Song 7: Gillian Welch, “Hard Times” (2011)Posted: January 7, 2013
I’ll be honest: this song slays me. I’ve always had a soft spot for Gillian Welch’s voice, and in this song she outdoes herself. It’s not a flashy voice, obviously, and that’s why it’s so effective here. She also just writes one hell of a song. Is there a better description of the relentlessness of time than “That big machine is just picking up speed”?
Musically, I think this song is just gorgeous, especially the chorus and the way its second line (for example, “We’re gonna make it yet”) inches up hopefully before the minor chord of the title phrase. And guitarist David Rawlings continues to be one of the most underrated players in the business.
I’ve heard this song countless times, but I didn’t pay much attention to the undercurrent of celebration until today. Those Asheville boys turning up their old-time noise, the ragtime kids with their dusty old horns, all of us trying to defy the passage of time. It won’t ultimately work, but it sure helps.