Hard Times

Album: Blue Over You (1952)
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Songfacts®:

  • The book Hound Dog: The Leiber & Stoller Autobiography gives this as the third produced song by the songwriting team of Leiber and Stoller. The year was 1952. They had sold their first two songs to Modern Records, and this gave them the confidence to audition "Hard Times" for producer Maxwell Davis at Aladdin Records.

    When Charles Brown met with Leiber and Stoller in the studio to try out the song, the songwriters noticed an inner tube on the bench in front of the Baldwin piano. Brown had to explain that this was due to the hemorrhoid operation he had just undergone.
  • Regarding the success of this single, producer Lester Sills reported, "I've been to all my stops, all the places where they sell records - Wollworth's, Music City, the shoeshine stands, the candy stores - and everyone's playing it."
  • The original Aladdin recording of "Hard Times" features Jerry Leiber's name misspelled as "Lieber" on the label.
  • In Charles Brown's day, he was equal in popularity with Nat "King" Cole. Beginning in 1945, he had a string of hits with moderate success, including "Drifting Blues," "Get Yourself Another Fool," "Black Night," and "Trouble Blues." His star faded by 1960, as he was unable to keep up with the sudden uprising of Rock and Roll. He was lucky enough to have a comeback in 1990 when he went on tour with Bonnie Raitt. This second run of popularity gave him ever greater success, earning several Grammy Award nominations.

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