Friday fanfare: “Hard Times Come Again No More”

Inspired by the current apocalypse, Arlo Guthrie teamed up with Jim Wilson, Vanessa Bryan, Stanley Clarke, Brad Cole, Charlie Morgan, Andy McKee, and a gospel choir featuring Dasha Chadwick, Nic Jackson, and Dillon O’Brien, to produce a new version of “Hard Times Come Again No More.” The song was originally written by Stephen Foster in 1854, commenting on the fractured state of the pre-Civil War U.S. It has been covered by many over the century-plus since, including by Ry Cooder, Mavis Staples, Bob Dylan, and Arlo’s father Woody Guthrie.

Years ago, I saw Arlo in concert in Patchogue, New York, and he was talking about his father’s songs, and said on the one hand that it’s amazing that, decades and decades later, Woody Guthrie’s songs still have relevance and importance. On the other hand, it’s too bad that the world still sucks. This song, sadly, embodies that, but there’s a message of optimism in it that we really need right now….

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