Deep Blue Sea


We’re staying sat on our logs around the fire for this one as Jon recalls, “Yet another FSC song. I’ve never been totally comfortable with the ‘what got drownded’ line, but there it is and a  great one for harmonies none the less.” I’ve read suggestions that this is either American from British fragments, possibly via the Caribean, but I have to agree with Jon the phrasing is strange. This Mudcat thread is reasonably interesting and comes up with another song in the middle, not to mention a mondegreen from Pete Seeger, who sang this often, which puts the song in a whole new light! This is delightfully mournful and a lovely tune (although not one for Sainsburys) and I like the concertina here very much.

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46 Responses to “Deep Blue Sea”

  1. SRD says:

    I love this one. The spiritualist overtones of the tune, the lyrics that seem not to be quite serious (a bit like ‘On Ilkley Moor Bah Tat’) and the accompaniment like an old church harmonium. One of those songs to belt out without concentrating on the meaning.

  2. muzza says:

    Ha……..SRD beat me to it……..I abso-bloomin-lutely loved it………especially the “Willie he got drownded”……..I look forward to singing this one.
    I am the old duffer that is always complaining that the concertina/fiddle is too loud (sorry Fay/Jon).but it was just right this time.

  3. normanden says:

    Lovely, we like this one, beautifully sung. By the way, we loved the Tewkesbury gig, one of the best we’ve been to for ages, thanks to you both!

  4. Simon Dewsbury says:

    Feeling wins out over grammar this time.
    ‘dig his grave a silver spade’ – what a wonderful image. I think I’ll be listening to this one a lot – just listened to it twice straight through for a start.

  5. Sarah says:

    Love this one, I can hear my Grandad saying ‘what got drownded’, he was a Sussex man.

  6. Fiona Castle says:

    Wow! It’s rare to stumble across something as bad as this dressed up to be worthwhile, relevant or dare I say good.

    It’s like going to a craft fair in a small village and suggesting that the watercolour done by the 97 year old local artist with arthritis is quality. (It’s not, in case you were wondering!)

  7. Alan says:

    Absolutely tozzing.

  8. Jan says:

    The Spinners used to sing this, and Cliff was Jamaican so that may confirm a Caribbean origin. I loved Jon’s version, and shall definitely revive this one for folk club, ‘what got drownded’ and all! Ican hear those harmonies now…

  9. Jan says:

    Just went and listened to the tape – Spinners sing
    Dug his grave with an iron spade
    Lowered him down on a silver chain
    Marked his grave with a cross of gold
    – for what it’s worth.

  10. Jane Ramsden says:

    “It’s like going to a craft fair in a small village and suggesting that the watercolour done by the 97 year old local artist with arthritis is quality. (It’s not, in case you were wondering!)”

    I’ve got to say, there is nothing which precludes the 97-year-old local artist from producing quality, arthritis or no, especially if s/he has been painting a lifetime. Whose definition of quality, and is technique the only factor or merit?

    The mournful music and repeated drawn-out refrain are what make the feeling apparent in this seemingly less than serious song. ‘Drownded’ is the poor man’s way of making terrible hardships acceptable. I’m with Simon on this one.

  11. muzza says:

    Ref both Fiona’s and Alan’s comments………….I can’t decipher if you liked this or not.

  12. Brian says:

    I loved both the song (which I had not heard before) and Jon’s excellent rendition of it.

  13. Matthew Edwards says:

    @muzza; I don’t know what “tozzing” means either! 🙂 Can somebody enlighten us?

    It’s quite refreshing in a way to have somebody come along to say that they don’t like the songs; no problems there, but all the same I wonder how Fiona Castle measures artistic “quality”.


  14. Morris says:

    … and I have a friend who likes to sing, “It was Willie what got drownded in his own bathtub.”

  15. Jane Ramsden says:

    I think ‘tozzing’ means ‘very good’, though it can also mean to spruce, tidy up or put things straight.

    I’m with Matthew again here. I wasn’t sure whether Fiona liked the song or not. I got the impression that she thought it was bad, but so spruced up by Jon’s singing – tozzed? – that it was good, i.e. she rather liked it, but thought maybe she shouldn’t!

