Down by the Bay

"Down By the Bay" is a traditional children's song. A famous version was performed by Raffi and appears on his 1976 album Singable Songs for the Very Young; it is his signature song. In an interview with the Vulture Newsletter, Raffi described it as being “An old, old song", saying that "It may have been a World War I song ... It came from England.” [1] A Greek folk song called "Γιαλό, γιαλό" ("γιαλό" meaning "bay" or "seaside") exists with this same melody.[2] It is an Ionian Cantada, a style of folk music that originated in the late 19th century.[2] Thus, the actual origin of this song may be uncertain.

"Down by the Bay"
Traditional folk song
GenreChildren's song
Writtenc. 1914–1918

In recent years, it has gained popularity as a campfire song among the Scouting Movement in Britain. Another version of the song is "Down by the Sea." The chorus from this was used by the folk band, Fiddler's Dram, in their song "Johnny John."[3]

The song lyrics are usually as follows:

Down by the bay,
Where the watermelons grow,
Back to my home,
I dare not go,
For if I do,
My mother will say:

Usually, the insertion lyrics follow some kind of variation of the question "Did/(Have) you ever see(n) a _____ _____ing a _____?", with the first and last blank rhyming. For example:

The song can be ended with the following line:

  • "Did you ever have a time when you couldn't make a rhyme?"

Each of the rhyming lines is followed by the ending line:

  • "Down by the bay?"


  1. ^ Heti, Sheila (December 20, 2015). "Finding Raffi". Vulture.
  2. ^ a b Μόσχος, Κώστας; Τουμπακάρη, Nάνση; Τόμπλερ, Μιχάλης (2003). "ΚΑΝΤΑΔΕΣ ΚΑΙ ΠΑΛΑΙΟΤΕΡΑ ΕΛΑΦΡΑ ΤΡΑΓΟΥΔΙΑ" [Cantades and older light songs]. In Σωτηροπούλου-Ζορμπαλά, Μαρίνα; Παναγιωτίδης, Παναγιώτης; Ζαχαριάδου, Μυρτώ (eds.). Μουσικό Ανθολόγιο [Musical Anthology] (PDF) (in Greek). Athens, Greece: Oργανισμός εκδόσεων διδακτικών βιβλίων. Ινστιτούτο Έρευνας Μουσικής & Ακουστικής. pp. 77–78.
  3. ^ "Johnny John [Fiddler's Dram". YouTube. 2012-04-05. Archived from the original on 2021-12-21. Retrieved 2020-03-21.