Roger McGuinn·The Folk Den

July 2014 • Hard Times of Old England


As Camilla and I prepare for our extensive Concert Tour through the UK, The Netherlands, Belgium and Germany, I’m reminded of this song. As part of the Folk Process, I’ve replaced the last line: “And soon I’ll have occasion to alter my song” with “
And soon we’ll have England financially strong,” a wish for now as it was in the Nineteenth Century.

The earliest broadside of this ballad came out before 1820, following the Napoleonic Wars. English tradesmen couldn’t find work. Soldiers and sailors returning to civilian life were faced with possible starvation. The singer however, ends on an optimistic note hoping there will be good times in old England once again.

[G] Oh come all you [Bm] tradesmen who [Em] travel along

I’m [C] asking you [D] now where the [G] work has all gone
Long time I’ve been [D] traveling and I [G] cannot find none
Sing, Oh the hard [D] ti-m-es of old [G] England
In old [C] England [D] very hard [G] times

Provisions you find in the shops, it is true

But if you’ve got no money, there’s none there for you

So what are the poor folk and their families to do
Sing, Oh the hard times of old England
In old England very hard times

Our soldiers and sailors have come from war

They’re fighting for King and for country once more

Home to be starved, better stayed where they were
Sing, Oh the hard times of old England
In old England very hard times

And now to conclude and to finish my song

I’m hoping these hard times will not be here long

And soon we’ll have England financially strong
Sing, Oh the good times of old England
In old England very good times

