The Saint James Infirmary Blues is a jazz song of uncertain origins that found its way into the emerging jazz scene of the late 19th or early 20th century. Although the song is called a “blues” song, it varies from what is the traditional or more common 12 bars blues progression.
Obvious connections between this song can be drawn to the many variations of the 18th century English Folk song “The Unfortunate Rake.” In story structure, these songs are very similar as well as the mentioning of the Saint James’ Hospital in most versions of the song. Another obvious connection, predominantly in story structure, can be made with the American folk song “The Cowboy’s Lament”. (AKA “The Streets of Laredo.”)