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Hard Times Come Again No More

[ Roud 2659 ; Ballad Index DThrdtim ; Bodleian Roud 2659 ; Wiltshire 330 ; DT HRDTIMES ; Mudcat 110654 , 117818 ; Stephen Collins Foster, 1854]

Hard Times Come Again No More, sometimes just called Hard Times, is a popular American song written by Stephen Collins Foster during 1854. Well-known and popular in its day, both in America and Europe, it was a favourite of both sides in the American Civil War. The song has been parodied many times. The first audio recording was a wax cylinder by the Edison Company (Edison Gold Moulded 9120) during 1905. It has been recorded numerous times since.

Bram Taylor sang Hard Times Come Again No More in 1986 on his Fellside album Dreams and Songs to Sing.

Steve Turner sang Hard Times on his 1987 Fellside album Braiding. He commented in his liner notes:

The only way to own a song is to have written it. But non-songwriters can have the satisfaction of re-introducing an old song to the attention of others. This is perhaps my only claim to Stephen Foster’s Hard Times which I started to sing five years ago to British audiences, though it was current by then in America. I believe this is the first unabridged version of Foster’s words to be recorded in this country.

Nanci Griffith sang Hard Times Come Again No More in 1998 on her album of cover versions, Other Voices, Too.

The Australian duo Lyrical Focus sang Hard Times in 1999 on their CD The Persimmon Tree.

Anna Massie, Jenn Butterworth and Mairearad Green sang Hard Times Come Again No More in 2006 on their Foot Stompin’ album The Missing Gift.

Jon Boden sang Hard Times as the 16 November 2010 entry of his project A Folk Song a Day.

The Young’uns sang Hard Times on their 2010 CD Man, I Feel Like a Young’un.

Hannah Rarity sang Hard Times on her 2022 album To Have You Near.


Stephen Foster’s original lyrics

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.

Chorus (after each verse):
’Tis the song, the sigh of the weary,
Hard Times, hard times, come again no more.
Many days you have lingered 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 pale drooping maiden who toils her life away,
With a worn heart whose better days are o’er:
Though her voice would be merry, ’tis sighing all the day,
Oh, hard times come again no more.

’Tis a sigh that is wafted across the troubled wave,
’Tis a wail that is heard upon the shore;
’Tis a dirge that is murmured around the lowly grave,
Oh, hard times come again no more.