McGuinn Tour Dates



Folk Den Project


  • Hard Times of Old England
  • Peg & Awl
  • Take A Drink On Me
  • The Lazy Farmer Boy
  • Engine 143
  • Winter’s Almost Gone
  • The Month of January
  • It Came Upon A Midnight Clear
  • She’ll Be Coming Round The Mountain
  • Swannanoa Tunnel
  • Jimmy Brown
  • I Heard The Voice Of Jesus
  • I’ve Been Working On The Railroad
  • We Are Crossing The Jordan River
  • Early One Morning
  • Swing Low Sweet Chariot
  • The Moonshiner
  • Banks of Newfoundland
  • John Hardy
  • We Three Kings
  • Away With Rum
  • Darling Clementine
  • Give Me Oil In My Lamp
  • Isn’t It Grand?
  • Jacob’s Dream
  • When Jones’s Ale Was New
  • Down In The Valley
  • Let My People Go!
  • Paddy West
  • Titanic
  • Eddystone Light
  • God Rest Ye Merry Gentlmen
  • The Cobbler
  • Black Is The Color Of My True Love’s Hair
  • Bury Me Not On The Lone Prairie
  • The Coast of Peru
  • Paul & Silas
  • Leave Her Johnny Leave Her
  • To Welcome Poor Paddy Home
  • The Squirrel
  • Polly Vaughn
  • Henry Martin
  • Barbara Allen
  • Back To Sea
  • The Bears Went Over The Mountain
  • Pay Me My Money Down
  • Rolling Down To Old Maui
  • Whoa Back Buck
  • I’m On My Way
  • All The Pretty Little Horses
  • Big Rock Candy Mountain
  • Black Mt. Rag / Soldier’s Joy
  • She Never Will Marry
  • Randy Dandy Oh
  • Take This Hammer
  • Christmas Is Coming
  • Frozen Logger
  • I’ll Fly Away
  • Drill Ye Tarriers
  • When I First Came To This Land
  • Old Chisholm Trail
  • A Roving
  • Dry Bones
  • Old Plank Road
  • My Home’s Across The Smokey Mountains
  • Nobody Knows You When You’re Down And Out
  • No Payday In Detroit
  • Go Tell It On The Mountain
  • 500 Miles
  • Joshua Fit The Battle of Jericho
  • Darlin’ Corey
  • Skip To My Lou
  • Going Down The Road Feeling Bad
  • I Know Where I’m Going
  • Come And Go With Me To That Land
  • Cripple Creek
  • Blow The Man Down
  • Old Joe Clark
  • Away Rio
  • O Come All Ye Faithful
  • Old Blue
  • The Ballad of the Boll Weevil
  • Fair and Tender Ladies
  • Sugar Baby
  • The Coo Coo
  • King Kong Kitchie Kitchie Ki Me O
  • The Butcher’s Boy
  • Glory Glory
  • The Great Silkie of Sule Skerry
  • The House Carpenter
  • This Little Light Of Mine
  • Joy To The World
  • Housewife’s Lament
  • Whup Jamboree
  • Perry’s Victory
  • Every Time I Feel The Spirit
  • Katie Morey
  • Pretty Polly
  • Molly Malone
  • Greensleeves
  • Wade in the Water
  • Mary Had A Little Lamb
  • St. Clair's Defeat
  • Children Go Where I Send Thee
  • Oh Mary Don't You Weep
  • Ruben Ranzo
  • There's A Hole In The Bucket
  • Red River Valley
  • Erie Canal
  • On Top Of Old Smokey
  • Old Riley
  • So Early In The Spring
  • Wanderin'
  • Follow The Drinking Gourd
  • Let The Bullgine Run
  • Cindy
  • The First Noel
  • The John B's Sails
  • Spanish Ladies
  • Oh Freedom
  • Haul Away Joe
  • Down by the Riverside
  • Salty Dog Blues
  • Gypsey Rover
  • Ezekiel Saw A Wheel
  • Drunken Sailor
  • Silver Dagger
  • The Gallows Pole
  • We Wish You a Merry Christmas
  • Heave Away
  • Banks of Ohio
  • Shenandoah
  • Go Tell Aunt Rhodie
  • He's Got The Whole World In His Hands
  • Squid-Jigging Ground
  • 12 Gates To The City
  • Wild Mountain Thyme
  • Pretty Saro
  • St. James Infirmary
  • When the Saints Go Marching In
  • Away In A Manger
  • I Am A Pilgram
  • Wildwood Flower
  • Railroad Bill
  • Delia's Gone
  • All My Trials
  • Tarrytown
  • Michael Row the Boat Ashore
  • Rock Island Line
  • Roddy McCorley
  • Spanish is the Loving Tongue
  • Waltzing Matilda
  • I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day
  • Battle Hymn of the Republic
  • America For Me
  • Streets of Laredo
  • Bring Me a Little Water, Sylvie
  • Nancy Whiskey
  • Water is Wide, The
  • House of the Rising Sun, The
  • Colorado Trail, The
  • Catch The Greenland Whale
  • The Riddle Song
  • Stewball
  • Twelve Days of Christmas, The
  • Makes A Long Time Man Feel Bad
  • Coffee Grows On White Oak Trees
  • Cumberland Mountain Bear Chase
  • Cruel War, The
  • Star Spangled Banner
  • Willie Moore
  • Kilgary Mountain
  • Lilly of the West
  • Dink's Song
  • Greenland Whale Fisheries
  • Auld Lang Syne
  • I Saw Three Ships
  • Ain' No Mo' Cane On De Brasis
  • Fair Nottamun Town
  • Sail Away Lady
  • Trouble In Mind
  • Get Along Little Dogies
  • Liverpool Gals
  • Alabama Bound
  • Blood Red Roses
  • Old Texas
  • 900 Miles
  • Brazos River, The
  • Bonny Ship the Diamond, The
  • John The Revelator
  • Mighty Day
  • Home On The Range
  • John Henry
  • Pushboat
  • James Alley Blues, The
  • Handsome Cabin Boy, The
  • Bound To Australia
  • Finnegan's Wake
  • Brandy Leave Me Alone
  • Cold Cold Coast of Greenland, The
  • Mary Had A Baby
  • Wagoner’s Lad
  • Wild Goose
  • Go To Sea Once More
  • South Australia
  • This Train
  • East Virginia
  • Wayfaring Stranger
  • Brisbane Ladies
  • Sailor Lad
  • Alberta
  • In The Evenin’
  • What Child Is This
  • Golden Vanity
  • Lost Jimmy Whelan
  • Boatman
  • Tribute to Bob Gibson
  • Cold Coast of Greenland
  • New York Girls
  • Buffalo Skinners
  • Springfield Mountain
  • Easter
  • To Morrow
  • John Riley
  • Argonaut, The
  • Virgin Mary
  • Old Paint