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Origins: Deep Blue Sea

DigiTrad:
DEEP BLUE SEA
SAILOR ON THE DEEP BLUE SEA
WAVE OVER WAVE


Related threads:
Lyr Add: Sailor on the Deep Blue Sea (6)
Lyr Add: Deep Blue Sea Blues (T McClennan) (4)


Barbara 21 May 99 - 07:02 PM
Ferrara 22 May 99 - 10:39 AM
Tiger 22 May 99 - 11:29 AM
Sandy Paton 22 May 99 - 05:13 PM
Pinetop Slim 26 Jan 01 - 02:57 PM
Dani 26 Jan 01 - 10:50 PM
GUEST 26 Jan 01 - 11:11 PM
Sorcha 26 Jan 01 - 11:27 PM
Joe Offer 26 Jan 01 - 11:50 PM
Jon Freeman 27 Jan 01 - 07:48 AM
McGrath of Harlow 27 Jan 01 - 09:57 AM
Pinetop Slim 27 Jan 01 - 08:57 PM
GUEST,Steven Sellors 27 Jan 01 - 10:06 PM
GUEST,DJ 21 Feb 03 - 03:17 PM
GUEST,Q 21 Feb 03 - 03:34 PM
GUEST,Q 21 Feb 03 - 03:45 PM
GUEST,Q 21 Feb 03 - 04:11 PM
Amos 21 Feb 03 - 04:27 PM
GUEST,Q 21 Feb 03 - 05:52 PM
GUEST 21 Feb 03 - 06:04 PM
GUEST,Q 24 Feb 03 - 01:41 PM
GUEST,DJ 25 Feb 03 - 02:15 PM
Dan Schatz 11 Feb 12 - 01:42 PM
mg 11 Feb 12 - 03:13 PM
Mick Pearce (MCP) 11 Feb 12 - 03:27 PM
Joe Offer 11 Feb 12 - 11:50 PM
Phil Edwards 26 Feb 12 - 11:05 AM
Mick Pearce (MCP) 26 Feb 12 - 11:09 AM
Amos 26 Feb 12 - 01:02 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 26 Feb 12 - 03:51 PM
GUEST,Ebor_Fiddler 26 Feb 12 - 03:54 PM
Phil Edwards 26 Feb 12 - 05:44 PM
GUEST,Brad Sondahl 27 Feb 12 - 09:39 PM
Dan Schatz 01 Mar 12 - 12:08 PM
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Subject: More Deep Blue Sea?
From: Barbara
Date: 21 May 99 - 07:02 PM

I know a third verse, besides the two in DT:
Wrap him up in a silken shroud(3x)
It was Willie, what got drownded in the deep blue sea.
but it sure seems like there should be more.

Also, can anyone tell me where this comes from?

I sang it last week, and one of the folks, unfamiliar with it, (is this possible?) thought I was singing "What GOD drownded..."
Blessings,
Barbara


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Subject: RE: More Deep Blue Sea?
From: Ferrara
Date: 22 May 99 - 10:39 AM

Can't think of any more verses, but learned the chorus differently (I have to admit, though, the source was suspect -- this was recorded as a pop song once).

Deep blue sea, Willie, deep blue sea
Storm's are comin' [storm's a-comin'], hear the wind blows free
Deep blue, sea, Willie, deep blue sea
It was Willie what got drownded in the deep blue sea.


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Subject: RE: More Deep Blue Sea?
From: Tiger
Date: 22 May 99 - 11:29 AM

I remember this verse.

Now Willie was the rovin' kind,
At least he thought he was,
But just like you, and just like me,
His rovin's done because
A blue-eyed gal has scuttled him,
That's how it had to be.
She drownded him with two blue eyes,
Just like the deep blue sea.


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Subject: RE: More Deep Blue Sea?
From: Sandy Paton
Date: 22 May 99 - 05:13 PM

We knew a fellow (chap?) in London who mis-heard the chorus and turned the song into a revenant ballad:

It was Willie, walked up drownded
From the deep blue sea.

