Mudcat, for example here. Wikipedia gives a discussion here.

A melody for the song is given in the Digitrad here and also at other sites, for example here. But for the original words that were contained in Robert Louis Stevenson's "Treasure Island", namely

Fifteen men on a dead man's chest
Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum
Drink and the devil had done for the rest
Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum.

(or very close to that), I have a very definite memory of a melody, and it is not the melody found in Digitrad or the other site. Here is the melody I know for it, rendered (however imperfectly) in abc notation. I don't know the key I originally heard it in - I arbitrarily put it in C minor:

X:1
T:Fifteen Men on a Dead Man's Chest
K:Cm
M:4/4
L:1/8
|C2D2E2FF | ^F2G2A2G2 |
c2B2A2GG | FFE2D2G2 |
C2DDEEF2 | ^F2GGA2G2 |
c2c2c2c | decd2c2||

If you copy and paste these lines (starting with the "X:1" line) into the window at concertina.net, and then click "submit", you can see the dots and play a midi version.

I don't know where I heard this other melody, but it is very likely that I heard it on television, or possibly in the movies.

Is anyone else familiar with this other melody?

Don


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Subject: RE: 'Fifteen Men...' alternate melody?
From: Dead Horse
Date: 08 Oct 08 - 03:29 PM

Quinze Marin?


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Subject: RE: 'Fifteen Men...' alternate melody?
From: clueless don
Date: 08 Oct 08 - 04:41 PM

Thank you for responding!

I think I see why my tune reminded you of the Quinze Marin tune, but it's not the same tune. I'm specifically looking for information about my tune being used for the "chorus" of Fifteen Men on a Dead Man's Chest.

Don


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Subject: RE: 'Fifteen Men...' alternate melody?
From: Joe Offer
Date: 08 Oct 08 - 05:43 PM

While we're at it, maybe we should look into the origins of this song. Here's what's in the Traditional Ballad Index:

    Dead Man's Chest

    DESCRIPTION: "Fifteen men on a dead man's chest, Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum, Drink and the devil had done for the rest." A combination of rebellion and civil war in a (pirate?) crew results in the death of captain, bosun, cook, and most of the rest of the crew.
    AUTHOR: Allison & Waller ?
    EARLIEST DATE: 1915
    KEYWORDS: death murder rebellion pirate
    FOUND IN:
    REFERENCES (2 citations):
    Lomax-ABFS, pp. 512-514, "The Buccaneers (The Dead Man's Chest)" (1 text)
    DT, YOHOHO*

    ALTERNATE TITLES:
    Fifteen Men on a Dead Man's Chest
    Yo Ho Ho
    Notes: The origin of this piece is more than usually confused. The initial quatrain appears in Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island (1883), but he reports that he had it from another source. (According to David Cordingly, Under the Black Flag: The Romance and Reality of Life among the Pirates, Harcourt Brace, 1997 [copyright 1995], p. 5, the Dead Man's Chest comes from Charles Kingsley's At Last.)
    In 1901, the full form of the piece is said to have appeared in a musical by Allison & Waller. Did they write it? I don't know. The Lomaxes printed their version from Seven Seas, September 1915. Apparently no author was listed.
    Chances are that this is not a folk song, but it may have folk roots somewhere. - RBW
    File: LxA512

    Go to the Ballad Search form
    Go to the Ballad Index Instructions
    Go to the Bibiography
    Go to the Discography

    The Ballad Index Copyright 2007 by Robert B. Waltz and David G. Engle.


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Subject: Lyr Add: THE BUCCANEERS / DEAD MAN'S CHEST
From: Joe Offer
Date: 08 Oct 08 - 06:11 PM

The version in the Digital Tradition is just a bit different from this version published by Lomax & Lomax. I see no reason to inclued this Lomax version in the database, but here it is:

THE BUCCANEERS
"The Dead Man's Chest"
(from "Seven Seas, 1915; author unknown)

Fifteen men on a dead man's chest,
     Yo-ho-ho and a bottle of rum!
Drink and the devil had done for the rest,
     Yo-ho-ho and a bottle of rum!
The mate was fixed by the bosun's pike,
And the bosun brained with a marlinspike,
And cookie's throat was marked belike;
It had been clutched by fingers ten,
And there they lay, all good, dead men,
Like break o'day in a boozin' ken --
     Yo-ho-ho and a bottle of rum!

