Two Important Songs of New Orleans: W.C. Handy's "St. Louis Blues" and an adaptation of an English Folksong ("The Unfortunate Rake"), that evolved into "St. James Infirmary" (attr. to Joe Primrose).

Click on a link:

  1. W.C. Handy's Memphis Blues Band, playing St. Louis Blues (DRG, ?1923)

  2. The Original Dixieland Jass Band, playing St. Louis Blues (Jazz Archives, 1917)

  3. Sidney Bechet, playing St. Louis Blues (RCA, 1932)

  4. Django Reinhardt, playing St. Louis Blues (ASV/Living Era, 1935)

  5. King Oliver, playing St. James Infirmary (RCA France, 1929-1930)

  6. Django Reinhardt, playing St. James Infirmary (JSP, 1949)

  7. Sweet Emma Barret & her Preservation Hall Jazz Band, playing St. James Infirmary (Riverside/OJC, 1961)

  8. Art Hodes and Sidney Bechet's Hot Five, playing St. James Infirmary (youtube: Laceup 1967)

  9. Louis Armstrong and his Hot Seven, playing St. James Infirmary (RCA, 1922)

"ST. LOUIS BLUES," Bessie Smith's recording

I hate to see the ev’nin’ sun go down
I hate to see the ev’nin’ sun go down,
It makes me think I’m on my last go ’round

Feelin’ tomorrow like I feel today
Feel tomorrow like I feel today,
I’ll pack my grip, make my getaway

St. Louis woman with her diamond rings
Pulls that man around by her apron strings,
‘t’wasn’t for powder and the store-bought hair
The man I love, wouldn’t go nowhere, nowhere

I got the St. Louis blues just as blue as I can be
He’s got a heart like a rock cast in the sea,
or else he wouldn’t have gone so far from me

"ST. JAMES INFIRMARY," Louis Armstrong's recording

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.