I first heard the song on Dr. John’s, N'Awlinz Dis Dat Or D'Udda. That CD, featuring, Mavis Staples, Eddie Bo, Cyril Neville, and a lot of other talent, is a strong contender for his best effort.
With its horn punctuation and the doctor’s keyboarding, this recording of St. James Infirmary is superb. I prefer it to the White Stripes more truncated version.
I wondered if a video of Dr. John performing St. James Infirmary, could be found on the internet. I found one of him performing it with Eric Clapton.
Who else has recorded St. James Infirmary? Many have. I particularly like Trombone Shorty’s spirited performance.
Louis Armstrong’s version is somewhat mournful, while Cab Calloway’s version is more upbeat.
Others who have covered the tune include, Cassandra Wilson, Arlo Guthrie, Joe Cocker and Eric Burdon—and that’s’ only a few. In fact, the song has its roots in the 18th century. In its original version, The Unfortunate Rake, the song describes a soldier who frequents prostitutes, then dies of venereal disease.