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Lyr Req: Fire Down Below/William Fender Version

Charley Noble 27 Jun 02 - 10:40 AM
Dead Horse 27 Jun 02 - 01:19 PM
Rt Revd Sir jOhn from Hull 05 Jul 02 - 02:43 AM
Charley Noble 05 Jul 02 - 09:45 AM
Barry Finn 05 Jul 02 - 01:12 PM
Charley Noble 05 Jul 02 - 03:04 PM
Charley Noble 06 Jul 02 - 10:14 AM
Harry Basnett 06 Jul 02 - 12:34 PM
Charley Noble 06 Jul 02 - 01:26 PM
Noreen 06 Jul 02 - 07:42 PM
Harry Basnett 07 Jul 02 - 06:27 AM
Charley Noble 14 Jul 02 - 05:17 PM
Malcolm Douglas 14 Jul 02 - 08:56 PM
Malcolm Douglas 14 Jul 02 - 09:00 PM
Charley Noble 15 Jul 02 - 08:46 AM
Charley Noble 17 Jul 02 - 08:51 AM
GUEST,Harrie Hayward 22 May 11 - 07:46 PM
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Subject: Lyr Add: FIRE DOWN BELOW (from William Fender
From: Charley Noble
Date: 27 Jun 02 - 10:40 AM

I've heard The Johnson Girls and Jeri (Mudcat) do fine versions of this old shanty collected by James M. Carpenter in the 1920's from a Welsh seaman William Fender of Barry Docks who served at sea from 1878 to 1900. The verses and tune are quite different from other sea shanties with "Fire Down Below" choruses. I'd love to know how close the words that folks are now singing are to those on file at the Library of Congress, and if the tune and arrangement are new?

The words for the first two verses run as follows:

FIRE DOWN BELOW

I thought I heard the old man say,
Fire down below-oh-oh-oh-ohh, boys,
Fire down below!
"You can go ashore and get your pay."
Fire down below-oh-oh-oh-ohh, boys,
Fire down below!

But I don't care what the Captain say,
Fire down below-oh-oh-oh-ohh, boys,
Fire down below!
'Cause two pounds ten won't pay me way,
Fire down below-oh-oh-oh-ohh, boys,
Fire down below!

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Fire Down Below/William Fender Version
From: Dead Horse
Date: 27 Jun 02 - 01:19 PM

Sounds to me like a *crossing* of two or more shanties, a custom that was very common. Shantyman recons the words to one shanty would fit the task in hand, provided the tune was taken from another, or vice versa.
Nearly all the so called shanties we sing nowadays as folk tunes, would be almost unrecognisable to the old sea-dogs who originated 'em. And vice versa!


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Fire Down Below/William Fender Version
From: Rt Revd Sir jOhn from Hull
Date: 05 Jul 02 - 02:43 AM

refresh


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Fire Down Below/William Fender Version
From: Charley Noble
Date: 05 Jul 02 - 09:45 AM

Bob Walser uses basically the same words and tune arrangement on his recent CD as do The Johnson Girls; I believe Walser recorded it first while he was in the UK.

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Fire Down Below/William Fender Version
From: Barry Finn
Date: 05 Jul 02 - 01:12 PM

Hi Charlie, maybe you might PM Liam'Sister In Law (by way of Laim's Brother. I know Bonnie did quite a bit of good research on the songs that they recorded & wouldn't be at all suprised if her's isn't direct from the Carpenter collection which she is familiar with. The small bit that I have can be found in Hugill's Shanties from the Seven Seas (5 versions/variants), Harlow's Chanteying Aboard American Ships (2 versions), Colcord's Roll & Go (1 version) & Abrahams's Deep the Water Shallow The Shore (2 versions). Abrahams has his from the Isle of Nevis used for rowing & of West Indian origin. Hugill has all of his as negro in origin & all used at the pumps, though he also says it later was used as a capstan but gives no example of it in that form. His 1st version is also from a Welch sailor. Colcord also has it being used at the pumps. Harlow has both his versions, again used at the pumps & being "pureeely English" with the 2nd version being used by "Badian Negros" at the falls. The Johnson Girls have it being sung as a capstan shanty & I'd say that is where the difference between their version & most of the more commonly sung/heard other versions. Lastly all of the versions I point out sing of different parts of the ship where the fire might be located in the J-Girls the references are unreleated to any fire.
Don't know if any of this shed's a little more light on what you're looking for or if you already knew this (in which case you should slap my face) but there you go anyway.
Barry


