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GUEST,Karen Help: The Unfortunate Rake (116* d) RE: Help: The Unfortunate Rake 29 Jun 18


Wow! I had believed that this verse came from another song, I think Robert Harwood (in his I Went Down To St James Infirmary) says this, but I did not realise that it appeared so many times, and all over the place. I think I can add a few more to the list.

For example, Harwood cites a 1908 'Songs of the Cowboys' edited by Jack Thorp, which includes Loredo/Cowboy's Lament type songs including one with this verse:

My curse let it rest, let it rest on the fair one
Who drove me from friends that I loved and from home
Who told me she loved me just to receive me
My curse rest on her wherever she roam.

I guess Harwood is pointing out the 'wherever she roam' bit.

Then he cites a later, longer version of the same volume, dated 1966 Eds A & A Fife. In that there appears a song called 'St James Infirmary', allegedly sent in a letter dated 1926 from Terence Mackay to Thomas Winslow Gordon (who is famous...). This should have been in my chronology..

The song starts with St James Infirmary, and the 2nd verse is

If she's gone, let her go God bless her
For she's mine wherever she may be
You may search this wide world over
You'll never find such a one as she.

The phrasing of that sounds a bit 'literary' to me in terms of its diction/grammar. Where I wonder did MacKay get it?

The song ends with a reference to hell and the need for ice to cool him when he gets there, linking across to Crapshooters'

In 1925 Texas, according to an informant of collector Dorothy Scarborough, a song about 'John Seley's Hospital' had a verse along similar lines, and was widely sung by African Americans. NB I once looked into this and discovered that while the cowboys in the films we used to see where almost always white, there were in fact a great many African-American cowboys, often descendents of slaves used in the business who therefore had skills and could get work.

Harwood says a song called She's Gone, Let Her Go appeared in a 1902 Harvard University Glee Club book. Harvard, the home of Child etc etc. He says this is a 'parlour song'.

Harwood says a lot more. It's an interesting read.

Did I say that 'sweet man' as in St James is sometimes said to be a term for a 'pimp'. Probably. Sorry for repetition if so. I wonder what Armstrong sang when he was not on his best behaviour for the recording companies.

Excuse typos, typing quickly with book on knee.

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