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HARD TIMES

(Stephen C. Foster, "arranged by Bob Dylan")

© 1992 Special Rider Music


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PLAY "HARD TIMES" MIDI FILE (19 KB) IN BACKGROUND


Lyrics as actually recorded late July/early August 1992, Malibu, CA, released on "Good As I Been To You," Nov 1992,
performed in concert during 1993 leg of the "Never Ending Tour."

Although Clinton Heylin (in his Behind Closed Doors: The Recording Sessions 1960-1994, London, 1996) contends that "the most likely jog to Dylan's memory probably came from Emmylou Harris's rather beautiful performance on her 1991 live album" (p. 192), Emmylou's version contains too many lyrical variations to qualify as a direct source, whereas the lyrics sung by Jennifer Warnes in her 1979 recording on "Shot Through the Heart" (Arista) are rather close to Dylan's version.


The king of the early ballad was Stephen Collins Foster, the doomed young genius whose tunes and lyrics became so deeply embedded in the American popular heritage. Born in 1826 near Pittsburgh, Foster studied music as a boy and knew the ballad tradition well.... Foster wrote nearly four hundred songs..., including comic songs, "mother" songs, tearful ballads, war songs, temperance songs, hack ballads, and (after he succumbed to alcoholism in the sixties) anything that would bring him a few dollars....

Though he died at thirty-seven with a few cents and the manuscript of "Beautiful Dreamer" in his pocket, Foster was and still is the most popular of all American songwriters.... Beyond his really great talent for melody, Foster's effectiveness lay also in the close integration of his lyrics with his music, and in their content, which dealt with the verities of home, love, peace, security, and nostalgia....

Russel Nye, The Unembarrassed Muse: The Popular Arts in America, New York, 1970, pp. 311-312


Let us pause in life's pleasures and count its many tears
While we all sup sorrow with the poor.
There's a song that will linger forever in our ears,
Oh, hard times, come again no more.
'Tis the song, the sigh of the weary.
Hard times, hard times, come again no more.
Many days you have lingered on around my cabin door.
Oh, hard times, come again no more.

While we seek mirth and beauty and music light and gay,
There are frail forms fainting at the door.
Though their voices are silent, their pleading looks will say,
Oh, hard times, come again no more.
There's a song, the sigh of the weary.
Hard times, hard times, come again no more.
Many days you have lingered all around my cabin door.
Oh, hard times, come again no more.

There's a pale drooping maiden who toils her life away
With a worn heart, whose better days are o'er.
Though her voice it would be merry, 'tis sighin' all the day,
Oh, hard times, come again no more.
'Tis the song, the sigh of the weary.
Hard times, hard times, come again no more.
Many days you have lingered all around my cabin door.
Oh, hard times, come again no more.

'Tis the song, the sigh of the weary.
Hard times, hard times, come again no more.
Many days you have lingered all around my cabin door.
Oh, hard times, come again no more.


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