The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #46310   Message #687749
Posted By: greg stephens
11-Apr-02 - 07:22 AM
Thread Name: Origin: Saint James Infirmary Blues
Subject: RE: History of Saint James Infirmary Blues?
There are lots of other threads about this, not all of them accessible to me,so apologies if any comments I make are duplicated elsewhere. (1) The name: St James Hospital in Liverpool comes up a lot as the most likely candidate. (2) The words: British/Irish (no way of deciding which cme first and there never will be, so feelfree to follow your own prejudices). A huge variety of songs (typical title "Young Sailor cut down in his prime" in which a friend of the narrator of the song has died and is given a stylised funeral.The cause of death various from war to drowning to "social diseases" to generised results of unspecified loose living.English versions generally have 4 stresses in each line, like the American version"Streets of Laredo".St James Infirmary has 3 stresses per line. (3) the story: much of the power of St James Ifirmary seems to lie in the extreme vagueness of the story line, much more "stream of consciousness"" than the clearer English versions. It's often by no meams clear whether a singer is referring to the death of the girl on the slab or his/her own departure, in different parts of the song. I know, because I often sing the song, how easy it is to change the feel of the song by minor changes and omissions in the verses (surely a hallmark of a folksong!). (everything seems to be grinding to a halt, electronically speaking, I'll send this off and start again).