I kinda liked it!

Sandy


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Subject: Deep Blue Sea
From: Pinetop Slim
Date: 26 Jan 01 - 02:57 PM

I'm looking for lyrics to Deep Blue Sea, with the refrain "it was Willie what got drownded in the deep blue sea." It doesn't seem to be in the DT. Can anyone steer me to the lyrics, or correct me if I've got the title wrong?


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: deep blue sea
From: Dani
Date: 26 Jan 01 - 10:50 PM

Well, I had it, and then I lost it. HELP!?

It's in there, but once it showed up, and then it didn't. If we stand here together and hang on to the pole, the conductor will come by and tell us where our stop is...

Anyway, look under 'D', and try a couple of times, because it's acting squirrely. I seem to recall a thread about this not TOO long ago, too, but that's not showing up either. I'll keep looking.

Dani


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Subject: Lyr Add: DEEP BLUE SEA
From: GUEST
Date: 26 Jan 01 - 11:11 PM

I'll tell you the words I have spliced together. Usually I am quite sure I have the definitive version of any song but this time I won't say so.

Deep blue sea forever deep blue sea
Deep blue sea forever deep blud sea
Deep blue sea forever deep blue sea
Was my Willie what got drownded in the deep blue sea

Captain Oh Captain did he sail with you
Captain Oh Captain did he sail with you
Captain O Captain did he sail with you
Was my Willie what got drownded in the deep blue sea.

Dig his grave with a silver spade (3 times)

Lower him down with a golden chain (3 times)

I hear his voice in the wind at night
I see his face in the pale moonlight
I hear his voice in the wind at night
Twas my Willie what got drownded in the deep blue sea

Deep blue sea forever deep blue sea (3 times)

mg
Line Breaks
added.
-Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: deep blue sea
From: Sorcha
Date: 26 Jan 01 - 11:27 PM

Let's try this Click here for the DT version


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: deep blue sea
From: Joe Offer
Date: 26 Jan 01 - 11:50 PM

I wrap Willie up in a silken shroud, which extends the song by one verse. It's so easy to sing harmonies on this song, it's a shame to sing it quick!
-Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: deep blue sea
From: Jon Freeman
Date: 27 Jan 01 - 07:48 AM

The version I used to sing (not sung it in 20+ years) had the "Wrap him up in a silken shroud" but only (varients of) Guest's verses 1 and 3. We used to finish it with "Golden sun bring him back to me"... at least I think so...

Jon


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: deep blue sea
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 27 Jan 01 - 09:57 AM

I remember the first time I heard this at a Pete Seeger concert inSt Pancras Town Hall many years ago - first time I'd ever heard Pete too. Lovely, and most of the sound coming from us, as is Pete's way.

Only thing is, he told a story about a mondegreen (though he didn't use the word) he'd encountetred with this song, with people singing "It was Willie walked up drownded from the Deep Blue Sea".

And I think that's one worth singing - gives the whole thing an eerie feeling, which fits in with the rest of the words. Try it some time. Mistakes like that are how songs grow and deepen sometimes.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: deep blue sea
From: Pinetop Slim
Date: 27 Jan 01 - 08:57 PM

Thanks all


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: deep blue sea
From: GUEST,Steven Sellors
Date: 27 Jan 01 - 10:06 PM

I one I used to sing had verses like:

Dark of night, baby, dark of night

and

High waves too, baby, high waves too

but we changed that one to "Highway stew, baby". It means road kill, I think.

SS


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: deep blue sea
From: GUEST,DJ
Date: 21 Feb 03 - 03:17 PM

I am also looking for the lyrics to Deep Blue Sea. The last time I heard the song was at my high school variety show in 1961. These are the only words I can remember.

