Isobel Campbell and Mark Lanegan (Screaming Trees) include a version of “St. James Infirmary” on their recent, four-song E.P. called “Ramblin’ Man.” The arrangement is slow, breathy vocals, acoustic guitar, and strings. It’s spooky and atmospheric, but a little pompous for my taste. The lyrical variation in has Cambell delivering the key line: “She has searched the whole wide world over / She never found, never found another man like me.” And the song ends there, we don’t get the subsequent verse about the singer’s own imagined funeral. As I’ve made clear elsewhere, that’s a big part of what makes the song interesting to me, so I can’t imagine the point of leaving it out. The lyrical take here makes the song more coherent and less mysterious — but that means, in my view, that it makes it a lot less fascinating.
Still, I’m always happy to hear a new version.
Thanks to Paul V. of Vernacular Music (who says the song is only on this EP, not on the pair’s upcoming album) for the tip.