PHIL AND I went down to that Saint James Infirmary. Having a somewhat sheltered childhood, I first heard the song St James Infirmary in the late 60s, as recorded by the Animals. I'd say that's still one of the best versions out there, especially as a more bluesy take on the piece. Of course, the seminal jazz-tinged versions by Louis Armstrong and Cab Calloway still hold up just fine. More locally and recently, I've heard Charlie Groth and his band do a pretty darn good job with the song. Anyway, I learned it from listening to the Animals back then. I'm a long-time Eric Burdon imitator.
So, about Phil -- that would be Phil Harris. Yeah, Baloo the Bear from The Jungle Book. But a singer and big-band leader earlier on, and a definite favorite of mine. Harris recorded a version of SJI too; some of the lyrics are different from any I've ever heard elsewhere. Perhaps they were rewritten specifically for him or maybe they're just variants I've not come across elsewhere. I like Phil's take on the song in pretty much every respect and sat down and wrote out his version of the lyrics last night:
SAINT JAMES INFIRMARY
When will I ever stop moanin'?
When will I ever smile?
My baby went and left me
She'll be gone a long, long while.
I feel so blue and heart-broken
What am I livin' for?
My baby went and left me
Never to come back no more.
So I went down to that St James Infirmary
I heard my baby groan
I felt so broken-hearted
Baby used to be my own.
I tried to keep from cryin'
My heart felt just like lead
She was all I had to live for
I wish that it was me instead.
I went down to old St James Infirmary
All was still as night
My gal stretched out on a cold white table
So cold, so pale, so white.
Though she treated me mean and low-down
Some how I didn't care
My soul is sick and weary
I hope we meet again up there.
Let her go, let her go, God bless her
Wherever she may be
She cold look this wide world over
But she'll never find a sweet man like me.
When I die I want you to dress me in straight-lace shoes
A box-back coat with a Stetson hat
Put a twenty dollar gold-piece on my watch-chain
So the boys will know I died standin' pat.
Maybe I'll attempt learning it...or relearning it. Now if only I had a big-band to back me up! :)
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STRAYS: Steve has a habit of taking in strays. Any sort. So it looks like I've added to my cat herd here. I've seen this fellow ever since I moved in (ten months ago now) but only lately has he been willing to come close and eat (and nap in the carport). Won't let me touch him yet, though! A long lean bushy gray tom cat, a bit the worse for wear. I've been calling him 'Bones' but the name might not stick. Lisa is not overjoyed about having him around...
CAFE AMERICANA: It looks like my segment on the CA television show will air next week, Tues and Thurs. That's Channel 19 in Nashville. I'm told it looks good...how I sound is a whole nuther question. There was so much wind, I couldn't whistle! I need that for my rendition of Winchester Cathedral. I had to sing 'pee-oh-dee-oh-doe' instead.
MYSPACE: Yeah, I'm back on MySpace with two accounts now. One for the magazine, one for my music. I'm not really very big on the 'community' aspect of places like that but I guess I needed a presence. Thats www.myspace.com/pvmagazine and www.myspace.com/stephenbrookemusic .