Deep blue sea Willie, deep blue sea
Storms are raging where the winds blow free
Deep blue sea Willie, deep blue sea
It was Willie what got drownded in the Deep blue sea

Ten thousand women worshiped him
and it was said that he
Loved everyone but cared for none
He loved the deep blue sea

I would love have the lyrics to the song to use with my students at school. I would also like to know the history of the song.   Thanks, DJ


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: deep blue sea
From: GUEST,Q
Date: 21 Feb 03 - 03:34 PM

A version with audio is at Max Hunter, www.smsu.edu/folksong/maxhunter/0589/: Deep Blue Sea
The verses silver spade, golden chain and silver shroud have been used in several old songs, including "Old Blue," and are used here as filler. They stem from old spirituals and southern hymns.


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Subject: Lyr Add: THE DEEP BLUE SEA (from Vance Randolph)
From: GUEST,Q
Date: 21 Feb 03 - 03:45 PM

Here are some verses from Vance Randolph, Ozark Folksongs, no. 794, vol. 4, pp. 309-310. Sung by Miss Grace Hahn, 1941. Sheet music shown.

Lyr. Add: THE DEEP BLUE SEA

He promised to write me a letter,
He promised to write to me,
But I haven't heard from my darling
Who is sailing on the deep blue sea.

Oh, captain, can you tell me,
Can you tell me where he may be?
Oh yes, my pretty maiden,
He is drownded in the deep blue sea.

Farewell to friends and relations,
This is the last you'll see of me,
For I'm going to end my troubles
By drownding in the deep blue sea.

Other verses, other sources, Randolph, p. 310, vol. 4

My mother is dead and buried,
My father's forsaken me,
And I have no one to love me
But my sailor on the deep blue sea.

It was last Sunday evening
Just about the hour of three,
When my darling started for to leave me
To sail on the deep blue sea.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: deep blue sea
From: GUEST,Q
Date: 21 Feb 03 - 04:11 PM

The name "Willie," and the general theme, may (speculation here) have been inspired by the Stephen Collins Foster song, "Willie, We have Missed You," 1854. In turn, it inspired "Willie's Welcome Home- an Answer to Willie, We Have Missed You," words by A. Fleetwood, music by A. Von Smit, 1856.
Foster himself killed Willie in "Our Willie Dear is Dying," 1961.
These may be found at the Levy site. (Song not really tied to the others)


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: deep blue sea
From: Amos
Date: 21 Feb 03 - 04:27 PM

These are, as can be plainly seen, two different songs with the same title. One of them has a a tempo appropriate for remorse, while the second one posted has a lilting bluegrass tempo.

A


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: deep blue sea
From: GUEST,Q
Date: 21 Feb 03 - 05:52 PM

As Amos points out, the Randolph songs require a different tune from the first two posted and from the Max Hunter song (and from the DT song as well). Like many of these songs, however, it is likely that more than one melody was used.
The songs by Foster and von Smit are, of course, quite different, both in melody and content, but could have furnished the basic idea. Both of them were used on the minstrel circuits and were widespread, reaching the British Isles shortly after their composition and appearing in broadsides.


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Subject: Lyr Add: DEEP BLUE SEA (from DeCormier Singers)
From: GUEST
Date: 21 Feb 03 - 06:04 PM

DEEP BLUE SEA
Words and Music by :
Arranged and adapted by:
Publisher:

Recorded by:
DeCormier Singers - RD865SD
Odetta - TLP1010
Lyrics:

Deep blue sea, baby, deep blue sea
Deep blue sea, baby, deep blue sea
Deep blue sea, baby, deep blue sea
It was Willy what got drownded
In the deep blue sea

Lower him down with a golden chain
Lower him down with a golden chain
Lower him down with a golden chain
it was Willy what got drownded
In the deep blue sea

