Jim - (2008)
for baritone and piano
Say there! P’r’aps
Some o’ you chaps
Might know Jim
Well,— no offense:
Thar aint no sense
Jim was my chum
Up on the Bar:
That’s why I come
Down from up yar,
Thank ye, sir! You
Ain’t o’ that crew,—
Blest if you are!
Money? Not much:
I ain’t no such.
Rum? I don’t mind,
Seein’ it’s you.
Well, this yer Jim—
Did you know him?
‘bout your size;
Same kind of eyes;—
Well, that is strange:
Why, it’s two year
Since he came here,
Sick, for a
Well, here’s to us:
The h— you
That little cuss?
What makes you
You over thar?
Can’t a man drop
‘s glass in yer shop
you must r’ar?
It would n’t take
D—d much to break
You and yer bar.
Why, thar was me,
Jones, and Bob Lee,
No account men:
Then to take him!
Well, thar— Good-by—
No more, sir—I—
What’s that you say?
dern it! — sho! —
No? Yes! By Joe!
Sold! Why, you limb,
[ 5 pages, circa 3' 40" ]
For more information on Bret Harte, please see my settings of three other
texts under the title,
Harte Songs, conceived originally for baritone and piano.
Realism in literary theory is the depiction of "life as most people live and
know it." A subset of this is Regionalism in which the customs, habits and
characteristics of a particular place are highlighted, often through the use
of "local color." This can be shown in a particular dialect as this poem
shows well. The text is most certainly filled with a sense of a particular
subset of what is often referred to as Americana. Just as the famous black
poets of the mid 19th century and through in the 2oth century flavored their
poetry with regional color and dialect, so does Harte with the Western
influences of this text.
The scene is set in a bar room, as a stranger comes into a saloon to inquire
after an old friend, Jim. The conversation is one-sided, as we are left to
imagine the other characters in this little drama of some small intrigue and
discovery. The accompaniment is that music hall variety as might have been
heard in some saloon, playing as the stranger enters, and for a moment the
repetitive piano stops and then takes up the "old song" over which we listen
in on one side of the conversation.
While the accompaniment continues on in a somewhat nonchalant fashion, the
stranger becomes more agitated as the conversation deepens. The stranger
addresses even more people in the saloon, though we know little of any of
them; it is therefore up to the singer to populate this scene with those
After the largest of the potential bar room fights is defused, the piano
accompaniment continues on as the conservation draws to a close and the
stranger muses on his "chum." Closing the name, Jim, to a hum should be
audible over the accompaniment, and for this reason is it marked piano.
The score for Jim is available as a free PDF download, though any
major commercial performance or recording of the work is prohibited without
prior arrangement with the composer. Click on the graphic below for this