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St James Infirmary

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Published on Jun 28, 2009

"St. James Infirmary Blues" is an American folksong of anonymous origin, though sometimes credited to the songwriter Joe Primrose (a pseudonym for Irving Mills). Louis Armstrong made it famous in his influential 1928 recording.
The source of this song is an 18th century English folk song called "The Unfortunate Rake" (also known as "Unfortunate Lad" or "The Young Man Cut Down in His Prime"). There are versions of this song throughout the English-speaking world, and it evolved into American standards such as "The Streets of Laredo" or "The Dying Cowboy".
"The Unfortunate Rake" is about a sailor who uses his money on prostitutes, and it implies that he dies of a venereal disease. When the song moved to America, gambling and drinking became the cause of the man's death.

The song was first collected in England in its version as "The Unfortunate Rake" by Henry Hammond by a Mr. William Cutis at Lyme Regis, Dorset in March 1906.
They don't make songs like this anymore.
The Bettie Boop cartoon is for the actual song, as performed by Cab Callaway.

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