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The Pearl Diver

Learned from the singing of
family friend Dennis Puleston
of Brookhaven, Long Island, NY, in the 1950's

Tune: Music Hall

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Rich men who go to Tiffany's
Buying treasures for their girls,
Little dream of all the perils
Of those who dive for pearls.
See the diver in the ocean
Fighting with the octopus,
While the cruel sharks lie waiting,
Saying: "Here's a meal for us!"

And the rich man drives by
In his car-ri-age and pair,
Little does he care,
Little does he care,
Though the diver cries "Help!"
He heedeth him not
But tells his man in livery
"Drive on at a trot!"

Quickly the life-boat
Puts out from the shore
But it's too late,
He meets a cruel fate;
And in the shark's inner organs
He breaths a last prayer,
While the rich man drives by
In his car-ri-age and pair.

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A friend wishes to identify a song he heard on Australian radio in the 1930's about a balloon seller containing the lines:

"See the poor girl in the gutter
Overcome by London's fumes
Crying while the snowflakes flutter
Wont you buy my air balloons"

and with the refrain:

"Rich man rides by in his carriage and pair"

I am hoping that someone with an interest in British Music Hall or vaudeville will recognise the tune and tell me where I can find a copy. Any help or guidance will be appreciated.

I am also sending messages via the websites

Brian Bingley

Maybe written by Bob Weston and Bert Lee.

Subject: RE: Lyr Req: fwd: help identify music hall song
From: Billy Weeks - PM
Date: 05 Apr 04 - 06:36 AM

From memory (and it is very singable):

The Rich Man Rides By

(Attributed to Bob Weston and Bert Lee)

Mr William Shakespeare told us
Back in 1594
It's the rich what helps the rich
But it's the poor what helps the poor;
See the poor girl in the gutter
Morning, evening, afternoons,
Hear her stumble, see her stutter
'Won't you buy my air balloons?'

While the rich man rides by in his carr-I-age and pair.
What does he care? What does he care?
As the girl sells her airballs around London town
Crying 'eaven 'ellup me, I can't 'old them down'.
Up she flies straight to the 'evinly gate,
But there she can't stop,
Her airballs go pop;
She falls with a wallop in Lei-ces-ter Square
And the rich man rides by in his carriage and pair.

Verse is in 4/4. Chorus is in waltz time. Note that 'carriage' where it first occurs has three syllables. Americans will have no problem pronouncing 'Leicester' with three syllables. That's the way all American visitors do it. But all of this - and the transposition of 'stumble' and 'stutter' in the verse - mark it out as a music hall song of the 1920s. It was recorded in 1926 by the seaside concert party artist Clarkson Rose on the Zonophone label as 'While the Rich Man Drives By' and reissued later on the cheap Ariel label. It has at least one other verse, but I can't find it in the BL catalogue or in Kilgarriff's great index.

This song has nothing to do (except in genre) with 'She Was Poor' or 'Won't You Buy my Pretty flowers.'

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