The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #46310   Message #3887579
Posted By: Lighter
08-Nov-17 - 02:15 PM
Thread Name: Origin: Saint James Infirmary Blues
Subject: RE: Origin: Saint James Infirmary Blues
John and Alan Lomax collected a remarkable version of "The Cowboy's Lament" from "Iron Head," a sixty-three-year-old African-American convict in the Central State Prison Farm at Sugarland, Texas, in December 1933.

The text in the Lomaxes' "Cowboy Songs" (1938) begins,

It was early one mornin' as I passed St. James Hospital,
It was early one mornin', mornin' month o' May.

In the available recording, however,

line one is missing. Whether the recording started late, or whether the Lomaxes added line one to regularize the stanza, is impossible to know.

"Iron Head's" version seems almost like a missing link between the broadsides and "The Streets of Laredo."