When Old Bill Bailey Plays the Ukalele
In this song, recorded by the extremely popular vaudeville singer Nora Bayes, Bill Bailey is older and has moved to Hawaii, where he takes up the Ukulele. Bayes aimed to cash on the fad for Hawaiian music which started around 1910, while also associating Bailey with “ragtime,” another extremely popular fad of the era. The song combines lingering minstrel stereotypes with images of Hula girls and swaying palms: it mentions “suffragettes” who fail to convert “those gals of brown” because of Bailey’s music. Notice the instrumental opening, which includes the typical exaggerated pitch bends starting at 9 seconds, or when Bayes sings “miles around” at about 27 seconds. Bayes herself was in "Irishface," in the sense that she was born Rachel Goldberg and adopted the Irish sounding "Nora Bayes" as her stage name.