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St. James Hotel

Blind Willie McTell / Bootleg Series 1-3 / 1983

I'm gazing out the window of the St. James Hotel
and I know noone can sing the blues like Blind Willie McTell
I work across the street from a seedy establishment with that name, just off Times Square in New York.
-- The hotel is located at 6th avenue and 45th street.

[I wonder if it is just the name that caught Dylan's attention in the light of the use of the music from St. James Infirmary?]

(jesse anderson)
Date: Fri, 3 Feb 1995 06:29:11 GMT

The original St.James Hotel is in.a small town in New Mexico called Cimarron, right outside of a very large *boy scout ranch.* The place is a national historic landmark because it was a big hangout of gunfighters in the 1880s. Jesse James stayed there and they have his room shielded from the rest of the hotel. 21 people were shot here and its frequent guests included Clay Allison, Jesse James, and Lucien Maxwell. Contact me for clarification or further info...

From: Ben Schaffer (
Date: Sun, 17 Dec 95 20:05:13 0500
Subject: St. James Hotel

Been browsing the Bob Dylan Atlas -- great stuff! -- and I must disagree with the interpretations of "St. James Hotel."

The hotel Dylan is most likely referencing in -Blind Willie McTell- is in Red Wing, Minnesota (also the home of the military academy from -The Walls of Red Wing-). Another Minnesota artist, playwright Lee Blessing, uses this same hotel as the setting for his 1986 play -Riches-. It's a simple brick hotel about a hundred years old. Must be very nice. Wonder how it compares to the Chelsea?

Ben Schaffer
For Himself

Not sure if you are still keeping this up but the st. james hotel is in the french quarter in new orleans,

Teddy Greene 28 Jun 2004

It's possible that Dylan refers to St-James Hotel in Gonzales, Texas.
After all the first line of Blind Willie McTell says:
"I traveled through East Texas
Where many martyrs fell
And I know no one can sing the blues
Like Blind Willie McTell".

Gonzales, Texas is known for as the "Lexinton of Texas"   see the Texas Revolution (1835-1836)
Gonzales. Texas (Wikipedia)
The only St. James Hotel I could find in Texas is this one:
from Dana Enciu (aikizum), Nov 2007

There is a St. James Hotel in New Orleans, Louisiana and it
is very possible that it is the place alluded to in "Blind
Willie McTell". Dylan not only mentions New Orleans early
in the song, but the song seems to be a response to Richard
"Rabbit" Brown's "James Alley Blues". Brown lived in New
Orleans, "James Alley Blues" is based there, and the song
was recorded there. i can not be positive but i think the
most educated guess is that Dylan is referring to the St.
James Hotel in New Orleans.

From Justin Sullivan Nov 2010