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How Can A Poor Man Stand Such Times and Live?

This song is by Deborah Holland and appears on the album The Panic Is On: Songs From the Great Depression (1997).

There once was a time when everything was cheap
But now prices nearly 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

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

Prohibition's good if it's conducted right
There's no sense shooting a man till he shows flight
Officers kill without a cause
Then complain about the funny laws
Tell me how can a poor man stand such times and live

Most all preachers preach for gold 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

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 a bone
Tell me how can a poor man stand such times and live

The doctor comes around with a face all bright
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

Written by:

Blind Alfred Reed