Seems like no matter what the situation is in the world or in your life, there’s a Bob Dylan song that feels right for the moment, even if obliquely. Actually, this one isn’t a Dylan song; it was written in 1854 by America’s first great songwriter, Stephen Foster, but Dylan totally makes it his own in this performance, recorded on April 28, 1993 at KRTLU Studios in Austin, Texas, as part of a 60th birthday celebration for Willie Nelson. Joining Dylan are three members of his band during that era—John Jackson on guitar, Tony Garnier on bass, Bucky Baxter on accordion (instead of his usual pedal steel)—augmented by the great Marty Stuart on mandolin. Dylan had recorded the song (as ‘Hard Times”) on his 1992 album Good As I Been to You, which consisted entirely of traditional and folk covers, performed solo acoustic.


Hard Times Come Again No More has been recorded by dozens of other musicians through the years, including Johnny Cash, Mavis Staples, Emmylou Harris, Mary J. Blige, Jennifer Warnes, Bruce Springsteen, and Kate & Anna McGarrigle, to name a few. A timeless classic! —Blair Jackson

Stephen Foster (1826-1854)