Dig his grave with a silver spade
Dig his grave with a silver spade
Dig his grave with a silver spade
It was Willy what got drownded
In the deep blue sea
[Home] [song list] [Belafonte Folk Singers] [DeCormier Singers] [Chad Mitchell Trio]

http://w1.871.telia.com/~u87125667/lyrics/deep_blue_sea.htm


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: deep blue sea
From: GUEST,Q
Date: 24 Feb 03 - 01:41 PM

A related song by the Carters, "Waves on the Sea," is in the DT.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: deep blue sea
From: GUEST,DJ
Date: 25 Feb 03 - 02:15 PM

Thank you for your help. DJ


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: deep blue sea
From: Dan Schatz
Date: 11 Feb 12 - 01:42 PM

This (the "Deep blue sea, Willie, deep blue sea) has, for no reason I can discern, been stuck in my head for the past three days. Does anyone know the origin of the song?

Warmly,
Dan


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: deep blue sea
From: mg
Date: 11 Feb 12 - 03:13 PM

Doesn't it sound Jamaican? It does to me..and remember there were cross cultural things going on with lots of Irish there...mg


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: deep blue sea
From: Mick Pearce (MCP)
Date: 11 Feb 12 - 03:27 PM

Dan

All examples seem to be fairly recent. The Ballad Index entry, gives the earliest examples as a Pete Seeger recording of 1955.

The Roud Index - 3119 has 6 entries for the song, the earliest is 1940 - WPA Collection, Univ. of Virginia, Charlotteville, No.288 (version b), under the title The Weeping Willow Tree collected from Mrs. Alice Stapleton, of Esserville, Va. The next is 1942 (the link is to all 6 entries).



Mick


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Subject: RE: Origins: Deep Blue Sea
From: Joe Offer
Date: 11 Feb 12 - 11:50 PM

Here are the lyrics we have in the Digital Tradition:

DEEP BLUE SEA

Deep blue sea, baby, deep blue sea (3x)
It was Willy what got drownded
In the deep blue sea.

Dig his grave with a silver spade (3x)
etc.

Lower Him down with a golden chain (3x)
etc.

filename[ DEEPBLUE
TUNE FILE: DEEPBLUE
CLICK TO PLAY
RG

Here's the Traditional Ballad Index entry:

    Deep Blue Sea (II)

    DESCRIPTION: "Deep blue sea, baby, deep blue sea...It was Willie what got drownded in the deep blue sea"; "Dig his grave with a silver spade..."; "Lower him down with a golden chain..."
    AUTHOR: unknown
    EARLIEST DATE: 1955 (recording, Pete Seeger)
    KEYWORDS: death burial drowning floatingverses lullaby
    FOUND IN: US
    REFERENCES (3 citations):
    PSeeger-AFB, p. 76, "Deep Blue Sea" (1 text, 1 tune)
    Silber-FSWB, p. 58, "Deep Blue Sea" (1 text)
    DT, DEEPBLUE*

    Roud #3119
    RECORDINGS:
    Pete Seeger, "Deep Blue Sea" (on PeteSeeger04) (on PeteSeeger12) (on PeteSeeger15)
    CROSS-REFERENCES:
    cf. "Old Blue" (floating verses)
    cf. "The 'Cholly' Blues" (floating verses)
    cf. "Stormalong" (floating verses)
    cf. "Dig My Grave With a Silver Spade" (floating lyrics)
    NOTES: In this case, perhaps we should refer to "sinkingverses." This song should not be confused with "The Deep Blue Sea", aka "Sailor on the Deep Blue Sea," as recorded by the Carter Family. It may have been a shanty at some point. - PJS
    File: PSAFB076

    Go to the Ballad Search form
    Go to the Ballad Index Song List

    Go to the Ballad Index Instructions
    Go to the Ballad Index Bibliography or Discography

    The Ballad Index Copyright 2016 by Robert B. Waltz and David G. Engle.


    Multiple threads combined to make comparison easier. Messages below are from new threads. -Joe Offer-


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Subject: Origins: Deep Blue Sea (Willie what got drownded)
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 26 Feb 12 - 11:05 AM

Deep blue sea, Willie, deep blue sea...

