I thought this song more-or-less came from Lee Hays, but the Traditional Ballad Index says there are earlier versions:
Times Gettin' HardDESCRIPTION: "Times gettin' hard, boys, Money's gettin' scarce. If times don't get much better, boys, I'm bound to leave this place." "Take my true love by the hand, lead her through the town...." The singer prepares to depart for (California?) where times are better
EARLIEST DATE: 1927 (Sandburg; recording by Jaybird Coleman)
KEYWORDS: hardtimes poverty exile
FOUND IN: US(SE)
REFERENCES (2 citations):
Sandburg, p. 242, "Times Gettin Hard, Boys" (1 short text, 1 tune)
Silber-FSWB, p. 117, "Times Are Getting Hard" (1 text)
Jaybird Coleman, "Times Gettin' Hard -- Work's Been Gettin' Scarce" (Gennett, unissued; rec. 1927)
Pete Seeger, "Time's A-getting Hard" (on PeteSeeger06, PeteSeegerCD01) (on PeteSeeger26)
Wiggins Bros., "Times Am Gittin' Hard" (Brunswick 260, 1928)
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The Ballad Index Copyright 2015 by Robert B. Waltz and David G. Engle.
Here are the Digital Tradition lyrics, arranged by Hays:
TIMES ARE GETTING HARD, BOYS
(Trad.; arranged and expanded by Lee Hays)
Times are getting hard, boys,
Money's getting scarce
If things don't get no better, boys,
Gonna leave this place
Take my true love by the hand
Lead her thru the town.
Saying good-bye to everyone
Good-bye to everyone.
Take my bible from the bed
Shotgun from the wall
Take old Sal and hitch her up
The wagon for to haul.
Pile the chairs and beds up high
Let nothing drag the ground.
Sal can pull and we can push
We're bound to leave this town.
Made a crop a year ago
It withered to the ground
Tried to get some credit
But the banker turned me down
But I'm goin' to Californ-i-ay
Where everything is green
Goin' to have the best ole farm
That you have ever seen.
Copyright TRO, renewed 1977 Folkways Music Publishers Inc.