Robert W Harwood
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Michael Enright, of CBC’s SUNDAY EDITION, talked with Robert Harwood on Sunday, 16 April, 2017. The full interview can be heard ONLINE

I WENT DOWN TO ST. JAMES INFIRMARY, second edition, substantially re-written with updated material, including index now available!

For best value, please buy directly through the PURCHASE page. Also available on Amazon.

“Mr Harwood opened up so many musical alleys to explore. A sparkling book!” — “Digger,” 2017 (See KUDOS for more)

… The book is one of a kind. Bob Harwood states that this is the end of the story, as far as he has it in him to tell it. This work is unique, so if you don’t have it, get it.” — Malcolm Shaw, Vintage Jazz Mart Review, Summer 2016 (See KUDOS for more)

“No biography of Mills has been written. The best short treatment of his life and work is in Harwood.” From Duke, A Life of Duke Ellington, by Terry Teachout (Gotham Books, ©2013) [pg 396, hardcover]

I Went Down to St James Infirmary received a solid mention in David Bauer’s [AP] review of Alan Light’s book The Holy or the Broken, based on Leonard Cohen’s song Hallelujah (1984). In his review of that book Bauer says:
“In writing a book on a single song, Light joins a very specific and small category of literature. Other notable examples include Dave Marsh’s book on ‘Louie Louie,’ Robert Harwood's on ‘St. James Infirmary’ and Ted Anthony’s on ‘House of the Rising Sun’ (Anthony is an Associated Press employee).
   “There is always a bigger story to tell. Harwood said that in writing about a song, an author must explain the environment in which the song appeared and how the song grew, changed and metamorphosed.
   “‘That sort of information is more likely to have been discarded when it comes to popular culture than, say, if it was a historic political moment,’ Harwood said. ‘... In the end, though, popular culture is the story of our times.’”

[I Went Down to St James Infirmary] is a fascinating study and anyone who has an interest … in the way songs evolve and are passed along through history will find it an utterly compelling read. This critic confesses to a weakness for this type of book and devoured it with relish over a few days, though it will retain a favourite place in his library and remain a reference for years to come.” — Barry Hammond, Penguin Eggs

… knowing he was wandering into a territory marked with intentionally poor signage and populated by locals with a bad sense of direction, [Robert Harwood] approached the subject with the care, caution and tenacity of an investigative reporter. In the process he learned many interesting things and solved a number of music-history mysteries. — Andrew Lawrence, Community Guitar Resources


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.
 — Mark Berresford, review for VJM’s Blues and Jazz Mart

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

Read the review in VJM, Summer 2016 edition. By Malcolm Shaw.

Read the review in Penguin Eggs, Canada’s premier folk, roots, world music magazine.

Read the review from the KW Record and Guelph Mercury.

Read an interview with Robert Harwood on Rob Walker's “Nonotes

See the KUDOS page for ongoing updates of readers’ responses to, and critical reviews of “I Went Down to St James Infirmary … ”


Check out Harwood’s blog — an invitation for further discussion about the song, the times, the players, and the business of music as they relate to "St. James Infirmary," from it’s genesis to the present.

Harland Press

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I Went Down to St James Infirmary