St James Infirmary

Charles Cowling


Great intro music. 

 

I went down to the St. James Infirmary
I saw my baby there,
Streched out on a cold white table,
So sweet, so cold, so fair.

So Let her go, let her go, God bless her;
Wherever she may be 
She may search this wide world over
but she’ll never find a sweet man like me.

When I die, want you to dress me in straght laced shoes
A box back coat and a Stetson hat;
Put a twenty-dollar gold piece on my watch chain
So the boys know I died standin’ pat. 

6 thoughts on “St James Infirmary

  1. Charles Cowling
    Vale

    Just found this from Wole Soyinka’s In the small hours. It seemed to fit here:

    Departures linger. Absences do not
    Deplete the tavern. They hang over the haze
    As exhalations from receded shores. Soon,
    Night repossesses the silence, but till dawn
    The notes hold sway, smoky
    Epiphanies, possessive of the hours.

    This music’s plaint forgives, redeems
    The deafness of the world. Night turns
    Homewards, sheathed in notes of solace, pleats
    The broken silence of the heart.


    Charles Cowling
  2. Charles Cowling
    gloria mundi

    I think, James, it is derived from the family of British folk songs known as “the young man cut down in his prime,” and another American song from that family is “The Streets of Laredo.” Clearly, it crossed the Atlantic in very good health – unlike the subject of the song…Your stanza is excellent, and it does tend to get missed out of the jazzers’ version.


    Charles Cowling
  3. Charles Cowling
    james

    Spare a thought and major hat-tip for the (English) writer of these fantatsic lyrics – changed over time, but here’s an oft missed verse that’ll do me.

    I want six crapshooters for my pallbearers
    Three chorus girls to sing me a song
    Put a jazz band on my hearse wagon
    To raise hell as we’re rolling along.

    Dave Van Ronk, Jack Elliott, Janis Joplin, almost anyone can sing this for me; they all make it a rich mix of pathos and spirited existence.
    It’s the words and the tune – the ideas – that sing.
    Not to take anything away from the great Mr A. who is sublime.


    Charles Cowling
  4. Charles Cowling
    gloria mundi

    Vale, it’s probably difficult to realise now, three generations later, just how much of a groundbreaker he was, don’t you think? In his way, “avant-garde” for a while. The whole Great Entertainer/Ambassador for Jazz stuff can get in the way. Records like West End Blues must have astonished people when it first came out. (Weather Bird, with Earl Hines?) He opened so many doors. Yes, an undisputed genius. I envy you your recent discovery – fresh sounds and fresh ears, for music of such beauty and power! At a funeral? Couldn’t be bettered.


    Charles Cowling
  5. Charles Cowling
    Vale

    I only ‘found’ Louis Armstrong relatively recently – but admire him now as a true musical genius. I’ve found myself wondering recently if it would be wrong to have Louis play all the music at my own funeral – West End Blues, St James here, but my favourite and the one I will certainly have is Louis playing ‘The Sunny Side of the Street’ – breathtaking!


    Charles Cowling
  6. Charles Cowling
    gloria mundi

    Cut my jazz teeth on this over half a century ago now, wouldn’t mind going out to it too. Pops, you did it again. Some gift, to be solemn, lamenting, and amused all at the same time….


    Charles Cowling

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