I went down to St. James Infirmary.
I saw my sweetheart there.
Lying on a table,
So cold, so white, so fair.
I went up to see the doctor.
"She’s very low," he said.
I went back to see my baby
And great god she was lying there dead.
I went down to Old Joe’s Bar-room.
Down on the corner by the square.
They were serving drinks as usual.
And the usual crowd was there.
On my left stood Joe MacKennedy.
His eyes were blood-shot red.
He turned to the crowd around him
And these are the words that he said.
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 another man like me.
When I die please bury me
In a high top stetson hat.
Put a gold piece on my watch chain.
So the boys will know I died standing pat.
Get six gamblers to carry my coffin.
Six chorus girls to sing my song.
Put a jazz band on my tailgate
To raise hell as we roll along.
This is the end of my story.
So let's have another round of booze.
And if any one should ask you just tell them
I’ve got the St. James Infirmary Blues.
. . .This song dates from 1912, though some have tried to copyright it, without crediting an author, as recently as 1978. As many songs that are the blues, this one does not have a recorded composer; whoever he was, he is lost in the course of a cruel history, perhaps even in the epidemic he records here.
Many consider the St. James Infirmary Blues to be the first blues--or at least first published blues. It is a standard and its rhythm is a test for any jazz or blues musician.
The changes for this blues are:
Dm A7 Dm A7 Dm A7 Dm
Sometimes there is a Gm before the first A.