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Origins: What Does the Deep Sea Say?

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WHAT DOES THE DEEP SEA SAY?


Related threads:
Chord Req: What does the deep sea say? (14)
LyrReq: What did the deep sea say? / What Does... (4) (closed)


Peter T. 27 Jan 01 - 01:42 PM
GUEST,Gene 27 Jan 01 - 02:06 PM
Peter T. 27 Jan 01 - 02:22 PM
Uncle_DaveO 27 Jan 01 - 04:22 PM
harpgirl 27 Jan 01 - 05:33 PM
Peter T. 27 Jan 01 - 05:36 PM
Sorcha 27 Jan 01 - 05:51 PM
Peter T. 28 Jan 01 - 11:31 AM
GUEST,Art Thieme 28 Jan 01 - 04:00 PM
Peter T. 29 Jan 01 - 08:41 AM
Dave the Gnome 29 Jan 01 - 11:26 AM
Dani 29 Jan 01 - 12:46 PM
Art Thieme 29 Jan 01 - 05:33 PM
Rick Fielding 29 Jan 01 - 09:27 PM
Peter T. 30 Jan 01 - 09:28 AM
harpgirl 24 Feb 03 - 12:43 PM
Alba 24 Feb 03 - 01:28 PM
GUEST,Q 24 Feb 03 - 01:38 PM
Art Thieme 24 Feb 03 - 03:57 PM
harpgirl 24 Feb 03 - 04:03 PM
GUEST,Pete Peterson 24 Feb 03 - 04:25 PM
GUEST,Pete Peterson 24 Feb 03 - 04:31 PM
harpgirl 24 Feb 03 - 04:50 PM
Joe Offer 24 Feb 03 - 04:53 PM
Stewie 24 Feb 03 - 07:23 PM
Stewie 24 Feb 03 - 07:56 PM
GUEST,Pete Peterson 24 Feb 03 - 09:13 PM
Art Thieme 24 Feb 03 - 11:50 PM
harpgirl 25 Feb 03 - 12:11 AM
Art Thieme 25 Feb 03 - 12:18 AM
BrooklynJay 27 Oct 10 - 07:29 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 27 Oct 10 - 07:58 PM
McGrath of Harlow 27 Oct 10 - 08:56 PM
BrooklynJay 28 Oct 10 - 03:13 AM
GUEST,Bill Margeson 09 Aug 16 - 01:54 PM
GUEST,E Harold 28 Apr 17 - 05:49 PM
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Subject: What Does The Deep Sea Say?
From: Peter T.
Date: 27 Jan 01 - 01:42 PM

Listening to the classic "Old Timey Concert" with Doc Watson, etc., I note that the song "What Does The Deep Sea Say?" is credited to the Monroe Brothers. Is that the earliest credit, or was it written by someone else? It sounds old.

yours, Peter T.


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Subject: RE: What Does The Deep Sea Say?
From: GUEST,Gene
Date: 27 Jan 01 - 02:06 PM

Peter T.: BMI.com lists 4 authors, including Grandpa Jones/Mainer/Briarhopper


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Subject: RE: What Does The Deep Sea Say?
From: Peter T.
Date: 27 Jan 01 - 02:22 PM

Hmm. I wonder if that means there is an earlier recording -- I have this nagging memory that the Carter family did it. yours, Peter T.


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Subject: RE: What Does The Deep Sea Say?
From: Uncle_DaveO
Date: 27 Jan 01 - 04:22 PM

I have it with Woodie Guthrie.

Dave Oesterreich


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Subject: RE: What Does The Deep Sea Say?
From: harpgirl
Date: 27 Jan 01 - 05:33 PM

...Art sings it!


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Subject: RE: What Does The Deep Sea Say?
From: Peter T.
Date: 27 Jan 01 - 05:36 PM

It must be old then. But seriously....


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Subject: RE: What Does The Deep Sea Say?
From: Sorcha
Date: 27 Jan 01 - 05:51 PM

Woody Guthrie w/Leadbelly was the earliest I could find, and there was no date on that, really, just b & d dates for Woody and Huddy. Gotta be earlier than the Monroe Bros, tho.


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Subject: RE: What Does The Deep Sea Say?
From: Peter T.
Date: 28 Jan 01 - 11:31 AM

Curiouser and curiouser. At least one place cites the song as trad./Charlie Monroe, and gives it an alternative title ("Where Is My Sailor Boy?"). Maybe that will trigger someone's memory.
Note: also recorded by Doc Watson, the Blue Sky Boys, and stolen by Bob Dylan for "Troubled in Mind and I Don't Know Why".
yours, Peter T.


