The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #46310   Message #3887694
Posted By: Brian Peters
09-Nov-17 - 09:48 AM
Thread Name: Origin: Saint James Infirmary Blues
Subject: RE: Origin: Saint James Infirmary Blues
Richard Mellish wrorte:
"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.)"

I see a link in both cases (St. James is present in several widespread traditional versions long predating Lloyd, even though apparently not in the UK), but they represent radical rewrites, rather than simple evolution. The history of 'Didn't He Ramble' is pretty well documented (see Randolph's'Unprintable Ozark Folksongs' and previous Mudcat threads); 'Derby Ram' variants with that chorus were popular in the US South (especially with black singers, it seems), and a 1902 rewrite was claimed by James Weldon Johnson in collaboration with one Bob Cole.