St. James Infirmary

St. James Infirmary Blues (also known as Those Gambler’s Blues)

Traditional, copyrighted by Irving Mills (as Joe Primrose), 1929.


I went down to St. James Infirmary
I heard my baby groan
I felt so brokenhearted
She used to be my very own

Though she treated me mean and lowdown
Somehow I didn’t care
My soul is sick and weary
I hope we’ll meet again up there

I went down to St. James Infirmary
I saw my baby there
Stretched on a long white table
So sweet, so cold, so bare

Let her go, let her go, God bless her
Wherever she may be
She can search this wide world over
She’ll never find a sweet man like me

Oh when I die please dress me in straight-lace shoes
Box-back coat and Stetson hat
Put a twenty dollar gold piece on my watch chain
So the boys’ll know I died standin’ pat

I want six crapshooters for pallbearers
And a chorus girl to sing me a song
With a jazz band on my hearse
To get hot as we march along


Transcribed from Regal 8955, as sung by Chick Bullock, recorded February 14, 1930.


I went down to St. James Infirmary
I saw my baby there
Stretched out on a long white table
So sweet, so cold, so bare

Let her go, let her go, God bless her
Wherever she may be
She can look this wide world over
She’ll never find a sweet man like me

Oh when I die please dress me in straight-lace shoes
Box-back coat and Stetson hat
Put a twenty dollar gold piece on my watch chain
So the boys’ll know I died standin’ pat


Transcribed from Victor 22298, as sung by Frankie Marvin with King Oliver and his Orchestra, recorded January 28, 1930.


I went down to St. James Infirmary
Saw my baby there
Stretched out on a long white table
So sweet, so cold, so bare

Oh I tried to keep from crying
My heart felt just like lead
For she was all that I had to live for
I wish that it was me instead

Let her go, let her go, God bless her
Wherever she may be
She can look this wide world over
She’ll never find a sweet man like me


Transcribed from Hit of the Week 1046, as sung by Irving Mills with Duke Ellington’s Orchestra as Harlem Hot Chocolates, recorded March 1930.


I went to St. James Infirmary
And I found my baby there
Stretched out on a long white table
So sweet, so cold, so bare

Let her go, let her go, God bless her
No matter where she may be
She might look this whole world over
Never find another sweet man like me

When I die dress me in straight lace shoes, babe
Box-back coat and a Stetson hat
Hang a twenty dollar gold piece on my watch chain
So the broads’ll know I died standin’ pat

[Instrumental Break]

When I die dress me in straight lace shoes, babe
Box-back coat and a Stetson hat
Hang a twenty dollar gold piece on my watch chain
So the broads’ll know I died standin’ pat


Transcribed from Brunswick 4687, as sung by George E. Lee, with his own orchestra, recorded November 6, 1929.