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User Name Thread Name Subject Posted
GUEST,Karen Help: The Unfortunate Rake (116* d) RE: Help: The Unfortunate Rake 20 Jun 18


Lloyd does provide arguments of a sort, but not evidence of the direct line of descent of the sort that Harwood seems to be requiring.

He notes that several versions of St James Inf. have been copyrighted at various times.

His view of St James Infirmary is basically that it has problems. He says it has 'more of the feel of folksong than is usual with a jazz number'. He says that it is often taken for granted that it is an original 'Negro song', but that it is clearly a narrative ballad. He asserts that the form is rare in 'true American Negro song'(whatever that might be, some sort of 'purity' seems to be in his mind here).

He then says, and I quote so you can judge the tone for yourself,

"Most versions of 'Infirmary' include a number of stanzas from other songs, drafted on to the main stem - a confusion especially current among Negros. The curious switchover from the actual dath of the girl to the hypothetical death of the gambler creates some ambiguity too."

He then skips to 'The Dying Cowboy' asking why a cowboy should be requesting a military funeral.

He then links the Dewey/Sharp Laura Donald song with both St James Infirmary and the Streets, via the St James hospital reference and the drum and fife burial. He also brings in the Novia Scotia version, saying it is almost identical with the Kidson and Lucy Broadwood song.


Then he mentions the Such broadside, claiming that this is the origin of the opening verses of the Kidson Broadwood songs.


Lloyd then claims to have solved the 'problems' he found with Laredo and St James Infirmary: a) the military funeral; b) the smelly corpse requiring flowers c) the confusion in Infirmary where a woman dies but the funeral is requested for a man.

The latter problem he thinks came about because some versions were about an unfortunate woman, some about an unfortunate man and the negro version is therefore 'confused' about the gender of the unfortunate person.

Finally he says that the My Jewel My Joy tune is the nicest of all. This is I think the one he sings when he sings The Unfortunate Rake (the version which I believe he made up as a composite, drawing on the various versions he mentions in his articles). It is the tune he sings when he does St James Hospital too (with a lot more twiddly bits). In the St James Hospital, he even uses the words 'me jewel me joy' in the last verse.

What do you think of Lloyd's idea that St James Infirmary is confused? Because if you don't buy it, then maybe 'magical thinking' is a way to describe Lloyd's ideas. Because this is what his argument rests on.


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