The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #20256   Message #688954
Posted By: Dicho (Frank Staplin)
12-Apr-02 - 11:55 PM
Thread Name: Tune Req: St. James Infirmary Blues

It was down in old Joe's bar-room
On a corner by the square,
The drinks were served as usual,
And a goodly crowd was there.

On my left stood Joe McKenny,
His eyes bloodshot and red,
He gazed at the crowd around him
And these are the words he said:

"As I passed by the old infirmary,
I saw my sweetheart there,
All stretched out on a table,
So pale, so cold, so fair.

Sixteen coal-black horses,
All hitched to a rubber-tired hack,
Carried seven girls to the graveyard,
An' only six of 'em comin' back.

O, when I die, just bury me
In a box-back coat and hat,
Put a twenty dollar gold piece on my watch chain
To let the Lord know I'm standin' pat.

Six crap shooters as pall bearers,
Let a chorus girl sing me a song
With a jazz band on my hearse
To raise hell as we go along."

And now you've heard my story,
I'll take another shot of booze;
If anybody happens to ask you,
Then I've got those gambler's blues.

Coll. Henry McCarthy, Univ. Alabama, and included in Sandburg, Carl, 1927, The American Songbag, pp. 228-231, with music. This version is more satisfactory than the one in the DT Under St. James Infirmary, and tells a unified story.

A shortened version in in thread 46314, Coal-black
The song was very popular in 1928-1930, and was recorded by Cab Calloway, Louis Armstrong and the Savoy Five, and the Ten Black Pennies among others. All of these are shortened versions of the song given above, with a few word changes. Cab Calloway: "...bury me in my straight-leg britches, Put on a box-back coat and a Stetson hat." Louis Armstrong: "Bury me in my straight-lace shoes."