Henry's Songbook

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Betsy Bell

  • Trad

    Oh, my name is Betsy Bell, in the Gallowgate I dwell
    Nae doot you wonder what I'm daein' here
    I'm looking for a man, be he old or be he young
    And onything in breeks would dae for me

    It was on a Tuesday night, I met wi' Sandy Wright
    He asked me tae be his lovin' bride
    Well, I didnae let him see I was desperate as could be
    When I asked him to come awa' inside

    He jumped at the chance, and we had a quick romance
    I named the happy day there and then
    But when I bought the weddin' frock he said, Lass, it's all a joke
    Och, I wonder what's ado wi' a' the men

    Noo if there's anybody here would like a nice wee dear
    Although I'm only three score and ten
    Be he young, be he old, curley-heided, fringed or bald
    I wonder what's ado wi' a' the men

    As sung by Iain MacKintosh

Susannes Folksong-Notizen

  • [1978:] Ray Fisher was Iain's source for this humorous little song, although Belle Stewart also sings it. Probably this song has a music-hall origin. (Notes Iain MacKintosh & Hamish Imlach, 'A Man's A Man')

    [1984:] Belle picked these words [a longer version] up as a penny broadsheet in 'The Poet's Box', a little shop in the Overgate, Dundee, when she was about 12 years old. (This was during the first World War, which destroyed almost a whole generation of young men and left some two million women on the shelf.) [...]
    I asked Belle if she was sorry for the old maid; she replied that she knew many of that ilk today who had chosen not to marry and had plenty of boy-friends anyway. She agreed that Betsy Bell did not come into this category, and thought that behind the laughter with which people always received this song there was a good deal of sympathy and pity. [...]
    Betsy Bell is a genuine antique of the Scottish music hall. It is rarely sung except by the Stewarts of Blair, and especially Belle herself - in fact Belle's personality is one of the chief clues to the popularity of this ditty. [...] With a different singer it could well turn into a slice of black humour. (Munro, Revival 122f)

    [1986:] This song would have been at one time very popular throughout Scotland. Jeannie Robertson used to sing [...] a Glasgow version [in the Gallowgate I dwell; orig.: Overgate (Dundee)], and according to Ray Fisher, 'she'd pick out some poor, innocent male listener and sing directly to him, and he would blush with embarrassment.' The Poets' Box also had a lengthy version. Belle Stewart also helped to make this song popular. (Gatherer 97)

    [1986:] Songs which combine the couthy sentimentality of the kailyard with a standardised comic dialect were the stock-in-trade of Scots music-hall performers right up until the late 1930s. [...] Betsy Bell would appear to be a typical product of that period. (MacColl/Seeger, Doomsday 265)


Quelle: Scotland

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aktualisiert am 02.04.2010, 08.09.99