Bogie's Bonnie Belle

On Springthyme SPRCD 1039
Jock Duncan - Ye Shine Whar Ye Stan!

Perhaps because of its subject matter Bogie's Bonnie Belle has rarely been in print but most traditional singers in the North East have a version in their repertoire. The farmer 'Bogieside o Cairney' or 'Bogie' for short, did not approve when his daughter Belle fell pregnant to one of his feeíd farm servants, and the young lad was 'sent packing withoot a penny o his fee' in spite of his love for Belle and his offer to 'mairry wi Isabella and gie the bairnie his name.' Instead, in a tragicomic turnaround, Belle runs off with a 'tinkler lad wha bides in Huntly toun' and 'wi pots and pans and ladles they scour the country roun.'

The song is based on an event that took place around 1843. In the 1930s George Morris recorded a version rewritten to exclude some of the sexually explicit details but this did nothing to inhibit the survival of the full story in the oral tradition. The song is sung to a variety of rather beautiful tunes.

Brian McNeill - concertina, fiddles; Gordon Duncan - low whistle

1: Ae Witsun fair in Huntly toun, 'twas there I did agree,
Wi auld Bogieside o Cairney, a saxmonth for tae fee;
Tae caw his twa best horses, likewise his cairt or ploo,
And dee onything at fairmwark that I be socht tae do.

2: Noo Bogie hid a dother braw, her name was Isabelle,
The flooer o her nation, there wis neen could her excel;
Wi rosy cheeks and ruby lips an hair a gowden hue,
Oh she was neat, complete an handsome an comely for tae view.

3: Ae nicht she went a ramblin and she socht me for her guide,
Roun by the woods o Cairney and roun by Bogieside;
I slippit my airm around her waist and tae the grun did slide,
And there I spent a lang lee nicht wi the Belle o Bogieside.

4: Noo twenty weeks has passed and gone, that lassie lost her bloom,
The roses fell fae aff her cheeks and sheís began tae swoon;
Noo forty lang weeks has passed an gone, that lass brocht forth a son,
And I was quickly sent for tae see fit could be done.

5: Fen Bogie heard the story, he cried, "I am undone,
Since ye've beguiled my dother my sorrows are begun."
I said, "Aul man, ye're fairly richt, an I hung my heid wi shame,
But I will mairry wi Isabella the morn an I'll gie the bairnie my name."

6: Although I said I'd wad the lass, "Oh no, that widna dee,
Ye're nae a fittin match for Belle, nor she a match for ee." [i.e. for ye
And he sent me packin doun the road wioot a penny o my fee,
Oh come aa ye lads o Cairney side, a last fareweel tae ee.

7: Noo Belle has gaen aff wi a tinkler lad and she bides in Huntly toun,
Wi pots and pans and ladles they scour the country roun;
Wi pots and pans and paraffin lamps, aye, and rousers as well, [i.e. watering can
Aroun aboot be Foggyloan does Bogie's Bonnie Belle.

Jock: There was a lassie o the travelling people - that's her tune - a lassie McPhee. She belonged to Banchory but it wis in Banff that I heard her - at a soiree. It wis more or less a picnic and there wis chapejohns aroun the place an they sell oot bits an pieces and this lassie wis singin that song. I kent aa the song. I kent Morris's an I didna bloody like it, an I kent a lot o ither eens. I decided tae tak it doun, tae write doun her een. An she gied me the notes [the words] o the last verse, which I thocht wis better nor onything.

c p 1996 Springthyme Records :