    Ref quality, that could be many of us out the window of social singing by the 97-year-old, arthritic, local artist definition, and the rest ‘drownded’ by the tone deaf!

  16. Jane Ramsden says:

    I just posted a comment and Wiki-link under Brisk Young Widow about Cisco Houston, whom I’d never heard of – where have I been again? – ha ha! The following quotation from that Wiki entry seems to fit in with Fiona’s comment:

    Cisco Houston was distinguished by his voice, a smooth baritone sometimes considered too polished for folk music. His voice was criticised as being too good, too professional, and lacking in authenticity. Cisco responded to this accusation:

    “There’s always a form of theater that things take; even back in the Ozarks, as far as you want to go. People gravitate to the best singer… We have people today who go just the other way, and I don’t agree with them. Some of our folksong exponents seem to think you have to go way back in the hills and drag out the worst singer in the world before it’s authentic. Now, this is nonsense… Just because he’s old and got three arthritic fingers and two strings left on the banjo doesn’t prove anything.”

  17. Jane Ramsden says:

    Not known so much for song-writing, he did pen one called What Did The Deep Sea Say?!!

  18. John Burton says:

    KICKS Pete Seegers ASS.
    I always hated his version, yours is WAY better Jon.

  19. Jane Ramsden says:

    I see the spam filter will have to be tweaked again for those without a civil tongue in their head! And I speak as one very liberal with my language in everyday life, but the above adds nowt to my edification, doesn’t lift my day and doesn’t make me laugh. Don’t inflict it on us, Jane.

  20. Jane Ramsden says:

    Aha! Spam filter (or Admin Simon?) has removed profane comment which was above mine (just in case anyone thinks it was JohnB I was referring to, which it wasn’t.) I’m not prudish or easily shocked, but I thought it was unfair to Pete Seeger, unfair to Jon et al for all their efforts, and unfair on everyone here who works hard to share knowledge, information, experiences and enjoyment of the songs. So thank you very much!

  21. Mags Warren says:

    I would like to hear a version of Deep Blue Sea by Bellowhead, I think it would be brilliant.

  22. Jan says:

    Still love it, and it’s now in the repertoire of Miscellany (me and two friends, with harmonies) thanks to AFSAD!

  23. muzza(s.e.England) says:

    Jan……….when are you and your friends going to do a version and post it on Youtube…don’t forget to give the link to us..within a week perhaps!

  24. John Biggs (Welsh Marches) says:

    As with many other correspondents, A.F.S.A.D. has again dragged a long forgotten song from the recesses of my memory. We used to sing this on caving or mountaineering weekends, in a pub, or around a camp fire, having probably learnt it from The Spinners or Pete Seeger L.P.s, but we never sang it as well as this. Jon’s version raises what is a very simple song, to another level and the concertina is just right.
    Incidentally Jane, the ‘Village Quire’s’ concert at our Harvest weekend was splendid, they just get better and better, and, muzza, Susie was in very fine voice .

  25. muzza(s.e.England) says:

    @John…………..I should jolly well hope that Susie was in fine voice…..she has plenty of time to practise with all that sewing shirts for sailors on the sea shore that she is famed for!

  26. Diana says:

    Well sung Jon but such a sad song. A horrible death by drowning.

  27. Simon says:

    Right-ho! Hello folks. I see the regulars are still chipping away and chipping in, while stats indicate there are a few new faces lurking in the wings, some stayers and some casual dippers. Apologies to all of you for the slight scheduling error – I missed a whole page of December too – the usual case of haste.

    Any road up, to hopefully avoid any more slippage, I’ve rescheduled right through to 23rd of June and the year end, so barring site malfunction hopefully things will unfold as they should for the third time round. Once we get there I’ll see what the will is to continue and make a judgement as to whether to go again, but I suspect diminishing returns. Sttill I imagine there will be a small knot of people forever tied together through this project.

