The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #46310   Message #3889437
Posted By: Brian Peters
20-Nov-17 - 08:55 AM
Thread Name: Origin: Saint James Infirmary Blues
Subject: RE: Origin: Saint James Infirmary Blues
Thank you, Karen.

"I would add that there is also some room for questioning whether there was ever a version of these lyrics specifically entitled by their singers 'The Unfortunate Rake'. "

As far as I can see, most traditional singers titled their songs by first line or chorus. It was the collectors who allocated titles according to Child's nomenclature or their own invention, and tried to stick to them to identify variants as members of a family, rather as Steve Roud's numbering system has done for us more recently (and a lot more reliably).

For instance, Cecil Sharp insisted on calling Appalachian examples of Roud 15 'Cruel Ship's Carpenter' when I suspect the locals called it 'Pretty Polly'. But that did at least mean he placed it in the same bracket as the English song of that name.