Hard Times Come Again No More
DESCRIPTION: "Let us pause in life's pleasures and count its many tears While we all sup sorrow with the poor." The singer describes sad people suffering from poverty, and begs, "Hard times, come again no more."
AUTHOR: Stephen C. Foster
EARLIEST DATE: 1854 (broadside, LOCSheet sm1854 760350; not copyrighted unti January 17, 1855)
KEYWORDS: poverty hardtimes
FOUND IN: US Britain(England(South))
REFERENCES (5 citations):
Wiltshire-WSRO Mi 588, "Hard Times Come Again No More"; Wiltshire-WSRO Mi 589, "Hard Times Come Again No More" (2 texts)
Wolf-AmericanSongSheets, #852, p. 57, "Hard Times Come Again No More" (1 reference)
Emerson, pp. 86-87, "Hard Times Come Again No More" (1 text)
Messerli, pp. 86-88, "Hard Times Come Again No More" (1 text)
Edison Quartette, "Hard Times Come Again No More" (CYL: Edison 9120, 1905)
L. M. Hilton, "Hard Times Come Again No More [Mormon version]" (on Hilton01)
Bodleian, Harding B 11(866)[few words missing or illegible], "Hard Times Come Again No More" ("Let us pause in life [sic] pleasures and count its many tears"), J.B. Hodge (Sunderland), 1850-1861; also Harding B 11(3352), Harding B 11(1477), Harding B 11(1478), Harding B 11(1479), Firth c.16(246), Harding B 11(1687) , Harding B 11(1686), "Hard Times Come Again No More"
LOCSheet, sm1854 760350, "Hard Times Come Again No More", Firth, Pond, & Co. (New York), 1854; also sm1882 21586, "Hard Times Come Again No More" (tune)
LOCSinging, as105130, "Hard Times Come Again No More" ("While we seek mirth and beauty and music light and gay"), Firth, Pond, & Co. (New York), no date; also as105130, sb20165b, "Hard Times Come Again No More"
Hard Crackers, Come Again No More (cf. Spaeth, _A History of Popular Music in America_, p. 116)
Sad Times. The Burning of the Steamboat New Jersy, on the Delaware, Night of March 15, 1856. Sixty-Two Persons Hurried into Eternity by Water and by Fire (by Ned Buntline) (Wolf-AmericanSongSheets p. 138)
Sorrow Shall Come Again No More ("What to me are earth's pleasures, and what its flowing tears") (words by Rev. W. Kenney) (Wolf-AmericanSongSheets p. 148)
NOTES [266 words]: It is perhaps more a comment on the folk revival than on this song to note that it is easily the most popular Foster song with revival singers. It wasn't especially popular at the time, and Spaeth, p. 116, regards it as an "adequate potboiler."
According to notes in TaylorEtAl, p. 19, "Stephen once told his brother, Morrison, that Oh! Boys, Carry Me 'Long, and Hard Times Come Again No More were based on snatches of Negro melodies he heard in a Negro church to which he was taken in childhood by the family nurse, Olivia Pise. They are the only songs in which Foster admittedly used actual Negro material."
Howard, p. 82, also refers to Olivia Pise, but calls her a "bound girl" -- in other words, a family slave, even though she was living in a free state. Whatever that tells you about the Foster family.
Emerson, notes that Stephen Foster's parents lost their home very early in Foster's life, and suggests that "Foster would compose so many songs about home in part because he seldom knew one for long." That is perhaps more true than usual for this song, since Foster's father was failing fast at the time it was written (and, as it turned out, his mother would die the day after it was copyrighted). Morneweck, p. 464, describes it as topical: "'Hard Times' is wholly a song of the people; it was probably composed in November or December of 1854, when Stephen saw many of his own good friends among the helpless victims of hard times right in the neighborhood of his home. That winter in Pittsburgh and Allegheny was a time of great distress owing to the shutting down of the mills." - RBW
Last updated in version 5.1
- Emerson: Ken Emerson, Doo-Dah! Stephen Foster and the Rise of American Popular Culture, Da Capo, 1997?
- Howard: John Tasker Howard, Stephen Foster, America's Troubadour, 1934 (I use the 1939 Tudor Publishing edition)
- Morneweck: Evelyn Foster Morneweck (Stephen Foster's niece), Chronicles of Stephen Foster's Family, University of Pittsburgh Press, 1944
- Spaeth: Sigmund Spaeth, A History of Popular Music in America, Random House, 1948
- TaylorEtAl: Deems Taylor et al, A Treasury of Stephen Foster, Random House, 1946
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