Fifteen men of a whole ship's list
     Yo-ho-ho and a bottle of rum!
Dead and bedamned and their souls gone whist!
     Yo-ho-ho and a bottle of rum!
The skipper lay with his nob in gore
Where the scullion's axe his cheek had shore,
And the scullion he was stabbed times four;
And there they lay, and the soggy skies
Dripped ceaselessly in upstaring eyes
By murk sunset and by foul sunrise --
     Yo-ho-ho and a bottle of rum!

Fifteen men of 'em stiff and stark,
     Yo-ho-ho and a bottle of rum!
Ten of the crew bore the murder mark,
     Yo-ho-ho and a bottle of rum!
'Twas a cutlass swipe or an ounce of lead,
Or a gaping hole in a battered head,
And the scuppers' glut with a rotting red;
And there they lay, aye, damn my eyes,
Their lookouts clapped on Paradise,
Their souls gone just the contrawise --
     Yo-ho-ho and a bottle of rum!

Fifteen men of 'em good and true,
     Yo-ho-ho and a bottle of rum!
Every man Jack could 'a' sailed with Old Pew,
     Yo-ho-ho and a bottle of rum!
There was chest on chest of Spanish gold
And a ton of plate in the middle hold,
And the cabins riot of loot untold --
And there they lay that had took the plum
With sightless eyes and their lips struck dumb,
And we shared all by rule of thumb,
     Yo-ho-ho and a bottle of rum!

More was seen through the stern light's screen,
     Yo-ho-ho and a bottle of rum!
Chartings undoubt where a woman had been,
     Yo-ho-ho and a bottle of rum!
A flimsy shift on a bunker cot
With a dirk slit sheer through the bosom spot
And the lace stiff dry in a purplish rot --
Or was she wench or shuddering maid,
She dared the knife and took the blade --
Faith, there was stuff for a plucky jade!
     Yo-ho-ho and a bottle of rum!

Fifteen men on a dead man's chest,
     Yo-ho-ho and a bottle of rum!
Drink and the devil had done for the rest,
     Yo-ho-ho and a bottle of rum!
We wrapped 'em all in a mainsail tight
With twice ten turns of a hawser's bight,
And we heaved 'em over and out of sight,
With a Yo-Heave-Ho! and a fare-ye-well,
And a sullen plunge in a sullen swell
Ten fathoms along on the road to hell,
     Yo-ho-ho and a bottle of rum!

From Lomax & Lomax, American Ballads and Folk Songs, 1934, pages 512-514. No tune provided.


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Subject: RE: Fifteen Men on a Dead Man's Chest -alternate tune?
From: Dave Ruch
Date: 08 Oct 08 - 06:50 PM

The third selection down the list here may or may not be of help.


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Subject: RE: Fifteen Men on a Dead Man's Chest -alternate tune?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 09 Oct 08 - 02:45 AM

Not a song I'm particularly fond of, but I remember hearing a far superior tune to the regular one on an old Burl Ives album of sea songs about forty years ago.
I have no idea where it came from and can't remember the album title, but that is the one that has stuck in my memory.
Also included were The Eddystone Light and Jack Was Every Inch a Sailor.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Fifteen Men on a Dead Man's Chest -alternate tune?
From: Bryn Pugh
Date: 09 Oct 08 - 08:11 AM

If anyone apart from me remembers that ghastly series on childrens television, mid to late 50s 'Long John Silver' with Robert Newton as the man hissels - there was a version sung by Long John's crew, or Purity Pinker, or someone . . .

|I'll get me eye-patch and me brush for a crutch


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Subject: RE: Fifteen Men on a Dead Man's Chest -alternate tune?
From: Jayto
Date: 09 Oct 08 - 10:53 AM

Country Joe and the Fish used (loosely) the melody for a song named Save The Whales. I really liked that song and the way he used the melody. I don't know what album it was on or when it was released though. I wish I had more info about it but I thought I'd let you know it was out there.


