Hard Times in the Mill (I)

DESCRIPTION: Complaints of life in the mills (e.g. "Worked in a cotton mill all my life, Ain't got nothin' but a barlow knife"). The wages are poor, the bosses hard, and the conditions brutal. Chorus: "Hard times in (this old mill), Hard times (everywhere)."
AUTHOR: unknown
EARLIEST DATE: 1928 (recording, Lester Smallwood)
KEYWORDS: work hardtimes factory technology boss miller
REFERENCES (1 citation):
Scott-BoA, pp. 274-275, "Hard Times in the Mill" (1 text, 1 tune)
Lee Brothers Trio, "Cotton Mill Blues" (Brunswick 501, rec. 1930)
Mike Seeger, "Cotton Mill Blues" (on MSeeger02)
Pete Seeger, "Hard Times in the Mill" (on PeteSeeger13)
Lester Smallwood, "Cotton Mill Girl" (Victor V-40181, 1930; recorded 1928)

cf. "Winnsboro Cotton Mill Blues" (floating lyrics)
cf. "Hard Times in the Mill (II)"
cf. "Pickle My Bones in Alcohol" (floating lyrics)
Hard Times in This Old Mill
Cotton Mill Blues
NOTES [119 words]: This is obviously very similar to "Hard Times in the Mill (II)" -- but since the versions I've seen have different metrical patterns, and have no words in common except "hard times in," I tentatively classify them separately.
This version is recognized by longer lines in the verse (see sample above) and the non-repeating chorus. - RBW
I'm not sure I'd split these two songs. The verses tend to be floaters (e.g., the "Barlow knife" one, which shows up in fiddle tunes), and the metrical differences aren't that big. I guess I'd want to see all the verses. There's a 1962 recording by Hedy West with the Barlow knife verse in it. - PJS
It's the usual problem of the ordinary versus the extreme versions. Sigh. - RBW
Last updated in version 3.5
File: SBoA274

Go to the Ballad Search form
Go to the Ballad Index Song List

Go to the Ballad Index Instructions
Go to the Ballad Index Bibliography or Discography

The Ballad Index Copyright 2018 by Robert B. Waltz and David G. Engle.