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GUEST,Karen Help: The Unfortunate Rake (116* d) RE: Help: The Unfortunate Rake 21 Jun 18


Hello Kevin

An amazing post.

I completely agree that Lloyd's "Unfortunate Rake", as per two releases, is a composite using the My Jewel My Joy tune.

But I think that the words, though largely following the Broadsheet versions, are also a 'composite. They are not, as the liner notes written by Goldstein state, and as person after person has repeated, the lyrics of a 19th century broadsheet.


For me, it isn't just that the title is different.The differences may seem slight, but I believe that they were made to fit in with a view of the song that Lloyd had argued for, in terms of both its content and its genealogy.

I base my view on the two articles Lloyd had written about St James Infirmary, which he believed was a descendant. In these he lists many of the versions you provided links to. In the first, he may not have actually seen a broadside, as he does not quote from one, but refers to one with no imprint on it, saying some people think it was by Pratt of Birmingham, some by Such. In the 2nd, he seems to have seen the Such broadside (one of them? Were there two?) and does quote bits.


Significantly for my account of his version, in Lloyd's first piece he says this: '...a soldier ..after a recital of his downfall, ends by begging for a military funeral of a defiant and cheery character, ("Beat your drums loudly and blow your fifes gaily," is his request), with six harlots carrying roses to liven the proceedings'


Here Lloyd is plainly claiming to be giving an account of one the broadsides. But this is not a fair description of any of the 19th century broadsides. None of them want the drums played loudly. None of them refers to harlots either. The broadsides include a verse in which the lad wishes that he had listened to the advice of his father. This is not defiant and cheery. Incidentally none of them has laurel, and if they did it would not cover the smell as it isn't like Roses and Lavender with a strong perfume.


My belief is that Lloyd is giving an account of the broadside which fits in with his theory that the song is linked to St James Infirmary Blues, with its jazz bands and so on.

And I also believe that the changes he makes to the Such when composing (or compositing) his own version fit with his misleading account and draw upon the versions he has listed. I cannot find a source for 'bright muskets', so I think that may be a touch of Lloyd.
I don't think I can find a source for Lloyd's 'Don't muffle your drums' either.

He misses out the verse My Father oft told me altogether, presumably because this doesn't give the defiant cheery mood he is looking for.

He introduces Laurel, which might come from the My Jewel fragment, or from an early EFSS version. But Lloyd says it will muffle the smell, which is I think nonsense, as it won't. And this was not the purpose for it in the originals where it occurred.

He puts in the words St James Hospital, which as he knew by the time he wrote the 2nd article were not in the Such Broadside Goldstein's liner notes direct us to, but which were, as he knew, in the Appalachian song and had also been found in Canada.

Lloyd sings: I asked him what ailed him, I asked him what failed him.
Not in the broadsides: source for this appears to be a version published in 1937 by English collectors, set in Bath Hospital. I quite like this internal rhyme, and I guess Lloyd did too. I have found this internal rhyme in another early folk song, but can't now remember which it was, dang it.

Broadsides have 'dead march'. Lloyd replaces it with 'quick march'. You can see how this change fits with the thesis about the song he had devised, and also how it adds credence to his claim that this song is an ancestor of St James Infirmary Blues.

I don't at all object to Lloyd rewriting it, but I would prefer it if Goldstein had refrained from describing Lloyd's version as a 19th century broadside version on liner notes to an LP explicitly aimed to be used as evidence about how a song spreads.

In his first article, Lloyd states: 'So through all the changing scenes of character St James' Infirmary is not very different, after all, from its 18th century original. (NB He has not seen such a thing, only a fragment. This is misleading waffle!) A folksong is indeed a tough thing to kill, and though the captains of industry did their damndest, many songs have survived and adapted themselves to new characters and new conditions in much the same way as the alleged modern, alleged American, alleged negro, alleged jazz ballad of St James Infirmary.'

This, I believe, is the thesis his changes to the actual broadsheet version are intended to support. And now that this thread has made me think about it, yes, I suppose this is done partly for political reasons.

Incidentally, in his first article Lloyd claims that the tune Henry Martin (which he knew Sharp felt some tunes collected in England resembled) 'has many points of correspondence with the tune of St James' Infirmary'. Hmm. Did it? Anyway, Lloyd claims that this tune 'may well have been the forerunner of that hardy old stand-by ... St James' Infirmary Blues'.

However, I would go further, and argue that the words are also a composite, and that they are the way they are because of two factors influencing Lloyd: 1) aesthetic ones and 2) ones to do with Lloyd’s own theory that the broadsheets were ancestors of St James Infirmary.