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Fire Down Below/William Fender Version
From: Charley Noble
Date: 05 Jul 02 - 03:04 PM

Thanks, Barry. The Fender version is the one I'm after, where the "fire" is strictly chorus/refrain. I better e-mail Bonnie or Bob Walser and see what they have to say and then report back.

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Fire Down Below/William Fender Version
From: Charley Noble
Date: 06 Jul 02 - 10:14 AM

Reporting back! Bob Walser confirms that:

"The tune is from the (wax) cylinder from which I transcribed it - see my article, 'Here We Come Home in a Leaky Ship!': The Shanty Collection of James Madison Carpenter, Folk Music Journal 7/4 (1998): 471-495. The arrangement...(t)he overlapping of the verse and chorus is my contribution and clearly moves the song from the deck to the stage."

Now we know! Gret work, Bob!

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Fire Down Below/William Fender Version
From: Harry Basnett
Date: 06 Jul 02 - 12:34 PM

I don't suppose anybody has the words to Mr. Walser's rendering of "Down Trinidad"?

Cheers...........Harry.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Fire Down Below/William Fender Version
From: Charley Noble
Date: 06 Jul 02 - 01:26 PM

Harry,

"Down Trinidad" (looking for Sunny D'Or), wasn't that the subject of a separate thread? That song is included in Walser's CD WHEN OUR SHIP COMES HOME. If you PM me, I'll provide you Bob's e-mail address and you can ask him yourself. You could also revive the older thread.

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Fire Down Below/William Fender Version
From: Noreen
Date: 06 Jul 02 - 07:42 PM

Lyr Req: Down Trinidad


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Fire Down Below/William Fender Version
From: Harry Basnett
Date: 07 Jul 02 - 06:27 AM

Thanks Charley and Noreen. I'll PM you post-haste, Charley.
Noreen...are you still OK for the Red Duster gig next week at the Open Door? I'll be posting a thread 'cos they're doing a themed performance about Lord Franklin which sounds pretty interesting!!

Thanks to you both again............Harry.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Fire Down Below/William Fender Version
From: Charley Noble
Date: 14 Jul 02 - 05:17 PM

Hmmmm. I've been doing some research on the next to last verse of the Walser/Johnson Girls version which runs:

And we'll go down to the Midway Plaisances,
Fire down below-oh-oh-oh-ohh, boys,
Fire down below!
To see the pretty girls do the hula-hula dances,
Fire down below-oh-oh-oh-ohh, boys,
Fire down below!

Very nice as it stands but it MAY represent a mis-transcription of the William Fender original recording. There was such a place as the Midway Plaisance in late 19th century San Francisco but I find no references to "hula-hula dancing." Here's what I've been looking over:

Notes from The Barbary Coast by Herbert Asbury, Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., NY, 1933

The Midway Plaisance

Located outside the infamous Barbary Coast district on Market Street, between 3rd and 4th streets. in San Francisco between the early 1890's and early 1900's.

