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"Times Is Gettin Harder": Blues of the Great Migration
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“Times Is Gettin Harder”: Blues of the Great Migration

The movement between 1916 and 1921 of a half million African Americans from the South to cities in the North and West was known as the Great Migration. Black migrants told their stories in many forms from letters to poems to paintings. Music offered one of the most original forms in which the migration narrative was told.“Times Is Gettin Harder” (a 1940 recording of an older blues tune by Lucious Curtis) described various incidents from racial injustice to economic hardship that prompted one man’s journey away from the land of “cotton and corn.”

Listen to Audio:

Times is gettin' harder,

Money’s gettin' scarce.

Soon as I gather my cotton and corn,

I’m bound to leave this place.

White folks sittin' in the parlor,

Eatin' that cake and cream,

Nigger’s way down to the kitchen,

Squabblin' over turnip greens.

Times is gettin' harder,

Money’s gettin' scarce.

Soon as I gather my cotton and corn,

I’m bound to leave this place.

Me and my brother was out.

Thought we’d have some fun.

He stole three chickens.

We began to run.

Times is gettin' harder,

Money’s gettin' scarce.

Soon as I gather my cotton and corn

I’m bound to leave this place.

Source: Written by Lucious Curtis, 1940. From Mississippi River Blues Vol. 1, Matchbox label reissue.

See Also:"Sir I Will Thank You with All My Heart":
Seven Letters from the Great Migration