Hard Ain't It Hard
05. Hard Ain’t It Hard
(Woody Guthrie/Woody Guthrie Publications, Inc., Inc., BMI)

Track 5 – Hard, Ain’t It Hard (MASTER LM 1)
Like “Going Down the Road” on Disc One, Guthrie learned this song in Pampa, Texas, from his fiddling Uncle Jeff, who said he picked it up in Olive, Oklahoma, about 1910. It was a favorite of Guthrie’s. He sang it over KFVD, and included it in his 1939 mimeographed song collection “On a Slow Train Through California.” He taught it to the Almanac Singers when he reached New York in the winter of 1940, and recorded it first with Pete Seeger’s clawhammer banjo driving the tempo for General Records in July, 1941. He recorded it again a year later for Alan Lomax and the Library of Congress’ Archive of American Folk Song. Lomax, in his headnote to the song as printed in The Folk Songs of North America (Garden City, NY: 1960), sees this cautionary song as stemming from an English ballad of unrequited love, “The Butcher’s Boy,” which, in turn, evolved into a widely sung American college song, “[There Is a] Tavern in the Town.” Such is the way of folk song. Guthrie authority Guy Logsdon stated that this was the first song Guthrie and Houston recorded as they began their marathon recording session on April 19, 1944.

Here Guthrie plays mandolin, and Houston guitar.