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Lyr Req: Down in a Diving Bell (Alfred Lee, 1870)

Norton 08 Nov 99 - 04:54 PM
Pete peterson 08 Nov 99 - 05:11 PM
Dale Rose 08 Nov 99 - 05:48 PM
Jim Dixon 07 Mar 04 - 04:59 PM
Charley Noble 07 Mar 04 - 05:17 PM
breezy 07 Mar 04 - 07:38 PM
GUEST,Dale 07 Mar 04 - 08:31 PM
Jim Dixon 10 Mar 04 - 06:48 AM
Dave Bryant 10 Mar 04 - 07:08 AM
BB 10 Mar 04 - 02:28 PM
Desert Dancer 10 Mar 04 - 08:13 PM
GUEST,Tod 23 Mar 12 - 09:44 AM
GUEST,Richard Pearce 13 May 13 - 12:30 PM
Jim Dixon 13 May 13 - 11:12 PM
breezy 14 May 13 - 11:45 AM
GUEST,Tod McNeal 08 Aug 13 - 11:14 PM
breezy 09 Aug 13 - 02:52 PM
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Subject: Down in the Diving Bell
From: Norton
Date: 08 Nov 99 - 04:54 PM

Does anyone know the lyrics to and origins of "Down in the Diving Bell" whose chorus is something like?:

Down in the diving bell at the bottom of the sea
There is a pretty place the fisherman love to see
Down in the diving bell at the bottom of the sea
There once was a mermaid, a pretty little mermaid, that came courting me.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Down in the Diving Bell
From: Pete peterson
Date: 08 Nov 99 - 05:11 PM

I'll post it Sometime Soon-- have to go transcribe it. I learned it from Susanna Branch, who got it from Jeff Davis and Jeff Walker. Great song!


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Down in the Diving Bell
From: Dale Rose
Date: 08 Nov 99 - 05:48 PM

Here's the sheet music at The Lester S. Levy Collection of Sheet Music. The search info says it is by S. Hosfield, but the first page says by Alfred Lee ~~ in any event it is from 1870. If you have not used Levy before, there is a link at the bottom of each page which will take you to succeeding pages.


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Subject: Lyr Add: THE DIVING BELL / DOWN IN A DIVING BELL
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 07 Mar 04 - 04:59 PM

From the sheet music images at The Lester S. Levy Collection of Sheet Music:


THE DIVING BELL / DOWN IN A DIVING BELL
(Alfred Lee, 1870)

1. Once I was a sailor bold. Some tales to you I'll tell
Of all the wonders I have seen when in a diving bell.
While on the ocean, messmates for money challeng'd me
I'd not the pluck to go and see the mermaids in the sea.

CHORUS: Down in a diving bell at the bottom of the sea,
That's a pretty place the fishy sights to see.
Down in a diving bell at the bottom of the sea,
Nice little mermaids, pretty little mermaids, all come courting me.

2. When I was only halfway down, mermaids came to me.
They sang and danc'd to welcome me, far down in the sea.
They came in hundreds to shake hands. So many turn'd me pale,
For a very funny thing that all mermaids should shake hands with their tail.

3. When I reach'd the bottom, there I saw a thing to make me laugh.
They'd made a clothesline out of the Atlantic Telegraph.
And old mermaids disclos'd to me with salt tears in their eyes,
Although 'twas under water, 'twas very bad weather to day. (sic; should be "to dry"?)

4. I caught a pretty mermaid. To kiss her was my wish,
But like an eel she slipp'd away, for you can't hold onto fish.
Her mother brought her back again and whisper'd unto me
That if I like down there I might get married in the sea.

5. We married were at a funny church that was built of oyster shells.
The parson wore a bathing gown. A codfish rang the bells.
I'm married now and happy. You girls are in the shade.
You can't compare to mine so fair altho' she's a mermaid.

[In the sheet music, the title is given as THE DIVING BELL on the cover and DOWN IN A DIVING BELL at the top of page 1.]


