From the recording Precious Life

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My take on this classic traditional dirge which, according to Wikipedia is "of uncertain origin". It is often thought to be about New Orleans, however the actual St. James Infirmary was apparently in London and was a religious foundation for the treatment of leprosy.


Down in old Joe’s bar room, on the corner by the square

The drinks were served as usual, the usual crowd was there

On my left stood big Joe McKennedy, eyes blood shot red

He looked at the gang around him, and these are the words he said

I went down to the St. James Infirmary, saw my baby there

Stretched out on a long white table, so cold, so pale, and so fair

I let her go, God bless her, wherever she may be

She can search the whole world over, and never find a man like me

Now when I die bury me, in my high top stetson hat

Put a twenty dollar gold piece on my watch chain to show the gang I’m standing pat

I want six crap shooters for my pall bearers, a chorus girl to sing me my song

a jazz band on my hearse wagon, to raise hell as we roll along

Now that you’ve heard my story, let’s have another shot of booze

If anyone happens to ask you, just say we’ve got the gambling blues.