Hard Times Come Again No More

TITLE: Hard Times Come Again No More
AUTHOR: Stephen C. Foster
CATEGORY: Author Known, Public Domain
KEYWORDS: poverty, hardtimes
EARLIEST DATE: 1854 (Library of Congress Sheet sm1854 760350)

Stephen FosterA melodic genius with tender, sympathetic lyrics and infectious rhythm, Stephen Foster is often credited as “America’s First Composer” and widely regarded as one of the first who made professional songwriting profitable. Fosters’ songs were the first genuinely American in theme, characterizing love of home, American temperament, river life and work, politics, battlefields, slavery and plantation life. (Songwriters Hall of Fame)

[Stephen] Foster was acclaimed as a great songwriter in his day and made it into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1970. He is credited with nearly 300 works, including notably titled numbers such as The Glendy Burk, Massa’s in the Cold Ground, Jeanie with the Light Brown Hair and Open Thy Lattice, Love. Many of his songs had Southern themes, but Foster never lived in the South and visited it only once, when he took a riverboat voyage down the Mississippi on his honeymoon. Apparently his marriage (to the aforementioned Jeanie) was not particularly happy. 

Sadly, the song proved prophetic for its writer. Foster took to singing it quite often in his last days, when he was boxed up in the North American Hotel in Manhattan. He died an alcoholic in January 1864. The attending nurses at the Bellevue Hospital opened his worn leather wallet to discover his fortune: 38 cents and a scrap of paper that read “Dear friends and gentle hearts”. He was 37. (The Guardian)

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Hard Times

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 all 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.

‘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.

There’s pale drooping maiden who toils her life away
With a worn out heart, whose better days are o’er.
Though her voice it would be merry, ’tis sighing 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.

SOURCES:

  • Folk Song Index: A Comprehensive Guide to the Florence E. Brunnings Collection, Florence E. Brunnings, Garland Publishing, Inc., New York and London 1981—Amazon Books
  • Country Music Sources: A Biblio-Discography of Commercially Recorded Traditional Music, Guthrie T. Meade, Jr. with Dick Spottswood and Douglas S. Meade, Southern Folklife Collection, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Libraries, NC 2002—Amazon Books
  • Stephen Foster Song Book (Richard Jackson)
    Dover Publications 1974

NOTICE: I’m not the best guitar player or vocalist, but no one loves these songs more than I do. The tune and lyrics are in the public domain unless otherwise noted. The recording © copyright 2013 by Stephen Griffith and may be used by permission of the copyright holder. The variation of the song I’m posting is the version I perform and is not exactly replicating the sources cited, but is always in the same song family. If anyone has more details about this song, or believes I’ve stated something in error, please let me know. I’m also open to suggestions to improve the site. Thanks. sgg

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