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Subject: RE: What Does The Deep Sea Say?
From: GUEST,Art Thieme
Date: 28 Jan 01 - 04:00 PM

BILL and Earl Bolick---the great old-timey brother duo---did it pretty early on. Also, the version I do is one I got from LEE O.B. QUIGGINS of Butler County, Kentucky. When I met Lee he was playing a beat-up old Matin on Main Street in downtownEvansville, Indiana----July 21st, 1960.

He was a blind street-singerplaying for cash on the street. He sang it there and then---I wrote it down. Later that day---night actually---I went up to the room Lee had at the Old Lincoln Hotel in E-ville and taped about an hour of Mr. Quiggins (who I've elaborated on in other threads here.) Those reel-to-reel tapes deterriorated over the years and I never could save it like I did with about 5 of his songs. (Got those onto a cassette and a friend digitized 'em recently and they're now with Joe Hickerson and scheduled to go into the L. of Congress Archives.)

Later, before I did a recording of the song, I took several snatches and lines from the Mary Wheeler book from the 1940s, STEAMBOATIN' DAYS, and fleshed out the song some. Dillon Bustin and many others used that little volume to make some fine songs. I list my version as traditional and that is where it should be to my way o' thinking. It has gone through the process actually known as "the oral tradition"---the crucible that MAKES songs into folksongs.

Even if coppywritten, who the hell really knows ? The waters get muddy --- and that makes the search so much fun.

Love,

Art Thieme


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Subject: RE: What Does The Deep Sea Say?
From: Peter T.
Date: 29 Jan 01 - 08:41 AM

Fascinating, Art. I would still like some more information on its origins. Anyone?
yours, Peter T.


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Subject: RE: What Does The Deep Sea Say?
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 29 Jan 01 - 11:26 AM

Sorry about this, smutty SOH and boredom in the office thread creep -

"BILL and Earl Bolick---the great old-timey brother duo"

In the UK, were they known as the Bolicks? If the whole family attended would there be a load of Bolicks

Oh the endless joy of such a name

From one who was once called Polakow - or Bolokov as they said in school....

Dave the Gnome


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Subject: RE: What Does The Deep Sea Say?
From: Dani
Date: 29 Jan 01 - 12:46 PM

So what should we do about the DT version that says "Woody Guthrie" on it?


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Subject: RE: What Does The Deep Sea Say?
From: Art Thieme
Date: 29 Jan 01 - 05:33 PM

Bill and Earl Bolick were THE BLUE SKY BOYS. (I Forgot to mention that.)

Art


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Subject: RE: What Does The Deep Sea Say?
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 29 Jan 01 - 09:27 PM

Sorry I didn't see this earlier Peter. Some good information here.

Any chance that anyone could post the Monroe brothers lyrics. There may be an earlier version than 1936 (perhaps with a different title or different selection of verses) but I'm not familiar with one. The Bolicks credit the Monroes with being their main influence, so I doubt their's precedes Bill and Charlie. What about Homer Briarhopper...anyone know his recording history. I've always thought this song was similar to the Carters' "Storms Are On The Ocean" in that the verses are found in a great many American songs and can be traced back across the pond pretty easily.

J.E. Mainer also put his name to a lot of traditional material, as did Wiley and Zeke Morris, A.P. Carter and Grampa Jones. (remember the controversy over "Mountain Dew?)

No question in my mind that the Bolicks did the nicest "old" version of it. Doc's version is great too.

Rick


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Subject: RE: What Does The Deep Sea Say?
From: Peter T.
Date: 30 Jan 01 - 09:28 AM

I don't have the lyrics to hand, but will post them at some point. I can't help but think that there is some traditional ballad connected to this, under some other name. The Carters sang another ocean song whose title escapes me -- No One Loves Me (But My Sailor) or something .
yours, Peter T.


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Subject: RE: What Does The Deep Sea Say?
From: harpgirl
Date: 24 Feb 03 - 12:43 PM

redo


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Subject: RE: What Does The Deep Sea Say?
From: Alba
Date: 24 Feb 03 - 01:28 PM

Is the Carter Family song your are thinking about called."I have no-one to love me"
Line..I have no-one to love me but the sailor on the deep blue sea.
Alba


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Subject: RE: What Does The Deep Sea Say?
From: GUEST,Q
Date: 24 Feb 03 - 01:38 PM

The Carters did another which they called "Waves on the Sea." It is related to "Deep Blue Sea." It appears in the websites which carry their lyrics.


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Subject: RE: What Does The Deep Sea Say?
From: Art Thieme
Date: 24 Feb 03 - 03:57 PM

I have no memory of this thread. Sorry if my re-posting of info upsets folks on occasion. I did include details of where my verses came from in Harpgirls recent 2/03 thread...

Art Thieme


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Subject: RE: What Does The Deep Sea Say?
From: harpgirl
Date: 24 Feb 03 - 04:03 PM

gee, Art. I was just happy to read some more of what you wrote about the origins of this song. I wrote on this thread too and didn't remember it. I have only myself to blame for my memory problems, however!


