Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Standard of the Week: 'St. James Infirmary Blues'

St. James Infirmary was written by an unknown author early on in the beginning of the 20th century. It was adapted from another song from 18th century England, and it is speculated that the infirmary was an actual hospital run by the church to treat leprosy. 

Once it moved the USA, it became about alcohol instead. Louis Armstrong made the song popular in 1928, with his version, in the minor key, with a somber tone and downer lyrics:

Cab Calloway, one of the original scat men, also performed this song in 1933, on a Betty Boop cartoon no less

Even Hugh freaking Laurie (AKA House) sang this song on his album:

It is one of the staples of New Orleans and 1920's jazz and has been performed by countless musicians, for good reason.

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