Tales of Hard Times on Viking Twang

Written by on April 18, 2017


Viking Twang Show 124, April 18, 2017

Good morning, welcome to Viking Twang Episode 123. My name’s Randy Black; happy to see you as always.

 We’re into the third week of Spring Term and it’s probably getting difficult out there. I suspect that the first time someone in our species made up a song, it was about hard times. So we have an entire show today about working people trying to get by. But don’t worry: it won’t all be serious!

Here’s Fred Maddox to tell us what it’s all about.

1 – Turkey Red; W.C. Beck & the Portland Country Underground.

2 – If You Ain’t Got the Do-Re-Mi; Maddox Brothers and Rose. Woody Guthrie wrote the classic Dust Bowl song; Rose and her brothers recorded it on KFBK radio in Sacramento in 1940.

3 – Dear Okie; Doye O’Dell. O’Dell was a Texan who took this unfinished song by cowboy star Rudy Sooter in the studio in Hollywood in 1948 and finished writing it during the recording session.

4 – Pastures of Plenty; Woody Guthrie. He recorded this in 1941.

5 – California Cotton Fields; Merle Haggard. That’s from 1970.

6 – Leroy’s Dustbowl Blues; Steve Earle &the Del McCoury Band. From The Mountain, Steve’s 1999 collaboration with Del and the boys.

7 – Vanport 1948, Lewi Longmire & the Left Coast Roasters. From our local legend’s 2011 album, Tales of  the Left Cpast Roasters.


We haven’t been having great luck with our elected officials lately, huh? But Jimmy Martin has an idea about how to change that.


8 – Guitar Pickin’ President; Jimmy Martin & the Sunny Mountain Boys. From 1964.

9 – Tell Me Why You Like Roosevelt; McKinley Peebles. McKinley was a New York City street singer who performed this song as part of the Friends of Old Time Music series of concerts in New York in the early 1960s. The song was written by Otis Jackson, a Miami disc jockey, who first recorded it in 1946.

10 – The One On The Right is On The Left, Johnny Cash. This was written by Jack Clement; Johnny recorded it in November, 1965 and it went to number two on the country charts in 1966.

11 – Hallelujah, I’m A Bum; Utah Phillips. Harry McClintock wrote that, probably in 1897; this recording is from a concert in British Columbia in 1981 and put out on an album called We Have Fed You 1000 Times.


We’ve been to the Dust Bowl and the cotton fields; we’ll finish off in Appalachia. Here’s Darrell Scott and Tim O’Brien.


12 – Keep Your Dirty Lights On; Darrell Scott & Tim O’Brien. This is from their 2013 album, Memories and Moments.

13 – Which Side Are You On? Pete Seeger. This was written in 1931 by Florence Reese. The story is that the sheriff of Harlan County, J.H. Blair, invaded their home looking for her union activist husband, who was in hiding, and kept the family hostage all night. Immediately after he left, Florence wrote this song and it became a mine workers union anthem.

14 – Union Man; Blue Highway. Written by vocalist Tim Stafford for the band’s 2001 album, Still Climbing Mountains.

15 – Coal Mining Woman; Hazel Dickens.

16 – Hard Times; Tim O’Brien, Dirk Powell & John Herrmans. From their 1999 album, Songs from the Mountain.

17 – Daybreak in Dixie; The Countrypolitans.

18 – Miner’s Child; The Crooked Jades; From their 2000 album, Seven Sisters, a Kentucky Portrait.





  • Turkey Red
    W.C. Beck & the Portland Country Underground
  • If You Ain't Got the Do-Re-Mi
    The Maddox Brothers and Rose
    On The Air
  • Dear Okie
    Doye O'Dell
    Country & Western Music Hit Parade
  • Pastures of Plenty
    Woody Guthrie
    The Asch Recordings, Vol. 1-4
  • California Cottonfields
    Merle Haggard
    Hag/Someday We'll Look Back
  • Leroy's Dustbowl Blues
    Steve Earle & the Del McCoury Band
    The Mountain
  • Vanport 1948
    Lewi Longmire & the Left Coast Roasters
    Tales of the Left Coast Roasters
  • Guitar Picking President
    Jimmy Martin & the Sunny Mountain Boys
    Jimmy Martin & the Sunny Mountain Boys
  • Tell Me Why You Like Roosevelt
    McKinley Peebles
    Friends of Old Time Music
  • The One On The Right Is On The Left
    Johnny Cash
    The Essential Johnny Cash
  • Hallelujah, I'm A Bum!
    Utah Phillips
    We Have Fed You All A Thousand Years
  • Keep Your Dirty Lights On
    Darrell Scott & Tim O'Brien
    Memories and Moments
  • Which Side Are You On?
    Pete Seeger
    Pete Seeger's Greatest Hits
  • Union Man
    Blue Highway
    Still Climbing Mountains
  • Coal Mining Woman
    Hazel Dickens
    The Rough Guide to Bluegrass
  • Hard Times
    Dirk Powell, Tim O'Brien & John Herrmans
    Songs From The Mountain
  • Daybreak In Vegas
    Tired of Drowning
  • Miner's Child
    Crooked Jades
    Seven Sisters: A Kentucky Portrait

  • Show Notes & Show Blogs


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