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Subject: RE: What Does The Deep Sea Say?
From: GUEST,Pete Peterson
Date: 24 Feb 03 - 04:25 PM

Hi there Ms. Harp!
Yes, the Monroe Brothers regorded this as did the Blue Sky Boys, but the earliest version I know of is by Mac and Bob (Lester Macfarland and Robert A Gardner) and is much more comprehensible. I believe the Monroe Bros. learned how to reproduce phonetically other songs without paying much attention to whether the words make sense (supporting evidence: later verses of Banks of the Ohio where the singer switches back and forth from 1st to 3rd person, and the "peerious deep" in Drifting Too Far, and so on) I'll put the words as I know them in another post.


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Subject: RE: What Does The Deep Sea Say?
From: GUEST,Pete Peterson
Date: 24 Feb 03 - 04:31 PM

here's the one I know and it's VERY different from Art T's:

Oh where is my sailor boy,
Where is my sailor boy
He sleeps at the bottom of the deep blue sea
And he can't come back to me
I stand on the beach alone
And gaze at the misty blue
Deep sea as you hold him to your breast
Does he mention my name to you

Oh what does the deep sea say
What does the deep sea say
It moans, it groans, it splashes and it foams
And goes on its weary way

Oh please tell me deep blue sea
Is he sleeping peacefully
The winds on the foam are blowing icy cold
Will you keep him warm for me
If only my grieving soul
Some token or sign could find
If only the waves would tell me where he sleeps
I would leave this world behind

A beautiful rose one day
I placed on the brow of the wave
Saying waves, take it please, and let its petals fall
Upon his wat'ry grave
The driftwood I watched in vain
My rose never came back again
So waves take another message to my love
Saying I'll meet him above


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Subject: RE: What Does The Deep Sea Say?
From: harpgirl
Date: 24 Feb 03 - 04:50 PM

Wow, Dr. Peterson, only the chorus resembles Art's version...


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Subject: RE: What Does The Deep Sea Say?
From: Joe Offer
Date: 24 Feb 03 - 04:53 PM

Hi, Pete - what's the source for your version?
-Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: What Does The Deep Sea Say?
From: Stewie
Date: 24 Feb 03 - 07:23 PM

Meade et alia 'Country Music Sources' give Bob Miller/Charotte Kaye, words and music, 1929 and reference West Virginia Folklore, IX, #2, 25-26. The earliest recording was by Vernon Dalhart in July 1929, followed by Mac and Bob, mentioned by Pete P. above, in June 1930 [but not released until January 1931] and then Bob Miller in December 1931 [but not released until February 1932]. The Carter Family recorded it in May 1934 for Victor, but this was unissued.

--Stewie.


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Subject: RE: What Does The Deep Sea Say?
From: Stewie
Date: 24 Feb 03 - 07:56 PM

With a few minor changes - 'rolls' for 'goes' in the chorus; 'the wind from the north' in stanza 2; and 'crest' for 'brow' in stanza 3 - what Pete P. posted above accords with the Blue Sky Boys and Monroe Brothers recordings. A Blue Sky Boys recording, under the title 'What Does the Deep Sea Say', is available on CD: 'Blue Sky Boys' Rounder CD 0052. The Monroe Brothers recorded it under the title 'Where Is My Sailor Boy' and this is available on volume two of the Rounder reissues of their work - The Monroe Brothers 'Volume Two: Just A Song of Old Kentucky' Rounder CD 1074 - and also on the recent Bear Family 6-CD set Bill Monroe 'Blue Moon of Kentucky 1936-1949' which includes the complete Monroe Brothers Bluebirds [60 sides].

--Stewie.


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Subject: RE: What Does The Deep Sea Say?
From: GUEST,Pete Peterson
Date: 24 Feb 03 - 09:13 PM

Mine is more or less Mac and Bob (as learned from Tim Woodbridge, who sat down one day with the Mac and Bob recording and "found out that the words actually made sense that way." I've never heard Vermin Dahlhart's recording; Tim played the Mac and Bob record for me, but I HAVE copies of both the Monroe Bros and Blue Sky Boys recording-- and back in 1964 (plus or minus 2) at the Phila Folk Festival I heard Bill Monroe and Doc Watson do it with Doc taking Charlie Monroe's part-- which is when I decided I wanted to know it! (took another couple years to meet Tim and start doing as a duet with him)-- hope this is not WTMI
Wonder what the Carter Family recording sounded like! It's not on the Bear Family set. . .