"The first melodeon or music hall in San Francisco to make a special feature of hoochy-coochee dancers, or, as the theatrical weekly Variety calls them. 'torso-tossers and hip-wavers.' Some of the most noted cooch artists of the day appeared at the Midway Plaisance, among them the Girl in Blue and the original Little Egypt, who first danced in San Francisco in 1897, a few years after her triumphs in the Streets of Cairo Show at the first Chicago World's Fair. The admission charge at the Midway Plaisance was ten cents, slightly lower than at the Bella Union (its older rival), and it was tougher in every way; its shows were bawdier, and virtue among its female entertainers was considered very detrimental to the best interests of the establishment. Like practically all of the other melodeons, it had a mezzanine floor cut up into booths, before which hung heavy curtains. A visitor who engaged a booth for the evening was entertained between acts by the female performers and his conduct was not questioned so long as he continued to buy liquor." (pps. 131-132)

At the very least, we should be singing "Midway Plaisance," and most likely singing "hoochy-coochee dance" if we wish to be historically accurate. Or maybe we need to listen more carefully to the original recording; maybe that's what Fender is singing.

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


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Subject: Lyr Add: FIRE DOWN BELOW (from William Fender)
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 14 Jul 02 - 08:56 PM

I meant to get back to this thread earlier, but got caught up in work and stuff. Quoted below is Fender's text, with Robert Young Walser's notes, as given in The Folk Music Journal, vol.7 no.4, 1998. When Carpenter met him, Fender was living at 16 Sydenham Street, Barry Docks, South Wales.

FIRE DOWN BELOW

William Fender sang at least twenty-two shanties for Carpenter, several of which are unreported elsewhere. According to Carpenter's notes, Fender went to sea in 1878 and left sail in 1900. In common with other versions of Fire Down Below, Fender's rendition is marked for use at the capstan by Carpenter's note, "Vast heaving!" -the order to stop work at the capstan.

Fire in the fore-top, fire in the main-top,
Fire down below,
Oh boys! Fire down below!
I thought I heard our old man say,
Two pound ten won't pay my way,

Another set of words from William Fender runs as follows:

I don't care what the captain say,
I'll take my clothes and run away,

I'll run away at the break of day,
Because I can no longer stay,

I'll go to my girl round 'Frisco Bay;
I know very well 'tis with me she will stay.

Because she know I have twelve months pay,

And we'll go down to the Midway Plasances [sic -RYW]
See the pretty girls dance the Hula-Hula dances.

[Spoken] Vast Heaving!

A midi of the notation can, for now, be heard via the South Riding Folk Network site:

Fire Down Below (midi)


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Fire Down Below/William Fender Version
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 14 Jul 02 - 09:00 PM

Whoops. Make that Fire Down Below (midi)


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Fire Down Below/William Fender Version
From: Charley Noble
Date: 15 Jul 02 - 08:46 AM

Thanks, Malcolm, for your additional notes. I wish I could get ahold of the article. I'll see if I can get an additional response from Bob Walser or from the Johnson Girls.

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Fire Down Below/William Fender Version
From: Charley Noble
Date: 17 Jul 02 - 08:51 AM

Got a nice response from Bob Walser after sending him the quotation from Asbury's THE BARBARY COAST:

"Thanks for the great quote. I hadn't seen it before...As for the words, Carpenter wrote 'hula-hula' (not "hoochy-coochee") and the recording, if there ever was one, does not survive. I think you've spotted the source, we'll just have to take Fender's words as folk-processed."

Bob's sending me a copy of his article in The Folk Music Journal that Malcolm refers to above. This should be interesting.

I could swear that people have referred to Carpenter's original wax cylinder recordings that were re-recorded onto tape that are or were available from both Cecil Sharp House and the Smithsonian. I wonder if my mind is playing tricks with me? Should the hunt continue? Of course, we can sing anything we damn well please, but it's nice to know more about where a song comes from.

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Fire Down Below/William Fender Version
From: GUEST,Harrie Hayward
Date: 22 May 11 - 07:46 PM

I would just like to add to this thread that I'm enjoying the Fisherman's Friends' version of Fire Down Below, which uses similar lyrics to those mentioned in this thread. I've posted because it's now 9 years since the last post, and I want to let you know that it is still of interest (as folk music usually is long after it was last written down!). Thanks all.


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