Here are three old songs, traditional songs that weren’t written by anyone that anyone can remember. But people have been singing them a long time, which means the lyrics and melodies get altered somewhat over time. Such is the process. They are folk songs, and the “folks”, the plain old folks, keep playing them because they are great songs. St. James Infirmary, House of the Rising Sun, and Oh, What A Beautiful City are all American folk songs from the post Civil War years. Probably you know the words, so please sing along.
Maybank and Bumba recorded these the other day.
The St. James Infirmary tells a story that starts with going down to Old Joe’s Bar Room and hearing the narrative of old Joe Kennedy who – you guessed it – went down to the St. James Infirmary ….
The House of the Rising Sun, a house of ill repute in New Orleans, tells another very sad story.
Oh, What A Beautiful City, an old spiritual, is also very old. Not much of a story, it’s more about a feeling….