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Subject: RE: What Does The Deep Sea Say?
From: Art Thieme
Date: 24 Feb 03 - 11:50 PM

I believe I mentioned that the only thing I used from Lee Quiggins' version was the chorus---(and that the rest of his version was very like the Blue Sky Boys.) My version of the song is mostly from re-workings of individual verses and lines in Mary Wheeler's 1944 book STEAMBOATIN' DAYS. The songs she put into this volume were ones she found on the Ohio River mostly. She mentioned her sources obliquely. One source's name was "Uncle Clabe". Another was just "Mary". And there were a few other "Uncle Whomevers". But remember that the term "Uncle" was used with almost any elderly Afro-American male. A young Afro American male was just called "boy". Bill Broonzy had a fine song he sang around Chicago called "I Wonder When Will I Be Called A MAN ?"

I found 57 year old Lee Quiggins singing and picking his Martin practically *IN* the Ohio River there in Evansville, Indiana. I took the Mary Wheeler book I'd found in the Evansville Public Library and, yes, created the new song from the bits and pieces--and Lee's chorus. I spent several summers I was in high school working in Evansville and trying to find music in the valley. It's a stretch to call my final WDTDSS version a trad river song----but maybe not. Definitions seem to morph around here at the speed o' light these days. ;-)

Art Thieme


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Subject: RE: What Does The Deep Sea Say?
From: harpgirl
Date: 25 Feb 03 - 12:11 AM

...but...is it folk music?


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Subject: RE: What Does The Deep Sea Say?
From: Art Thieme
Date: 25 Feb 03 - 12:18 AM

Abby---No, but wait 5 minutes and 50% of folks here will say it is.

;-)

Art


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Subject: RE: What Does The Deep Sea Say?
From: BrooklynJay
Date: 27 Oct 10 - 07:29 PM

Here are the lyrics transcribed from the recording by Woody Guthrie and Cisco Houston (c.1944), available on "Woody Guthrie sings Folk Songs."

What Did the Deep Sea Say?

Oh Captain, tell me true
Does my sailor sail with you?
"No, he does not sail with me,
He sleeps on the bottom of the sea."

(Chorus:)
What did the deep sea say?
Tell me, what did the deep sea say?
It moaned and groaned, and it splashed and it foamed
And it rolled on its weary way.

Well, he promised he'd write to me,
But his promise he never kept true.
Never a word from a sailor have I heard
Since he sailed on that ocean blue.

What did the deep sea say?
Tell me, what did the deep sea say?
It moaned and groaned, and it splashed and it foamed
And it rolled on its weary way.

A beautiful rose every day
I place on the crest of the waves.
Said, "Take it please, and let the petals fall
Above his watery grave."

What did the deep sea say?
Tell me, what did the deep sea say?
It moaned and groaned, and it splashed and it foamed
And it rolled on its weary way.

What did the deep sea say?
Tell me, what did the deep sea say?
It moaned and groaned, and it splashed and it foamed
And it rolled on its weary way.


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Subject: RE: What Does The Deep Sea Say?
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 27 Oct 10 - 07:58 PM

U. S. Merchant Marine Songs here:
From www.usmm.org/poems.html#p100:
"What Did the Deep Sea Say?
Traditional folk song, recorded by Woody Guthrie and Cisco Houston ("The Folkways Years"). Woody Guthrie, Cisco Houston and friend Jim Longhi sailed together on three ships during World War II. They were torpedoed on William B. Travis in the Mediterranean, and either torpedoed or mined on Sea Porpoise off Normandy. Cisco's older brother, Adrian Houston was killed on Parismina in Nov. 1942. [Text from www.ciscohouston.com]."


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Subject: RE: What Does The Deep Sea Say?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 27 Oct 10 - 08:56 PM

No relation, or at most a very distant relation, to this parlour ballad:

What are the wild waves saying,
Sister, the whole day long,
That ever amid our playing
I hear but their low, lone song?
What are the wild Waves saying?

Yes! but there's something greater
That speaks to the heart alone:
'T is the voice of the great Creator
Dwells in that mighty tone.
What are the wild Waves saying?


Words by Joseph Edwards Carpenter. The title features in the Dickens novel Dombey and Son, but I don't know if Dickens was quoting it or if Carpenter wrote a song to use the line.


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Subject: RE: What Does The Deep Sea Say?
From: BrooklynJay
Date: 28 Oct 10 - 03:13 AM

Regarding Q's post, I most definitely recommend Jim Longhi's book Woody, Cisco and Me. I found it quite engrossing.

As soon as you put the book down, you will probably reach for the nearest guitar.

At least I did. ;)


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Subject: RE: Origins: What Does the Deep Sea Say?
From: GUEST,Bill Margeson
Date: 09 Aug 16 - 01:54 PM

Nonsense for anyone to think they can define what is or is not folk music. Same with bluegrass.


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Subject: RE: Origins: What Does the Deep Sea Say?
From: GUEST,E Harold
Date: 28 Apr 17 - 05:49 PM

Delmore Bros. 1935


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