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Subject: Lyr Add: QUINZE MARINS / FIFTEEN MEN ON A DEAD ...
From: Dead Horse
Date: 09 Oct 08 - 01:00 PM

Lyrics to tune I gave above.

QUINZE MARINS

Ch :Quinze marins sur le bahut du mort
Yop la ho une bouteille de rhum
A boire et'le diable avait réglé leur sort
Yop la ho une bouteille de rhum

Long John Silver a pris le command'ment
Des marins et vogue la galère
Il tient ses hommes comme il tient le vent
Tout l'monde a peur d'Long John Silver

C'est Bill le second du corsaire
Le capitaine Flin, de colère
Est revenu du royaume des morts
Pour hanter la cage du trésor

Essaye un peu d'le contrecarrer
Et tu iras où tant d'autres sont allés
Que'qu'un aux vergues, que'qu'uns par d'ssus bord
Tout l'monde pour nourrir les poissons d'abord

Tous nous finirons par danser la gigue
La corde au cou au quai des pendus
Toi jeune Forrest et toi jeune Merigue
Si près du gibet qu'j'en ai l'cou tordu


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Subject: RE: Fifteen Men on a Dead Man's Chest -alternate t
From: GUEST,Charles J. Fish
Date: 09 Oct 08 - 01:10 PM

Jayto -- "Save The Whales" is on Country Joe's 1975 solo album "Paradise With An Ocean View." I always felt that the tune was more similar to "Drunken Sailor" then "Fifteen Men on a Dead Man's Chest," though.

There are some great live Country Joe recordings of "Save The Whales" on archive.org. Check them out.


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Subject: RE: Fifteen Men on a Dead Man's Chest -alternate tune?
From: clueless don
Date: 10 Oct 08 - 08:57 AM

The Wikipedia article I referenced in my original posting spoke of a Popeye cartoon called "Popeye and the Pirates". I just watched it on YouTube, and near the beginning the pirate captain and crew sing "Fifteen Men ..." using my tune. I wonder if that's where I heard it originally??

Thank you to everyone who responded to my original query!

Don


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Subject: RE: Fifteen Men on a Dead Man's Chest -alternate tune?
From: clueless don
Date: 14 Oct 08 - 09:15 AM

I was musing about the possibility that I had originally heard my tune for "Fifteen Men ... " in that Popeye cartoon, when an old memory bubbled up from the detritus of my misspent youth - There was an episode of the "Casper, the Friendly Ghost" cartoon, which must have had something to do with pirates. All I remember is that it ended with everybody singing

Fifteen Men on a Dead Man's Chest
Yo, Ho, Ho and a bottle of rum!
Casper's the one that we like best
Yo, Ho, Ho and a bottle of rum!

and I am pretty certain that it was sung to the same tune I asked about in my original posting.

I'm thinking that it had to be a well-established tune for the song. But I'm still looking for the orignal source.

Don


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Subject: RE: Fifteen Men on a Dead Man's Chest -alternate tune?
From: Jim McLean
Date: 14 Oct 08 - 09:39 AM

After listening to the Quinze Marin melody, I couldn't get the Mary Poppins tune Chim chiminey Chim chiminey Chim chim cher-ee out of my head.


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Subject: RE: Fifteen Men on a Dead Man's Chest -alternate tune?
From: clueless don
Date: 14 Oct 08 - 11:31 AM

Found the Casper episode: Deep Boo Sea

I didn't have the words to the final chorus exactly right, but I was right about it being sung to my tune. There were also bits of "The Life on the Rolling Wave" in the soundtrack.

Don


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Subject: RE: Fifteen Men on a Dead Man's Chest -alternate tune?
From: Jayto
Date: 15 Oct 08 - 10:04 AM

Charles you are right it is more like Drunken Sailor. I think my brain shut down for a minute on that one lol. That was a temporary mix up of tunes there lol. Thanks for correcting me man. Whatever tune (drunken sailor for sure) it was it was a great song.


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Subject: RE: Fifteen Men on a Dead Man's Chest -alternate tune?
From: meself
Date: 15 Oct 08 - 10:58 AM

When I just a junior buccaneer-in-training, I would sing, "Fifteen hairs on a dead man's chest" - don't know where I got that, but it made more sense to me then. Still does, actually.


