From the album Two To Get Ready

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Will Fyffe

Mark Clavey: lead vocals, guitar
Mary Hanover: vocals, hammered dulcimer
Rachel Gaither-Vaughan: vocals, fiddle

Also known as “Bonnie, Wee Jeannie McColl”, this song comes from the Scottish Music Hall. In the 1830s, entertainment in the saloon bar began to grow in popularity… two decades later, it would blossom into the music hall… another four decades would see it evolve into burlesque, cabaret, and vaudeville – depending on the owner, the part of town and the hall. The music hall style comprised a variety of entertainment – popular songs of the day, comedy, dance, drama and melodrama (to a lesser degree), and specialty acts - male and female impersonators, lions comiques, mimes, impressionists, trampoline acts, &c. And the music hall atmosphere was less refined – patrons were seated at tables, and could drink and smoke. After WWI, the music hall went into a decline that would last for another forty years before the genre finally died out. Our song was written and recorded in 1929 by Will Fyffe – an actor, singer, songwriter, comic, and impersonator. Born in Dundee in 1885, Will became a character-actor in his father’s touring company, appearing in productions of Shakespeare around Scotland. He wrote many songs that were popular in his time – the most famous being “I Belong To Glasgow” and “Sailing Up the Clyde”. And he became such a well-rounded and well-known performer that a variety theatre in Glasgow once ran a 'Will Fyffe' competition. The great joker that he was, he entered the contest for a bet, heavily disguised, and took second place. He was a young 62 when he passed away in 1947. We’ve paired the song with an Irish double-jig called the “Book of Rights”.

Lyrics

She’s a fine, wee lass, a bonnie, wee lass, is bonnie, wee Jeannie McCall. I gave her my mother’s engagement ring and a bonnie, wee tartan shawl. And I met her at a wedding in Cooperative Hall – I was the best man, she was the belle of the ball.

I feel a different chap today – the reason is because a bonnie, wee lassie’s in love with me, and I didna think she was. But I went and popped the question, and I nearly passed away when she put her hand around my neck and named the happy day.

And she’s a fine, wee lass, &c

The very first time I met her she was awfully, awfully shy. The rain came pouring down, but she was happy, so was I. We ran like mad for shelter, and we landed up the stair. The rain came pouring into my breeks, but och, I didna care.

And she’s a fine, wee lass, &c

Now I’ve wed my bonnie Jeannie, and the bairnies – we hae three – two daughters, and a braw wee lad who sits upon my knee. They’re right wee, holy terrors, they’re never still for long. But they sit back, and they listen close whenever I sing my song.

And she’s a fine, wee lass, &c