"Hard Times" as written by and Gillian Welch David Rawlings....
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Lyrics submitted by smallwonderrobot, edited by planochico, tweedwolfscream

Hard Times song meanings
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  • +2
    General CommentA song for our times. Beautiful.

    I had a stupid argument with my wife about nothing, because we're both stressed about money, then I heard this song for the first time, having downloaded the album that night (though I now wish I bought the CD, check this out! youtube.com/…).

    Anyway, this song came on, and I cried. "Hard times ain't gonna rule my mind, honey, hard times ain't gonna rule my mind any more". I'm sorry, baby.

    Thank you Gillian and David for soothing my life.
    FishesWillLaughon November 10, 2011   Link
  • +1
    General Comment I think this song is about rural people exhibiting steely defiance, even as their way of life crumbles around them.

    The Camptown man doesn't plow anymore because he no longer has any fields of any crops. He's lost them because of "factory farms." The only businesses left in his community are cigarette stores and check-cashing places. Walmart has shut everyone else down.

    An absolutely heartbreaking and beautiful song. Thank you so much for it, Gillian and David.
    shep61on December 01, 2011   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI hear "camptown man" instead of "captain". One odd coincidence is that the author of "camptown races", Stephen Foster, also has a song called "Hard Times Come Again No More". en.wikipedia.org/wiki/…

    For the uncertain line I believe the lyrics are "It's a mean old world, heavy in need..."

    Also I think she says "lost that knack" or maybe "nag" and not "lost that black".


    sarahpon July 03, 2011   Link
  • 0
    General Commentedited, thanks
    smallwonderroboton July 05, 2011   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThe last word in the first verse is "row" not "road"...you plow a row :p

    In the last verse I think she says ragtime kids.

    Thanks for the lyrics.
    sailinshoeson August 17, 2011   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI think Gillian is singing about the "Janus" effect, the 2sides of the coin unfolding in front of us, transformation: the guy is getting what he prayed for - it's the impetus behind the incredible music we get from ragtime, the mule & plow drop away and dusty horns are there to be picked up. Here it becomes also reminiscent of Dylan's Thunder Mountain - he dusts off an old trombone and blows regardless of all hard times containments up til mow!
    jviaon July 02, 2013   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI tried to edit the lyrics from road to row, couldn't change it but sailinshoes is definitely right. Also I think it's "muley cow", not "mule cow".

    And on that topic, one minor thing that confuses me about this song is the camptown man's animal. It's referred to as a mule in the second line and again in the last verse, but also as a "muley cow", which means a hornless cow, not a mule.
    tweedwolfscreamon November 06, 2014   Link

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