St. James Infirmary Blues

I’m re-upping this from an older augmenter’s post of mine and fixing some links: Here are two of many versions of “St. James Infirmary Blues,” a song mentioned on pp. 154 & 161 of Camus’s The Plague (the Vintage edition we’re reading). The former, 1928, could have been the recording our characters heard. The latter, 1959, was released after “194-,” so technically it didn’t exist yet. If you want to hear even more versions, check out what’s available at the amazing

My question for you: Why this song? Why a gramophone record? Why have it pumping over a loudspeaker? (And how would you compare this to the use of popular music in Pale Horse, Pale Rider?)

I went down to St. James Infirmary,
Saw my baby there,
Stretched out on a long white table,
So cold, so sweet, so bare.
Let her go, let her go, God bless her,
Wherever she may be,
She can look this wide world over,
But she’ll never find a sweet man like me.

More here.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.