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Down in the Diving Bell
From: Charley Noble
Date: 07 Mar 04 - 05:17 PM

Note that "Jeff Davis and Jeff Walker" referred to above are probably "Jeff Davis and Jeff WaRNer." Jeff Warner still sings that song at our shanty swaps at the Press Room in NH.

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Down in the Diving Bell
From: breezy
Date: 07 Mar 04 - 07:38 PM

around the Padstow area in CornwallMervyn Vincent used to sing a version, or was it Tommy Morrisey?

their last line went


Pretty little mermaid, Pretty little mermaid, came acourting me


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Down in the Diving Bell
From: GUEST,Dale
Date: 07 Mar 04 - 08:31 PM

It's good to see the link I posted back in 99 still works. Lots of sites have changed things around so they no longer work properly.

I vaguely remember this from when I was a kid, but have no idea what version is hanging out there on the fringes of my mind.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Down in the Diving Bell
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 10 Mar 04 - 06:48 AM

A folk version of this song was collected in California in 1938. You can hear the audio at The Library of Congress American Memory Collection here or see a transcription here.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Down in the Diving Bell
From: Dave Bryant
Date: 10 Mar 04 - 07:08 AM

Breezy - Mervyn did used to sing "Pretty little mermaid, Pretty little mermaid, came a-courting me". "Elsies's Band" sing a version which is nearer to the lyrics posted earlier.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Down in the Diving Bell
From: BB
Date: 10 Mar 04 - 02:28 PM

Elsie's Band will have got it from Cornwall certainly, as they frequent the area over Mayday. It's been sung traditionally down there for decades. Mervyn Vincent did indeed sing it, but many of the fisherman's choirs down there also do so.

We recorded it on one of our CDs as sung by Mervyn, having sung it ourselves for years, then met up with Jeff Warner, and were surprised at how similar the two versions were. The sheet music varies quite drastically from the traditional versions in the USA and here.

Barbara


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Down in the Diving Bell
From: Desert Dancer
Date: 10 Mar 04 - 08:13 PM

Jeff Davis and Jeff Warner recorded it on "Two Little Boys", which has recently been reissued on cd. (RainDog Records RD-102, 1994)

Great noseflute counter melody!

~ Becky in Tucson


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Down in a Diving Bell (Alfred Lee, 1870)
From: GUEST,Tod
Date: 23 Mar 12 - 09:44 AM

"Down in the Diving Bell"

1. Once I was a sailor boy, and a tale to you I'll tell,
It's all about the things I saw down in the diving bell.

CHORUS: Down in the diving bell at the bottom of the sea,
There lives a pretty mermaid the fishermen like to see,
Down in the diving bell at the bottom of the sea.
Nice little mermaid, pretty little mermaid oft came courting me.

2. I saw when I was half way down a thing that made me laugh,
They'd made a clothes line out of the Atlantic telegraph.
The old mermaid she came to me with a salt tear in her eye.
She said, "When you're ten miles under water, it's a very hard matter to dry."

3. Once I caught the pretty fish, to kiss her was my wish,
When like an eel she slipped away, you can't hold onto fish.
Her mother brought her back again, and whispered unto me,
That if I wished, Oh, there I might get married in the sea.

4. So we were married in a queer little church, all built of oyster shells,
The parson wore a floating gown, the codfish rang the bell,
So now we're happy married, you girls are in the shade,
There's none so rare as can compare to the pretty mermaid.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Down in a Diving Bell (Alfred Lee, 1870)
From: GUEST,Richard Pearce
Date: 13 May 13 - 12:30 PM

I can respond to some of the Cornish comments (nice to be in the company of Breezy!). It was sung in Wadebridge at the 'Swan' in the 60s and 70s by Harry Lightfoot. He was an elderly tenor with very little breath and we all went quiet when he sang, or we would never have heard him. It was pretty fragmentary at that time. A fragment of what he sang was printed in the EFDSS magazine by a singer who had recently moved to Cornwall. After Harry died, about 1972, no one sang it but I did it at Mervyn's Stable Loft club at the Molesworth Arms about 5 years later, and later it was revived in the area. It got absorbed into a sequence that Tommy Morrissey and Charlie Pitman used to sing in Wadebridge, Padstow and St Merryn in about the 90s, as a much more upbeat and witty item, and I think they recorded it on their cassette produced about 2000. The upbeat version is still sung in and around Padstow, with a chorus about 'I loved Jemima, and Jemima she loved me'.


