Blind Alfred Reed

How Can a Poor Man Stand Such Times and Live?

LYRIC

[Verse 1]
There once was a time when everything was cheap
But now, prices almost puts a man to sleep
When we pay our grocery bill
We just feel like making our will
Tell me, how can a poor man stand such times and live?

[Verse 2]
I remember when dry goods were cheap as dirt
We could take two bits and buy a dandy shirt
Now, we pay three bucks or more
Maybe get a shirt that another man wore
Tell me, how can a poor man stand such times and live?

[Verse 3]
Well, I used to trade with a man by the name of Gray
Flour was fifty cents for a twenty-four pound bag
Now it's a dollar and a half beside
Just like a-skinning a flea for the hide
Tell me, how can a poor man stand such times and live?
[Verse 4]
Oh, the schools we have today ain't worth a cent
But they see to it that every child is sent
If we don't send everyday
We have a heavy fine to pay
Tell me, how can a poor man stand such times and live?

[Verse 5]
Prohibition's good if 'tis conducted right
There's no sense in shooting a man 'til he shows flight
Officers kill without a cause
And complain about funny laws
Tell me, how can a poor man stand such times and live?

[Verse 6]
Most all preachers preach for dough and not for souls
That's what keeps a poor man always in a hole
We can hardly get our breath
Taxed and schooled and preached to death
Tell me, how can a poor man stand such times and live?

[Verse 7]
Oh, it's time for every man to be awake
We pay fifty cents a pound when we ask for steak
When we get our package home
A little wad of paper with gristle and bone
Tell me, how can a poor man stand such times and live?
[Verse 8]
Well, the doctor comes around with a face so bright
And he says "In a little while, you'll be all right"
All he gives is a humbug pill
A dose of dope and a great big bill
Tell me, how can a poor man stand such times and live?

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About "How Can a Poor Man Stand Such Times and Live?"

One of our earliest recorded American protest songs, “How Can a Poor Man Stand Such Times and Live?” was written in 1929 as a commentary on the Great Depression. It was written and recorded in New York City by Blind Alfred Reed, and has been covered by numerous artists, including Bruce Springsteen and Ry Cooder.

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