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Likely inspiration for Dylan's "Hard Times in New York Town". Likely source: Anthology of American Folk Music" (compiled by Harry Smith), by The Bently Boys (track No. 25).
Bascom Lamar Lunsford version, transcribed in Tom Glazer, Songs of Peace, Freedom & Protest, New York, 1972, pp. 90-92.

Also known as "Robert's Farm." Bascom Lamar Lunsford, the Southern folklorist, says he learned it from a Claude Reeves of North Carolina, who claims he wrote it on personal experience around 1935.
(ibid., p. 90)

Claude Reeves' claim is contradicted by the recording date of the Bently Boys' version (original issue: Columbia 15565D), 1929. Harry Smith also remarks in his liner notes:

This recording is a regionalized recasting of an earlier song, "Hard Times."

Come you ladies and you gentlemen
And listen to my song,
I'll sing it to you right, but you might think it's wrong,
May make you mad, but I mean no harm,
It's all about the renters on Penny's farm.
It's hard times in the country,
Down on Penny's farm.
Now you move out on Penny's farm,
Plant a little crop of 'bacco and a little crop of corn,
He'll come around to plan and plot,
Till he gets himself a mortgage
On everything you got.

You go to the fields
And you work all day,
Till way after dark, but you get no pay,
Promise you meat or a little lard,
It's hard to be a renter on Penny's farm.

Now here's George Penny come into town,
With his wagon-load of peaches, not one of them sound,
He's got to have his money or somebody's check,
You pay him for a bushel,
And you don't get a peck.

Then George Penny's renters, they come into town,
With their hands in their pockets, and their heads hanging down,
Go in the store and the merchant will say:
"Your mortgage is due
And I'm looking for my pay."

Goes down in his pocket with a trembling hand --
"Can't pay you all but I'll pay you what I can."
Then to the telephone the merchant makes a call,
"They'll put you on the chain gang
If you don't pay it all."

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