Thursday, January 19, 2012

Friday Jukebox: Double St. James Infirmary Edition

Today two videos for the price of one, both covers of the jazz standard "St. James Infirmary Blues". The first is probably the "classic", the 1959 Louis Armstrong version:
There's a nice discussion of the man's work on this number, and this recording in particular, here.

And then there's this, a recent performance by, of all people, the actor Hugh Laurie:
I'm not actually sure which one I like better, other than to repeat something I read once that Billie Holiday said when asked about the blues. She said that the difference between white people singing the blues and black people singing the blues is that for the white folks - no matter how sorrowful the tune - the music was essentially "happy"; syncopated, swinging, fun. For the black, no matter how zippy the tune or jump the rhythym, the music was fundamentally sad.

So...on this rainy Friday put a twenty-dollar gold piece on my watch chain.

So the gals can all know I died standing pat.


Lisa said...

Ah, what a wonderfully mournful tune.

I didn't know Hugh Laurie sang. He's quite talented -- thanks for sharing.

Leon said...

So Hugh Laurie can play and sing, huh, that was unexpected.

His version is a pretty good but I'd say it was little "peppier" than Armstrong's.