With all the troubles in the UK and America right now, I initially thought about posting uplifting songs today...but decided to go in the opposite direction instead, showing how folk musicians past and present have looked at hard times unflinchingly, and created works of art from them.
Above, "Hard Times of Old England" performed by Gigspanner, a trio consisting of master fiddler Peter Knight (formerly of Steeleye Span), Roger Flack and Vincent Salzfaas. The song is a folk classic from the 18th century; the video pairs it with the hard times caused by Thatcher, and her brutal response to the miners' strikes of 1980s. It comes from Gigspanner's third album, Layers of Ages (2015).
Below: "Trouble in the Fields" by Nanci Griffith, a song about the American Dust Bowl days of the 1930s, accompanied by photographs of the period -- most of them by Dorothea Lange. The song was originally released on Griffith's fifth album, Lone Star State of Mind (1987).
Above, a song about families on the road during the Great Depression, looking for work and shelter wherever they could find it. "Harvest Gypsies" was written by Boo Hewerdine, sung here by Kris Drever, from Orkney, Scotland. It comes from Drever's first solo album, Black Water (2006).
Below: "Hard Times," performed by the American roots duo Gillian Welch and Dave Rawlings. The song was written by Welch, recorded on their sixth album, The Harrow & the Harvest (2011).
Above, "It's a Hard Life" by Nanci Griffith, from her eighth album, Storms (1989). Griffith was raised in Texas but has Scots-Irish roots; the song draws upon both sides of her history.
And last, below: "The Poorest Company," performed by Kris Drever, John McCusker, Roddy Woomble, and Heidi Talbot in Glasgow, Scotland. The song is by Drever, recorded on the Drever, McCusker, Wooble album Before the Ruins (2008).
If we turned from folk to blues, of course, we'd have a whole genre of music inspired by hard times...but that's a post for another day....
The photographs are by the great documentary photographer Dorothea Lange (1895-1965), taken during the 1930s and 1940s. They are identified in the picture captions.