The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #46310   Message #3887599
Posted By: Richard Mellish
08-Nov-17 - 05:19 PM
Thread Name: Origin: Saint James Infirmary Blues
Subject: RE: Origin: Saint James Infirmary Blues
I've just ordered a copy of the Harwood book, possibly for myself but more likely to read and then pass on to a friend whose repertoire includes the SJI Blues. I look forward to reading a closely researched analysis of the mixing and matching of the various elements.

Meanwhile . . .

Whenever I have heard the song I have perceived the same incongruity as discussed by others above, between the girl being dead and the "search the wide world over" line. I find the notion of her spirit in the afterlife searching for another man hard to swallow. I would prefer to regard at least that line, if not the whole of that verse, as having crept in from another song.

As for the song's descent from The Unfortunate Rake; apart from the St James reference, which is now looking somewhat dubious, the only other common element seems to be the requests for the funeral, and the resemblance there is hardly a close one. (But it's no more tenuous that the alleged connection between The Derby Ram and Didn't He Ramble, mentioned way up thread by Greg Stephens and something I remember Tom Paley also quoting when he sang the latter song.)