Mudcat Café Message Lyrics & Knowledge Personal Pages Record Shop Auction Links Radio & Media Kids Membership Help
The Mudcat Cafeawe



User Name Thread Name Subject Posted
GUEST,Karen Origin: Saint James Infirmary Blues (286* d) RE: Origin: Saint James Infirmary Blues 17 Nov 17


Steve Gardham

Thanks for this contribution, which is the sort of information I am looking for, even though once again we have drawn a blank on direct evidence for an ancestor called the Unfortunate Rake. I too have seen the version with the gap in. Carrots also has Lock Hospital and is called The Unfortunate Lad, as I am sure you know. (National Library of Scotland web site, version, they think, printed in Durham).


That makes two of us unable to find any broadsheet versions with 'The Unfortunate Rake' in the title. This is one reason why I believe that A L Lloyd was singing a composite song on the famous Folkways LP; one of the things he 'composited' was the title, which his articles show he was aware of, but provide no reference to. On the contrary his second article cites the Such version, which was 'Lad' and 'lock'. But by this time he was convinced that St James Infirmary was a descendent, via the Dewey version collected by Sharp, as his articles show. He also believed that that there had been a version called 'the Unfortunate Rake'. Where did he get this idea?

I think you have hit the nail on the head, as I too followed references back. The article called Songs from the Kidson Collection I think you are referring to? Checking back I think the authors were Kidson and Lucy Broadwood, to be precise? This is the article where I found the reference to Crosby which I gave above.

I printed off the 'air' called The Unfortunate Rake, and have studied it briefly. I have compared it with the tune of My Jewel My Joy and with the tune of Streets of Loredo. Not like either at all in my view. Unlike most other candidates for an ancestor of St James, it is the A B form. For people not familiar with this usage, it means that the melody has two distinct parts. When playing such a tune for a dance, sometimes you have to play one A then 2 Bs, or some such formula. Even without part repeats, the tune is twice as long as My Jewel My Joy. Both parts of Rake are in 6/8 and in E minor. Crosby has printed words under the tune, as follows, in case people are interested. Alert, there may be the odd typo

OH! many a mountain I wearily measure, and
far have I wander'd on Erin's green shore, This
harp is my o-ly companion and treasure, When
welcomes at sweet hos-pi-ta--li-ty's door.
Then list, gentle youth, while I sing you a
dit-ty I learnt in dear Connaught, the
soil of my birth: Ye maidens attend, whilst the
tear drop of pi-ty shall fall like a crystalline
gem to the earth.

May I make a general point about the ballad form. Ballads usually followed a general 'genre' which had some variations in numbers of stressed syllables per line. This song has four stresses per line (they sing crystalline quickly, slightly irregular here perhaps) and four lines per part. In 6\8 like Rake, you get two bars per line: in 3\4 you might get four bars per line (making 16 bars overall, a classic ballad musical form) in Streets of Loredo; four stresses per line, four lines per verse. Yes, one can often sing one set of words to different tunes; this is because the ballads came in a set genre, and in my view, not necessarily evidence that the song probably was sing to any tune that had that musical form.

I guess he (the harpist) is fed up because he's got the clap? Or maybe not :) But these words do fit the tune as written closely. I hope this answers the person above who found it difficult to believe that the 1808 version of The Unfortunate Rake did not 'carry' the words of the Unfortunate Lad, though as I am not sure what 'carry' means I cannot be sure.

No title is given for the words, as opposed to the 'air', but the whole is entitled 'The Unfortunate Rake'. And this is the 1808 one mentioned in the literature.

I haven't looked up the other reference from the Kidson/Broadwood article yet. It is Holden's Irish airs.


On Riplington Gardens, I have seen this article. It maybe that the 'gardens' bit goes back to an earlier version from London, set in Covent Garden. There is a Riplingham in Yorkshire; and a place called Riplington somewhere else. So your guess on this is as good as any!

Broadside ballad sheets were printed in Ireland. Now one web site I looked at recently (cannot recall which one) claimed that the Unfortunate Rake was an Irish broadside, in which case somebody must have evidence somewhere to support this assertion (though no link or reference was provided on that web site. I can find a few examples on line but not yet an index searchable for one about the unfortunate rake. I cannot find an Unfortunate Rake here, for example: http://itmacatalogues.ie/Default/en-GB/Search/AdvancedSearch

Brian Peters

I have never knowingly argued that all version with the words St James in derive from the jazz standard. I cannot be bothered to try to work out where you go that idea from. What I have said is that versions of what became known as the jazz standard were widespread i
prior to the release and copyrighting by Irving Mills of that version, and in saying that I was relying on the research of Harwood. Thank you and goodbye.


Post to this Thread -

Back to the Main Forum Page

By clicking on the User Name, you will requery the forum for that user. You will see everything that he or she has posted with that Mudcat name.

By clicking on the Thread Name, you will be sent to the Forum on that thread as if you selected it from the main Mudcat Forum page.
   * Click on the linked number with * to view the thread split into pages (click "d" for chronologically descending).

By clicking on the Subject, you will also go to the thread as if you selected it from the original Forum page, but also go directly to that particular message.

By clicking on the Date (Posted), you will dig out every message posted that day.

Try it all, you will see.