0041 – Hard Times
Sheet Music - PDF Download, 1 1/4 pages, intermediate level
Title: Hard Times
MP3 included in download
“Hard Times” is Stephen Foster, of course, and much performed nowadays. But what is somewhat forgotten is that it owes much of its contemporary currency to a 1981 record of the same name by that exemplary revivalist string band, The Red Clay Ramblers. It is supposed to be only one of two tunes that Foster based on a song he actually heard an African American singing (in some working situation, as I recall). He wasn’t in a position to really learn the song he heard, and no one has ever figured out what that might have been, but the melody haunted him and he used it to carry one of his best lyrics. What can’t be denied is that this piece of African American folksong certainly sounds Scottish, at least until we hit the diminished chord in the B part. Of course it is no secret that the various strains that went into the mix when American music was evolving all influenced each other profoundly.