I'm curious about this short and enigmatic song; where did it come from? Are there related songs? Why does the tag-line appear to be in Cockney?

In formal terms it seems like an oddity - the repetition and the lack of detail are characteristic of a shanty, but the subject matter is anything but.

Any info?


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Subject: RE: Origins: Deep Blue Sea (Willie what got drownded)
From: Mick Pearce (MCP)
Date: 26 Feb 12 - 11:09 AM

Pip

You need to look at this thread Origins: Deep Blue Sea.

(Maybe this should be combined).

Mick


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Subject: RE: Origins: Deep Blue Sea
From: Amos
Date: 26 Feb 12 - 01:02 PM

As for cockney, I think not; the construction using "what" (or "whut") instead of "that" is not unusual in Ozarks and Appalachian colloquial language.

The colorful and oft-borrowed image of lowering him down with a golden chain and digging his grave with a silver spade is found in many Appalachian songs of English descent, of which "Old Blue" comes to mind as a ready example.

I would be willing to bet that the song does derive from memories of English sailor ballads in some way although I cannot tell whence, if we but knew the stages of its descent more clearly. What a foggy business the folk process is sometimes! But the rhythm is not suitable for a working shanty. I could hear ity as a foc'sle head lament for the off watch on a broad reach in fair weather, though.

A


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Subject: RE: Origins: Deep Blue Sea
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 26 Feb 12 - 03:51 PM

'What' instead of that often heard in the western states.

Many a dirt-poor young man from a hard-scrabble farm went to sea, looking for a different life. The song could stem from memory of one of them who never came back.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Deep Blue Sea
From: GUEST,Ebor_Fiddler
Date: 26 Feb 12 - 03:54 PM

Stormy aka Stormalong etc is a shanty which uses the valuable implement/shroud theme. Searching this might throw up origin notes.

Chris.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Deep Blue Sea
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 26 Feb 12 - 05:44 PM

I guess we're getting into spiritual or work-song territory (these are probably two separate categories, but I don't know enough about them to say). The crossover with See That My Grave's Kept Clean is particularly interesting.


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Subject: Lyr Add: Deep Blue Sea
From: GUEST,Brad Sondahl
Date: 27 Feb 12 - 09:39 PM

The recent request for origins of Willy and the Deep Blue Sea reminded me of my own version, which removed a lot of the pathos and was intended for young audiences. So I've just posted a video of it to Youtube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dHcxKZiVyDk
and here are the lyrics, in case you want to sing along...

Deep blue sea, darling, deep blue sea 3x
It was Willy that went sailing on the deep blue sea

The wind blew strong and the waves grew high 3x
It was Willy that got tossed upon the deep blue sea                
        
Spoken: Willy had never been to sea before, and the rocking of the waves made
him seasick:

Moaned and cried, how he moaned and cried 3x
It was Willy that got seasick on the deep blue sea.

Fished for whales, how he fished for whales 3X
It was Willy caught a minnow in the deep blue sea.

Sailed back home, how he sailed back home
The fish was larger in his story when he sailed back home.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Deep Blue Sea
From: Dan Schatz
Date: 01 Mar 12 - 12:08 PM

So I decided to go back to the horse's mouth and look up the notes from the Folkways Pete Seeger box set (notes by Guy Logsdon and Jeff Place). And the answer is - Pete doesn't know either.

"The origin of this American folksong remains unknown; however, Pete speculated that, 'Like many an American song, this seems to have been built out of a fragment of an old English ballad or sea song.' Later, he indicated that he believed that it might have 'been influenced by or passed through West Indian musical idioms.' It is an easily remembered and sung song. Guthrie T. Meade believed that it was related to 'The Sailor Boy' (Laws K12)."

Forever a mystery, I guess. But we tried.

Dan


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