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The Bells of Hell Go Ting-a-ling-a-ling

"The Bells of Hell Go Ting-a-ling-a-ling" is a British airmen's song from World War I, which was created around 1911.[1]

It is apparently a parody of another popular song of the time entitled "She Only Answered 'Ting-a-ling-a-ling'".[2] It is featured in the Brendan Behan's play The Hostage (1958)[3] and the musical film Oh! What a Lovely War (1969).

Contents

LyricsEdit

The lyrics are:

The Bells of Hell go ting-a-ling-a-ling
For you but not for me:
For me the angels sing-a-ling-a-ling,
They've got the goods for me.
Oh! Death, where is thy sting-a-ling-a-ling?
Oh! Grave, thy victory?
The Bells of Hell go ting-a-ling-a-ling
For you but not for me.

Lines five and six quote St Paul's words on the resurrection in 1 Corinthians 15: 55, used in the burial service: "O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?"[1] There are alternate, darker lyrics for the third and fourth lines, used in the original stage musical Oh, What a Lovely War!:

And the little devils all sing-aling-aling
For you but not for me

The Behan version is:[3]

The Bells of Hell go ting-a-ling-a-ling
For you but not for me:
Oh! Death, where is thy sting-a-ling-a-ling?
Oh! Grave, thy victory?
If you meet the undertaker,
Or the young man from the Pru,
Get a pint with what's left over,
Now I'll say good-bye to you.

Piece of CakeEdit

The song features in the 1988 London Weekend Television series Piece of Cake (TV series) about an RAF fighter squadron in the Phoney War.

1966 filmEdit

A 1966 Mirisch Productions World War I war film with the title The Bells of Hell go Ting-a-ling-a-ling starring Gregory Peck and Ian McKellen, directed by David Miller and with a screenplay by Roald Dahl, was abandoned after five weeks filming in Switzerland.[4] The film, depicting the air raid on the Zeppelin base at Friedrichshafen, was abandoned after early snow in the Alps.[5]

A Perfect HeroEdit

This song was also used for the opening and end credits to A Perfect Hero, a 1991 TV miniseries set in World War II England.

Tequila Vampire MatineeEdit

The first two lines are also used in "Bells of Hell" a song from Kevin Quain's Tequila Vampire Matinee with "you" being replaced with "thee."

The Bells of Hell go ting-a-ling-a-ling
For thee but not for me

Salvation ArmyEdit

Though usually associated with World War I, and apparently parodying the earlier song "She Only Answered 'Ting-a-ling-a-ling'" the song apparently also has links with the Salvation Army, as referenced in "The Mixer and Server, Volume 20" of 1911: "In London, the Salvation Army lassies and other street-praying bands are singing a song that has become universally popular in the crowded sections of the city." [6] It is notable that the lyrics of this Salvation Army version differ slightly both from the established "angels" version and the "devils" version in Oh, What a Lovely War!:

The bells of hell go ding-aling-ling
For you, but not for me;
The sweet-voiced angels sing-a-ling-ling
Through all eternity.
Oh, death, where is thy sting-a-ling-ling;
Oh, grave, thy victory!
No ding-a-ling-ling, no sting-a-ling-ling.
But sing-a-ling-ling for me.

In popular cultureEdit

"The bells of hell go ding-a-ling-a-ling" is also the last line in the song by the Pogues, "My Blue Heaven."

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b Tyler, Don (2016). Music of the First World War. ABC-CLIO. p. 22. ISBN 9781440839962. 
  2. ^ Max Arthur (2001) When This Bloody War Is Over. London, Piatkus: 63
  3. ^ a b Mary Luckhurst, ed. (2006). A companion to modern British and Irish drama, 1880-2005. Malden, MA [etc.]: Blackwell. p. 252. ISBN 1405122285. 
  4. ^ "The Bells of Hell Go Ding-a-ling-a-ling (1966) | BFI". Ftvdb.bfi.org.uk. Retrieved 2014-08-21. 
  5. ^ [1][dead link]
  6. ^ "http://mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=49675".  External link in |title= (help)