For details of Lloyd’s theory, see the article from ‘Sing’ (1956) referenced by Goldstein in his liner notes to the Unfortunate Rake LP and an earlier version of this article, in the magazine ‘Keynote’ (1947).


Lloyd had read many of the versions cited in Kevin’s post, and refers to them. In 1947 he does not seem to have seen any 19th century broadside, and to be basing his comments on secondary sources, but by 1956 he has seen the Such broadside as he refers to it and quotes from it.

As discussed above, Lloyd argues that St James Infirmary is descended from The Unfortunate Lad.

He claims that the tune of St James Infirmary has ‘many points of correspondence with’ the tune Henry Martin, which, he knew, Sharp thought some tunes collected for versions of the Lad resembled, they were ‘of that type’ Sharp said. I haven’t followed that up, being more of the Whitey Kaufman line of thought on that one, thanks to Harwood’s excellent research.

In the 47 Keynote article, Lloyd gives and account of the Lad broadside which, for me, misrepresents it. He claims that the soldier ‘ends by begging for a military funeral of a defiant and cheery character (“Beat your drums loudly and blow your fifes gaily,” is his request), with harlots carrying roses to liven the proceedings …’ No idea where Lloyd gets the idea of harlots from. It says ‘pretty maidens’ in the version he claims to be describing. And all the drums in the versions he refers to are to be muffled. And what, precisely, is ‘cheery’ about the dead march?

On this basis he says that ‘St James’ Infirmary is not very different, after all from its 18th century original (another gap in the argument here as he hasn’t actually seen or quoted any full 18th century version, only the My Jewel fragment).

‘A folksong is indeed a tough thing to kill, and though the captains of industry did their damndest, many songs have survived and adapted themselves to new characters and new conditions in the same way the alleged modern, alleged American, alleged negro, alleged jazz ballad of St James’ Infirmary. Not that Infirmary isn’t modern American negro jazz. It is all that, sure enough but in origin it is sturdily Anglo-Irish; and in that it resembles many – perhaps even most – well known American negro songs.’


When we look at the version Lloyd sang and compare it with the Such broadside that Goldstein’s references lead us to (via the Sing article), we can see that most of the changes Lloyd makes fit in with his theory. I am a bit old fashioned, granted, but for me ideally one shapes the theory to fit the data not the other way round.

So he does away altogether with the verse about My father oft told me. This does not fit with his assertions about cheery defiance.

He sings the words ‘St James Hospital’, which he knows were not on the broadside but were found in Appalachia by Sharp and in Nova Scotia by MacKenzie. The day/day rhyme in the first verse seems to come from Loredo-type songs.

The ‘I asked him what ailed him, asked him what failed him’ internal rhyme is probably from the Bath Hospital version published in England in 1937. I guess Lloyd probably liked this on aesthetic grounds. It does sound good.

The broadsheet does not have laurel, a detail which is in My Jewel and in the Bath Hospital one, but in neither of those is it said to cover a smell. Indeed, it has no perfume, unlike the roses and lavender of some versions.

Lloyd replaces the request to muffle the drum with its direct opposite. He uses ‘fife’ not ‘pipes’ as in the Such. The word ‘merrily’ comes from Appalachia and also Nova Scotia. He replaces the ‘dead march’ with ‘quick march’.

The ‘bright muskets’ appears to be a touch of Lloyd’s own, but if anybody can find a source, that would be good.

Lloyd puts ‘saying’ at the end, which makes sense, but isn’t in the broadsides.

So it looks to me as if Lloyd produced a composite which suited his theory about St James’ Infirmary being a descendant. That is my thinking on this song, though I admit I have had a lot of help in getting there.

I don’t mind him doing this at all. Where I am uneasy is in Goldstein stating plainly that this IS a 19th century broadside version when it isn’t and when Goldstein is acting as if he were an expert who had looked up the authorities, as per his references on the liner notes, but clearly hasn't done any checking up or doesn't care whether what he is saying is accurate. So many website and books quote Lloyd’s song and seriously state it is a 19th century broadside version, as opposed to being based on such a thing. The LP was designed to show how a folk song mutates, to be educational. Better to teach folk how to take a statements and ask a) who says b) what is their evidence c) where can I find it to check it.

To me, given the number of printings and recordings of the songs in this 'family', there comes a point where one has to acknowledge that any 'folk-type' tradition must be interacting with the commercial and popular music of the times.


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