There was a camp town man, used to plow and sing
And he loved that mule and the mule loved him
When the day got long as it does about now
I'd hear him singing to his mule cow
Calling, "Come on my sweet old girl, and I'll bet the whole damn world
That we're gonna make it yet to the end of the row"

Singing "Hard times ain't gonna rule my mind
Hard times ain't gonna rule my mind, Bessie
Hard times ain't gonna rule my mind no more"

Said it's a mean old world, heavy in need
And that big machine is just picking up speed
And we're supping on tears, and we're supping on wine
We all get to heaven in our own sweet time
So come all you Asheville boys and turn up your old-time noise
And kick 'til the dust comes up from the cracks in the floor

Singing, "Hard times ain't gonna rule my mind, brother
Hard times ain't gonna rule my mind
Hard times ain't gonna rule my mind no more"

But the camp town man, he doesn't plow no more
I seen him walking down to the cigarette store
Guess he lost that knack and he forgot that song
Woke up one morning and the mule was gone
So come on, you ragtime kings, and come on, you dogs, and sing
And pick up a dusty old horn and give it a blow

Playing, "Hard times ain't gonna rule my mind, honey
Hard times ain't gonna rule my mind, sugar
Hard times ain't gonna rule my mind no more"


Lyrics submitted by pomegranatesROCK, edited by smallwonderrobot, GDW

"Hard Times" as written by Gillian Howard Welch David Todd Rawlings

Lyrics © Wixen Music Publishing

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Time (The Revelator) song meanings
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  • +5
    General CommentI think it's about Gillian Welch coming to realise that most of her songs are about times and situations that she's not experienced herself. Therefore, though she's in love with the folk music of the '20s and '30s, she can't be considered an authentic voice ("I'm a pretender, I'm not what I'm supposed to be"). She hopes she is doing the music justice ("But who could know if I’m a traitor? Time’s the revelator.").

    It is "They caught the Katy and left me a mule to ride". To catch the Katy is to jump onto one of the goods carriages of a moving train and hitch a free ride, common practice for those crossing the country looking for work duing the depression (the authentic voices). She's saying they experienced the real thing, she is left with only an echo of those times.

    I think it's "and all the spindles white", i.e. the waggon wheels used as decoration on houses, which are generally painted white. They're meant as tokens of rural authenticity, but ("everyday it's getting straighter"), that they're equally pretenders. She's tired of the pretensions and sets off for California, she no longer feels the need to live the rural life to write songs. Time's the revelator :)
    Paegaon August 24, 2005   Link

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