Hard Times (Come Again No More)
Updated: May 23, 2020
This is a version of the American standard song written by Stephen Foster in 1854 (Hard Times Come Again No More). This song has been recorded by countless artists with many stunning performances available. The version here from 2006 by the duo - Gob Iron (British slang for harmonica) is a re-write of this song by Jay Farrar (1966) and Anders Parker (1970). Farrar you may know from his work with the folk rock bands Son Volt and Uncle Tupelo. Parker is known for his band - Varnaline and both are well known American folk musicians and amazing guitar players. If for nothing else, listen to this song and the album just for the guitar work. But there is much more. This is one of those great albums that few people know about or listens much too, probably since we Americans, yes, even the very religious among us, generally avoid talking realistically about death. So here is an idea. Play this song or album around your house or in your car with others or at work and just see what kinds of looks and hopefully conversations you get from it. Yes, you may be told to turn it off or go away, or asked whats up with the morbid music, which is all the more reason to play it! These are songs about illness and death and thus they inform us about life; its ends, its meanings, its worries, its injustices, its mercies, its faiths. Though I know most folks are no where near as depressive or mournful as I am, but we all will die and talking about death and our beliefs and wishes is a great gift to our loved ones and may be a comfort to us as well. I admit these songs can be difficult sometimes so of course there may be times to give them a break. I listened to this album almost daily for close to a year during a time I was seeing many grieving or dying patients, then I needed to put it aside for a long time, but I'm really glad I have this music. At best, art helps us to live a better life and for me anyway, this song and album has been a gift. Of course, we are living in hard times. People have and will always hope for better times, for clarity about ones life and death, for peace and health in living. So may it be.