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Hard Times: Song Has Special Meaning At This Time Of Year


The song you’re hearing is  “Hard Times Come Again No More,” the Stephen Foster tune that is the theme of our “Hard Times” series.

This version comes from Beth Hamon, who lives in Northeast Portland.

Beth Hamon: “By day I am a co-owner in a bicycleshop, and on occasional weekends I am a music leader at Havurah Shalom, a Reconstructionist Jewish Community.  I learned the song believe it or not in Girl Scout camp when I was a kid and I was the song leader for my Girl Scout troop.”

Today Hamon is observing the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur. We asked her about the song’s meaning in light of Yom Kippur’s focus on atonement and reflection.

Beth Hamon: “I come from a people with a 5,000-plus year history of struggle and wrestling with hard questions and adversity, and the song took on a Jewish communal quality because really what Foster is saying here is get your head out of your navel and look around you and see that a) you are not alone in your struggle and b) there are people all around you engaged in the wrestling with life’s hard questions and with life’s challenges and the point of this is that we’re here to do it together.

“For me this economic time has beenchallenging because I’m striving to find the balance between worry and fear and a sense of well, I woke up today I’m still here, I have all this life to be thankful for still. And I think very difficult economic times challenge us tofind that balance between our fear and our hope.”

Beth Hamon, of Portland. Her versionof “Hard Times Come Again No More,” which you’re hearing now, is thelatest in our musical series.

What does this song mean to you, and what does your version of the song sound like? We’d love to hear your interpretation.

Send it to us at hardtimes@opb.org. To hear other versions of the song that have aired, and to find out more, go to opbnews.org/hardtimesmusic .

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