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Subject: Lyr Add: DOWN IN THE DIVING BELL
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 13 May 13 - 11:12 PM

My transcription from the recording on Spotify. I have boldfaced the words that are different from the sheet music (see above). Note that several lines are omitted, the equivalent of 2 verses:


DOWN IN THE DIVING BELL
As sung by Jeff Davis and Jeff Warner on "Two Little Boys: More Old-Time Songs for Kids" (1994)

1. Once I was a sailor lad; some tales to you I'll tell
About the wonders of the deep while down in the diving bell.
When I was far across the sea, the captain challenged me:
I'd not the pluck to go and see the mermaids in the sea.

CHORUS: Oh, down in the diving bell to the bottom of the sea,
There are the prettiest sights that you shall ever see.
Down in the diving bell to the bottom of the sea,
Those nice little mermaids, pretty little mermaids, all come courting me.

2. When I got only halfway down, the mermaids came to me
And danced around to greet me at the bottom of the sea.
I clasped a mermaid in my arms; to kiss her was my wish,
But like an eel she slipp'd away; you cannot kiss a fish.

3. Her mother brought her back to me and whisper'd unto me
That if I would, we could be married there beneath the sea.
We were married in a chapel made out of oyster shells.
The parson wore his bathing gown, and the goldfish rang the bells.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Down in a Diving Bell (Alfred Lee, 1870)
From: breezy
Date: 14 May 13 - 11:45 AM

Hello Richard

I's eading there on 21st of this month for tweeks


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Subject: RE: Down in a Diving Bell (Alfred Lee, 1870)
From: GUEST,Tod McNeal
Date: 08 Aug 13 - 11:14 PM

Down in the Diving Bell (The Mermaid (II))

DESCRIPTION: Singer, a sailor, sees amazing sights while down in the diving bell (including the Atlantic Cable used as a clothesline). He courts and marries a mermaid and they live happily, if wetly, ever after
AUTHOR: unknown
EARLIEST DATE: before 1867 (Broadside Bodleian Harding B 11(965))
KEYWORDS: courting marriage wedding sea humorous sailor mermaid/man
FOUND IN: US(MW)
Roud #5013
RECORDINGS:
Warde Ford, "The Mermaid (Down in the Diving Bell)" (AFS 4199 A2, 1938; tr.; in AMMEM/Cowell)
BROADSIDES:
Bodleian, Harding B 11(965), "Down in the Diving Bell," J. Harkness (Preston) , 1840-1866
CROSS-REFERENCES:
cf. "The Mermaid" (subject matter)
cf. "The Merman (Pretty Fair Maid with a Tail)" [Laws K24] (plot)
cf. "Married to a Mermaid" (theme of marrying a mermaid)
NOTES: I call this "Down in the Diving Bell" to differentiate it from "The Mermaid"...seems to have entered tradition under that title. The origin is almost certainly music-hall or vaudeville. - PJS
Bodleian Harding B 11(965) has no reference to the Atlantic cable (which would have set an early date of 1865; an article on the diving bell was printed in 1771 in the Encyclopaedia Britannica (source: The History of the Diving Bell by Arthur J Bachrach, Ph.D. on the Historical Diving Society site.)) - BS
File: RcDitDB

http://www.fresnostate.edu/folklore/ballads/RcDitDB.html


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Down in a Diving Bell (Alfred Lee, 1870)
From: breezy
Date: 09 Aug 13 - 02:52 PM

and again on Wed 14th Aug


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