Rigs of the Times, The

DESCRIPTION: Chorus: "Honesty's all out of fashion; These are the rigs of the times...." Detailing all the sharp business practices of the day, e.g. the butcher who charges two shillings a pound "and thinks it no sin" -- while placing his thumb on the scale!
AUTHOR: unknown
EARLIEST DATE: 1905 (Belden-BalladsSongsCollectedByMissourFolkloreSociety)
KEYWORDS: hardtimes poverty lie money landlord
FOUND IN: Britain(England(Lond,South)) US(MA,MW,NW,Ro,SE,So) Canada(Newf) Australia
REFERENCES (23 citations):
Kennedy-FolksongsOfBritainAndIreland 237, "The Rigs of the Time" (1 text, 1 tune)
Palmer-EnglishCountrySongbook, #25, "The Rigs of the Time" (1 text, 1 tune)
Palmer-ThePainfulPlow, #13, "The rigs of the times" (1 text, 1 tune)
Henderson-VictorianStreetBallads, p. 31, "The Riggs of the TImes" (1 text)
Belden-BalladsSongsCollectedByMissourFolkloreSociety, pp. 433-434, "Song of the Times" (1 text)
Brown/Belden/Hudson-FrankCBrownCollectionNCFolklore3 332, "Hard Times" (2 texts plus a fragment and mention of 1 more)
Brown/Schinhan-FrankCBrownCollectionNCFolklore5 332, "Hard TImes" (2 tunes plus text excerpts)
Hudson-FolksongsOfMississippi 89, pp. 215-216, "Hard Times" (1 text)
Gardner/Chickering-BalladsAndSongsOfSouthernMichigan ,184 ""Hard Times (1 text, 1 tune)
Welsch-NebraskaPioneerLore, pp. 51-53, "Hard Times" (1 text)
Hubbard-BalladsAndSongsFromUtah, #186, "Hard Times" (3 texts)
Lomax/Lomax-AmericanBalladsAndFolkSongs, pp. 332-334, "Hard Times" (1 text)
Fahey-Eureka-SongsThatMadeAustralia, pp. 14-16, "The Rigs of the Times" (1 text, 1 tune)
Fowke/Mills/Blume-CanadasStoryInSong, pp. 206-208, "Hard, Hard Times" (1 text, 1 tune -- a Canadian adaptation created by William James Emberly in 1936 to describe conditions in the Great Depression)
Fowke/MacMillan-PenguinBookOfCanadianFolkSongs 17, "Hard, Hard Times" (1 text, 1 tune)
Peacock, pp. 57-59, "Hard Times" (1 text, 2 tunes)
Mills-FavoriteSongsOfNewfoundland, pp. 44-45, "Hard, Hard Times" (1 text, 1 tune)
Flanders-ChapBook Flanders-VermontChapBook, pp. 38-45, "Hard Times" (1 text)
Cox-FolkSongsSouth 183, "Hard Times" (1 text, the first six verses being "Courting the Widow's Daughter" and the last seven being a reduced version, minus the chorus, of "The Rigs of the Times")
Owens-TexasFolkSongs-2ed, pp. 113-114, "Hard Times" (1 text, 1 tune)
Blondahl-NewfoundlandersSing, pp. 13-14, "Hard, Hard Times" (1 text, 1 tune)
Doyle-OldTimeSongsAndPoetryOfNewfoundland, "Hard, Hard Times" (1 text, 1 tune): pp. 28-29 in the 3rd edition, pp. 46-47 in the 4th, pp. 24-25 in the 5th

Roud #876
Omar Blondahl, "Hard, Hard Times" (on NFOBlondahl01,NFOBlondahl02)
Ken Peacock, "Hard Times" (on NFKPeacock)
Mike Kent, "Hard Times" (on MUNFLA/Leach)
Ned Rice, "Hard Times" (on PeacockCDROM)
J. W. "Charger" Salmons & friends: "The Rigs of the Time" (on Lomax41, LomaxCD1741)
Pete Steele, "The Song of Hard Times" (on PSteele01)

cf. "Don't Come to Michigan" (lyrics)
cf. "Old David Ward" (lyrics)
cf. "How Can A Poor Man Stand Such Times and Live?" (subject)
cf. "The Steam Doctor" (lyrics)
cf. "Fine Times in Camp Number Three" (lyrics)
cf. "Here's First to Those Farmers" (theme)
cf. "The Mare and the Foal" (theme)
cf. "The Merchant's Song" (subject: Newfoundland's truck system) and references there
NOTES [258 words]: Most scholars (e.g. Belden, Cox, Kennedy) assume that "The Rigs of the Times" (with chorus "Singing, Honesty's all out of fashion, These are the rigs of the times, times, me boys, These are the rigs of the times") is the same as "Hard Times" (with a short chorus such as "these times, these (hard/queer) times").
Personally, I'm not convinced, as the two seem to fall into very distinct groups. But because the equation is so common, I've followed it in the index. - RBW
Blondahl-NewfoundlandersSing: "This ... was sent in by Paul Emberly, who informs that the lines were written by his late father." - BS
The Newfoundland versions of this are perhaps particularly bitter in their references to the merchant. This is probably due to the particular circumstances of Newfoundland. Because most supplies had to come to an outport from elsewhere, there developed the so-called "truck system." The locals would set up an account with the merchant, who would give them supplies on credit. When they arrived with their loads of cod, the locals would give it to the merchant to pay off the debt -- assuming they had enough to pay off the debt. And it was of course the merchant, not the sometimes-illiterate fisherman, who calculated the amount of the debt, recorded it, and decided if the fisherman had paid it off. Many merchants were honest, but not all; little wonder if the Newfoundlanders viewed the merchants as a drought-stricken American farmer viewed the bank.... For more on this Newfoundland problem, see the notes to "The Merchant's Song." - RBW
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File: K237

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