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I Went Down to St. James Infirmary: Investigations in the shadowy world of early jazz-blues in the company of Blind Willie McTell, Louis Armstrong, Don ... where did this dang song come from anyway? Paperback – September 9, 2008

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Editorial Reviews


A goldmine of information, with an amazing cast of characters. The definitive statement on the subject and a very entertaining read to boot. --Rob Walker - author of Buying In and Letters from New Orleans

Robert Harwood is the kind of meticulous researcher who can vividly recreate the earlier historical periods where much of the tale is set. He is the kind of researcher who will spend weeks searching through period census records or ship's passenger lists to confirm an immigrant's family surname, as he does with music publisher, promoter and impresario Irving Mills, who managed and was associated with Louis Armstrong's, Cab Calloway's and Duke Ellington's careers and whose copyrighting of the song in 1929 resulted in controversy and a major court case. Mills is only one of the colourful characters we meet in this highly readable history, however. Harwood also gives us the goods on many others who sang, recorded or arranged versions of the song. It's a fascinating study and anyone who has an interest in any of the historical figures mentioned above, or in the way songs evolve and are passed along through history will find it an utterly compelling read. --Barry Hammond - Penguin Eggs magazine - Spring 2009

Robert Harwood's book is not the first devoted to one song, but it is the first to cross so many stylistic fences in its attempt to trace the origins of a tune, one which is lost in the mists of time. It's a fascinating and well-written book which will keep jazz, blues and country music fans both interested and frustrated in equal measure. --Mark Berresford - VJM's Jazz and Blues Mart

About the Author

Born in Belfast, Northern Ireland and raised in Montreal, Quebec, Robert W. Harwood currently lives in a small village in southern Saskatchewan.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 190 pages
  • Publisher: Harland Press; First edition (September 9, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0980974305
  • ISBN-13: 978-0980974300
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.4 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,014,114 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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