Hard Times in the Mill

Cotton mill workers. 1908

Here's a song of struggle in the cotton mills in the 1890's. It comes to us from the singing of Lessie Croker, a knitting mill worker from Columbia South Carolina, by way of Pete Seeger's "American Industrial Ballads" on Folkways Records. It was recorded by Pete, Hedy West and Joe Glazer in the 1960's.

Lyrics: 

Every morning just at five
Gotta get up, dead or alive
It's hard times in the mill my love
Hard times in the mill

Every mornin' right at six
Don't that ol' bell make you sick
Hard times in the mill my love
Hard times in the mill

The pulley got hot, the belt jumped off
Knocked Mr Guyan's derby off
It's hard times in the mill my love
Hard times in the mill

Section hand he thinks he's a man
He ain't got sense to pay off his hands
It's hard times in the mill my love
Hard times in the mill

My bobbin's all out, my end's all down
The doffer's in my alley an' I can't get around
It's hard times in the mill my love
Hard times in the mill

The section hand, standin' at the door
Ordering the sweepers to sweep up the floor
It's hard times in the mill my love
Hard times in the mill

An' every night when I go home
A piece o' cornbread an' an ol' jawbone
It's hard times in the mill my love
Hard times in the mill

Ain't it enough to break your heart
Have to work all day, an' at night it's dark
It's hard times in the mill my love
Hard times in the mill

Instruments: 
Tuning: 
G standard