    The Bellowhead album is imminent and briliant. Properganda is out and about and a PDF version is available from the blog, with the guys and gal on the cover and lots of other great stuff inside. You’ll all have your tickets for the tour already I’m sure, but I can’t wait for the London show. I’m taking my daughter to the special launch gig, as she’s become a big fan, even amidst some frankly awful teen temptations. The only thing missing is another New Year’s Eve Special to turn the autumn spectacular into a ferment of BELL-OW-HEEEED! I feel an outbreak of some rather foolish jumping up and down coming on… “Nurse, the screens!”

  28. Diana says:

    A lovely letter from Simon and packed with good information. I am sure there is a knot that will not be untied and after my first yea, roll on the second. You are lucky with your teenager daughter, my son had some good stuff and bad stuff which had to be endured but not he is into Bellowhead and Spiers and Boden and Kerfuffle. Goody!

  29. Diana says:

    I do wish wish there was an edit button on here somewhere then there would not be so many typing errors.

  30. Old Muzza(NW Surrey-UK) says:

    Oh Bliss………… be reminded of this excellent ‘All join in song’….
    you just need one singer to sing the first line and all and sundry pitch in ……..with all sorts of maudlin’ harmonies (you know – the ones we all love)……….
    I am now off to bed and you bet your sweet bippy I’ll either be asleep before I get to verse three…………or will it keep me awake for hours.

  31. Old Muzza(NW Surrey.UK says:

    I still sing this at least once a week..when I go through my songs to keep the old hand in………..never tire of it……..must try and pop it on Youtube

  32. Helen says:

    Jan, the Spinner’s version is the one I know and sing 🙂 But think Mr Boden’s is my new favourite!

  33. Old Muzza(NW Surrey-UK) says:

    Jan…………..Oct 2011……….Looked up ‘Miscellany’ on Youtube(hoping to find your version of ‘Willie Drownded’….aaarrrggghh…… what do I find….
    there is a boy band with the same name (miscellany)and nerry a trace of you gals!!

  34. Old Muzza(N.W.Surrey UK) says:

    Still lovin’ it….still singin’ it!

  35. Anne McGrath says:

    Been singing this since the late 60’s. Got it from the Spinners

  36. old Muzza (NW Surrey) says:

    Still loving it….still singing it..(and I jumped ahead a few days because I couldn’t wait!!)
    Blokes…..I ask yer!!….just like big kids…..well this one is!

  37. Old Muzza (NW Surrey-UK) says:

    Still loving it and singing it!

  38. OLd Muzza(NWSurreyUk) says:

    Couldn’t resist jumping forward yet again….I don’t usually like maudlin’ songs but I just love this one……the virus hasn’t got me yet!

  39. Jane (Maryland, US) says:

    Just a perfect rendition of this song.
    About 150 years ago a Virginia ancestor wrote about someone’s having “drownded.”

  40. OldMuzza(NW SurreyUK) says:

    Another Jane!…..Huzzah… are the first to respond to my nagging over the years to add location when posting a comment….(.oh…just checked back and we do have John in the Welsh Marches.)
    It gives a new dimension to the site when we see how faraway the songs reach.

  41. OldMuzza(NWSurey UK) says:

    Couldn’t resist jumping forward yet again….……One of my favourites!
    the virus hasn’t got me yet!….but now we have Fuel shortages/HGV driver shortages/protesters laying down on the M25/heavy rain and howling winds…..and still I’m singing about poor old Willie’s misfortune!

  42. John Bryson says:

    Muzza, good to see you are hanging in there.

    Those who glue themselves to motorways haven’t reached us here in Leicestershire yet I’m glad to say. Mind you, we’re heading to the south east next week. My Wife is doing a reading at a wedding, and at the age of 66 I am the Best Man. I’m both thrilled and honoured

  43. OldMuzza(NWSurrey UK) says:

    Whoa John….BE careful……down here in the South East….THERE BE DRAGONS! (and no bally fuel!)
    I’m sure you’ll be a fab best man….is it a young groom or one of your old friends jumping over the broom again!

  44. OldMuzza(NWSurreyUK) says:

    Loved the pathos of poor ole Willie getting drownded yet again!

  45. OldMuzza(NW Surrey UK) says:

    Ok Willie….time for another dunking!

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