Thursday, August 08, 2013

Great Song and Just Had to Share

While looking up some antebellum songs for an upcoming project tonight I came across the great Mavis Staples singing Stephen Foster's 1854 classic, "Hard Times Come Again No More."

The year 1854 saw the passage of the Kansas-Nebraska Act that opened the territories to slavery, an act that ended the Whig Party and saw the creation of the Republican Party later that year. In Illinois anti-Nebraska Democrats like my fourth-great-uncle Col. E. D. Taylor, split with our U.S. Senator Stephan Douglas who had sponsored the legislation. Instead he joined former Whigs and emerging Republicans like Abraham Lincoln in beating back Douglas'-backed Democrats for the state elections that year. Some 21 years earlier Taylor had beat Lincoln in the latter's first race for the state legislature.

The triumph of the moderates like Douglas signaled the quickening march that would end with the start of the Civil War seven years later. From that point forward slavery would become the major issue of the day and the defining position between the parties.

Meanwhile, Foster managed to write a song that remains true and vibrant even to the present day.

Here's the lyrics. Feel free to sing along.

Verse 1.
Let us pause in life's pleasures and count its many tears,
While we all sup sorrow with the poor;
There's a song that will linger forever in our ears;
Oh hard times come again no more.

Tis the song, the sigh of the weary,
Hard Times, hard times, come again no more
Many days you have lingered around my cabin door;
Oh hard times come again no more.

Verse 2.
While we seek mirth and beauty and music light and gay,
There are frail forms fainting at the door;
Though their voices are silent, their pleading looks will say
Oh hard times come again no more.

Verse 3.
There's a pale drooping maiden who toils her life away,
With a worn heart whose better days are o'er:
Though her voice would be merry, 'tis sighing all the day,
Oh hard times come again no more.

Verse 4.
Tis a sigh that is wafted across the troubled wave,
Tis a wail that is heard upon the shore
Tis a dirge that is murmured around the lowly grave
Oh hard times come again no more.