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Down Among the Dead Men

[ Roud V5128 ; John Dyer (1700-1758) ]

Dead men, or dead soldiers, are empties, usually adorning the floor under a festive table.

The Devil’s Interval sang Down Among the Dead Men in 2006 on their WildGoose Blood & Honey. They noted:

This song rouses our hedonistic tendencies, whilst maintaining our feminist sensibilities. Emily [Portman] found Down Among the Dead Men in [John Liptrot Hatton’s] The Songs of England Vol. 1 [London: Boosey & Co, ca 1875, pp. 138-9] in a dusty second-hand bookshop. It is credited to John Dyer ‘around 1700’ and as Emily couldn’t decipher the melody she made up a new one.

Tim Jones and the Dark Lanterns sang Down Among the Dead Men on their 2017 CD Blossom & Fruit.

Mawkin sang Down Among the Dead Men as the title track of their 2018 album Down Among the Dead Men. They noted:

A toast to the Roman god Bacchus—the god of wine, spiritual ecstasy, ritual madness and theatre—these are a few of our favourite things… To quote Wikipedia, “dead men” is a term for empty bottles and the expression to “lie down among the dead men” means to get so drunk as to slip from one’s chair and land under the table where the empty bottles have been discarded. The band wishes not to comment.

Note: Paul Downes sang another song with the same title, Down Among the Dead Men, written by Mick Ryan, in 2011 on Ryan’s folk opera The Pauper’s Path to Hope and in 2013 on his own WildGoose CD The Boatman’s Cure.


The Devil’s Interval sing Down Among the Dead Men

Here’s a health to the King and a lasting peace,
To faction an end, to wealth increase;
Come, let’s drink while we have breath
For there’s no drinking after death.
And he that will this health deny,

Chorus (after each verse):
Down among the dead men,
Down among the dead men,
Down among the dead men let him lie.

Let charming beauty’s health go round
In whom celestial joys are found;
May confusion still pursue,
The selfish woman-hating crew,
And he that woman’s health deny,

In smiling Bacchus’ joys I’ll roll,
Deny no pleasure to my soul;
Let Bacchus’ health round briskly move,
For Bacchus is the friend to love.
And he that will this drink deny,

May love and wine their rights maintain,
And their united pleasure reign;
While Bacchus’ treasure crowns the board,
We’ll sing the joy that both afford.
And they that won’t with us comply,