The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #46310 Message #3888580
Posted By: GUEST,Karen
14-Nov-17 - 01:32 PM
Thread Name: Origin: Saint James Infirmary Blues
Subject: RE: Origin: Saint James Infirmary Blues
Hello, Jim, and thanks.
I looked at the version from the Clare web site. Tom Lenihan, The site states that the version was collected in 1976, which is nearly half a century after Armstrong and also post dates the Goldstein Folkways LP. It is an interesting set of lyrics, but for me it isn't evidence that the song has an Irish origin. To give an analogy, I might have arranged and sung it in Wales at about that time, but that would not prove it to be Welsh.
The web site has some notes, not all of which, frustratingly, but not surprisingly, come with references one can check. I have read some of the pieces listed there: I guess the Newfoundland one will come down to Machenzie in Nova Scotia again. The Irish examples are all late ie well after 1930.
Frustratingly again, the web site here states that the original song was called 'The Unfortunate Rake' in its early 19th century Irish version. Was it? If so then why oh why have I been unable to find any evidence to support this assertion? There is certainly a tune with that name, printed several times in early 20th century collections of Irish tunes, and an early English folk song society article conjectures with no evidence that the lyrics The Unfortunate Lad may have been sung to that tune at some time, but this is pure conjecture. What I am looking for is evidence.
Regarding Lock hospitals, there were such hospitals in Dublin and Cork as I understand it. But if interested you could check that by googling, so I won't look up a reference on that now. But the Contagious disease Acts did apply.