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Subject: RE: Fifteen Men on a Dead Man's Chest -alternate tune?
From: Jayto
Date: 15 Oct 08 - 11:15 AM

Yeah what is up with that? 15 men on a dead man's chest? I have never really understood that.


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Subject: RE: Fifteen Men on a Dead Man's Chest -alternate tune?
From: clueless don
Date: 16 Oct 08 - 10:09 AM

On 15 Oct 08 - 10:58 AM, meself wrote

"When I just a junior buccaneer-in-training, I would sing, 'Fifteen hairs on a dead man's chest' ..."

Yes, but to what tune did you sing it?

Don


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Subject: RE: Fifteen Men on a Dead Man's Chest -alternate tune?
From: meself
Date: 16 Oct 08 - 11:04 AM

Well - I just listened to the midis linked in your initial post, and my tune is not one of those. It's a little jollier; not quite as relentlessly minor. I always assumed, as you did your tune, that it came from TV or movies (specifically, Treasure Island). I don't know that though ...


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Subject: RE: Fifteen Men on a Dead Man's Chest -alternate tune?
From: Reiver 2
Date: 16 Oct 08 - 02:16 PM

In response to Jayto's question: I've always assumed that the "deadman's chest" was a reference not to a part of the deceased anatomy, but to a "treasure chest" that had belonged to him. I probably got that notion from the scene early in Treasure Island where Blind Pew and the others are hunting for Billy Bones' chest which contained (before Jim Hawkins lifted it)the treasure map. Any other thoughts on what kind of chest the song refers to?

Reiver 2


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Subject: RE: Fifteen Men on a Dead Man's Chest -alternate tune?
From: GUEST,Malcolm Douglas (not at home)
Date: 16 Oct 08 - 06:03 PM

The Ballad Index notes are misleading, probably because they have relied too much on secondary sources. They seem to imply that Stevenson got the verse he quoted from Charles Kingsley's book, the full title of which is At Last: a Christmas in the West Indies. He didn't: all he got was the phrase 'The Dead Man's Chest'; the name of an island. Writing of the Virgin Islands, Kingsley said:

'Unfortunately, English buccaneers have since then given to most of them less poetic names. The Dutchman's Cap, Broken Jerusalem, The Dead Man's Chest, Rum Island, and so forth, mark a time and a race more prosaic, but still more terrible, though not one whit more wicked and brutal, than the Spanish Conquistadores, whose descendants, in the seventeenth century, they smote hip and thigh with great destruction.'

(Chapter 1: several facsimile editions can be seen at the Internet Archive: texts.)

What Stevenson meant by 'a dead man's chest' I don't know, but the line would make best sense if, like Kingsley, he was talking about an island.


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Subject: RE: Fifteen Men on a Dead Man's Chest -alternate t
From: Dead Horse
Date: 17 Oct 08 - 12:51 AM

I have always assumed it was a sea chest full of loot, and that a number of dead sailors were buried with it. The surviving cut-throat (Long John hisself) having buried the lot before leaving leaving the desert island.
And thanks a lot Mr McLean, I now have 'orrid pictures of Dick Van Dyke whenever I thinks of French Chanteys :-)


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Subject: RE: Fifteen Men on a Dead Man's Chest -alternate tune?
From: meself
Date: 17 Oct 08 - 12:11 PM

Just remembered: We (I?) would also sing, "Drink to the devil and leave the rest" ... which is a good and piratey sentiment, but I assume it's a mondegreen.


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Subject: RE: Fifteen Men on a Dead Man's Chest -alternate tune?
From: Skivee
Date: 17 Dec 08 - 12:48 PM

Hey, Don. Your ABC version is the tune that I know to 15 Men. It's the one that most of our smelly pirate brethern are currently singing.
I first heard it a few years back from Dragonfire, a group in the Miami area. Might it be the tune that Allison and Young put the poem to on their broadsheet?
In any case one should keep in mind that the song was probably not a real sailor or pirate song; a reaction to a passing fad, like modern fascinations with dinosaurs, movie stars, and, errr, pirates.


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