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GUEST,Guest Origins: Bonnie Wee Jeanie McColl (15) RE: Origins: Bonnie Wee Jeanie McColl 18 Nov 18


"She Was the Bell of the Ball", also known as “Bonnie, Wee Jeannie McColl”, this song comes from the Scottish Music Hall. This song (lyrics) 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.

Will Fyffe paired his lyrics with an Irish double-jig tune called the “Book of Rights”. He wrote it for his performances in Scottish music halls.

Origins of Scottish Music halls:
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, cabarets, and vaudeville – depending on the owner and 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.


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