The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #93871   Message #1810882
Posted By: Joe Offer
16-Aug-06 - 01:56 AM
Thread Name: Origins: Rigs of the Time / Rigs of the Times
Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Trad. - Rigs of the Time
I'm surprised we haven't explored this song more thoroughly. The previous thread just had Dan Keding's message (above) and a discussion of how to search the Digital Tradition. It's an interesting song, but I have to say that I've had trouble getting the tune down. There's something about it that give me fits. Here's the Traditional Ballad Index entry on this song:

Rigs of the Times, The

DESCRIPTION: Chorus: "Honesty's all out of fashion; These are the rigs of the times...." Detailing all the sharp business practices of the day, e.g. the butcher who charges two shillings a pound "and thinks it no sin" -- while placing his thumb on the scale!
AUTHOR: unknown
EARLIEST DATE: 1905 (Belden)
KEYWORDS: hardtimes poverty lie money landlord
FOUND IN: Britain(England(Lond,South)) US(MA,MW,NW,Ro,SE,So) Canada(Newf) Australia
REFERENCES (22 citations):
Kennedy 237, "The Rigs of the Time" (1 text, 1 tune)
Palmer-ECS, #25, "The Rigs of the Time" (1 text, 1 tune)
Palmer-Painful, #13, "The rigs of the times" (1 text, 1 tune)
Belden, pp. 433-434, "Song of the Times" (1 text)
BrownIII 332, "Hard Times" (2 texts plus a fragment and mention of 1 more)
BrownSchinhanV 332, "Hard TImes" (2 tunes plus text excerpts)
Hudson 89, pp. 215-216, "Hard Times" (1 text)
Gardner/Chickering ,184 ""Hard Times (1 text, 1 tune)
Welsch, pp. 51-53, "Hard Times" (1 text)
Hubbard, #186, "Hard Times" (3 texts)
Lomax-ABFS, pp. 332-334, "Hard Times" (1 text)
Fahey-Eureka, pp. 14-16, "The Rigs of the Times" (1 text, 1 tune)
Fowke/Mills/Blume, pp. 206-208, "Hard, Hard Times" (1 text, 1 tune -- a Canadian adaptation created by William James Emberly in 1936 to describe conditions in the Great Depression)
Peacock, pp. 57-59, "Hard Times" (1 text, 2 tunes)
Fowke/MacMillan 17, "Hard, Hard Times" (1 text, 1 tune)
JHCox 183, "Hard Times" (1 text, the first six verses being "Courting the Widow's Daughter" and the last seven being a reduced version, minus the chorus, of "The Rigs of the Times")
Owens-2ed, pp. 113-114, "Hard Times" (1 text, 1 tune)
Blondahl, pp. 13-14, "Hard, Hard Times" (1 text, 1 tune)
Doyle3, pp. 28-29, "Hard, Hard Times" (1 text, 1 tune)
Doyle4, pp. 46-47, "Hard, Hard Times" (1 text, 1 tune)
Doyle5, pp. 24-25, "Hard, Hard Times" (1 text, 1 tune)

Roud #876
Omar Blondahl, "Hard, Hard Times" (on NFOBlondahl01,NFOBlondahl02)
Ken Peacock, "Hard Times" (on NFKPeacock)
Ned Rice, "Hard Times" (on PeacockCDROM)
J. W. "Charger" Salmons & friends: "The Rigs of the Time" (on Lomax41, LomaxCD1741)
Pete Steele, "The Song of Hard Times" (on PSteele01)

cf. "Don't Come to Michigan" (lyrics)
cf. "Old David Ward" (lyrics)
cf. "How Can A Poor Man Stand Such Times and Live?" (subject)
cf. "The Steam Doctor" (lyrics)
cf. "Fine Times in Camp Number Three" (lyrics)
cf. "Here's First to Those Farmers" (theme)
cf. "The Mare and the Foal" (theme)
NOTES: Most scholars (e.g. Belden, Cox, Kennedy) assume that "The Rigs of the Times" (with chorus "Singing, Honesty's all out of fashion, These are the rigs of the times, times, me boys, These are the rigs of the times") is the same as "Hard Times" (with a short chorus such as "these times, these (hard/queer) times").
Personally, I'm not convinced, as the two seem to fall into very distinct groups. But because the equation is so common, I've followed it in the index. - RBW
Blondahl: "This ... was sent in by Paul Emberly, who informs that the lines were written by his late father." - BS
Last updated in version 4.1
File: K237

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The Ballad Index Copyright 2016 by Robert B. Waltz and David G. Engle.

Here's the entry from

And, for the record, here are the lyrics we have in the Digital Tradition, which come from Kennedy:


O, 'tis of an old butcher, I must bring him in.
He charge two shillings a pound, and thinks it no sin.
Slaps his thumb on the scale-weights and makes them go down,
He swears it's good weight yet it wants half a pound. Singing..

chorus: Honesty's all out of fashion
These are the rigs of the time,
Time, my boys
These are the rigs of the time.

Now the next is a baker, I must bring him in.
He charge fourpence a loaf and thinks it no sin.
When he do bring it in, is not bigger than your fist,
And the top of the loaf is popped off with the ye'st, Singing..

No wonder the butter be a shilling a pound
See the little farmer's daughters, how they ride up and down.
If you ask them the reason, they'll say: "Bone', alas,
There's a French war and the cows have no grass, Singing..

O the next is a publican, I must bring him in.
He charge fourpence a quart, he thinks it no sin.
When he do bring it in, the measure is short
The top of the pot is popped off with the froth, Singing..

Here's next to the tailor who skimps with our clothes,
And next the shoemaker who pinches our toes.
We've nought in our bellies, our bodies are bare
No wonder we've reason to curse and to swear, Singing..

Now the very best plan that I can find
Is to pop them all off in a high gale of wynd
And when they get up, the cloud it will bu'st
And the biggest old rascal come tumbling down first, singing..

From Kennedy, Folksongs of Britain and Ireland.
Recorded by Cooney, The Cheese Stands Alone, Folk-Legacy.
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