Hard Times Come Again No More
Arlo Guthrie and Jim Wilson
2020 / Rising Son Records
Review by Kathy Parsons
Now this is a music event! Legendary folk icon Arlo Guthrie and pianist/composer/arranger Jim Wilson have released a new single and a stunning video of their collaboration on the Stephen Foster (1826-1864) classic “Hard Times Come Again No More.” With additional lyrics to bring the song even closer to our current crises, the single also features the soaring vocals of Vanessa Bryan along with guest artists that include Stanley Clark (acoustic bass), Brad Cole (accordion, keyboards, master arranger), Charlie Morgan (drums), Andy McKee (guitar) and a small gospel choir.
Arlo Guthrie, the son of Woody Guthrie, is best-known for classics like “Alice’s Restaurant” and “City of New Orleans,” and this is the first release of newly-recorded material from him in a decade. Although they haven’t yet met, Guthrie reached out to Jim Wilson about doing a reinterpretation of the Foster classic with the mission of bringing awareness to the people hardest hit by our current hard times and to offer a measure of solace and a ray of hope. All of the artists donated their time and talents to the project, and the results are truly amazing. Wilson produced the recording and the video, and all of the performances were done remotely. I have been a huge Arlo Guthrie fan since high school and saw him in concert several times over the years. I have also been a big fan of Jim Wilson’s solo piano recordings, so to have two favorite artists releasing such an incredible project together is beyond exciting!
The companion video for “Hard Times Come Again No More” is a fascinating mix of Depression-era black and white photos and black and white videos of the various performers. The last verse of the song has the new lyrics that were added to bring the song current, and as that verse begins, the video also becomes full-color with very recent images of COVID-19 and Black Lives Matter events, as well as the video images of the performers.
“Hard Times Come Again No More” is available for streaming or download from Amazon, iTunes/Apple Music, Spotify and many other sites. The video can be viewed on YouTube. I give this project my highest recommendation!
July 31, 2020