Hard Times (James Taylor song)

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"Hard Times"
Dutch cover
Single by James Taylor
from the album Dad Loves His Work
B-side "Summer's Here"
Released 1981
Genre Soft rock
Length 3:10
Label Columbia Records
Writer(s) James Taylor
Producer(s) Peter Asher
James Taylor chronology
"Her Town Too"
"Hard Times"

"Hard Times" is a song written by James Taylor. It first appeared on his 1981 album Dad Loves His Work. It was also released as a single, as the follow up to the Top-20 hit "Her Town Too." It did not perform as well as its predecessor, reaching #72 on the Billboard Hot 100 and #23 on the Billboard Adult Contemporary chart.[1][2] The single's b-side, "Summer's Here," performed similarly on the Adult Contemporary chart, peaking at #25.[1]

Hard Times[edit]

Like several other songs from Dad Loves His Work, "Hard Times" was influenced by the impending breakup of Taylor's marriage to Carly Simon.[3] Fans heard the song as a message that the marriage was about to end.[4] According to Rolling Stone Magazine critic Don Shewey, it "explores marriage on the rocks."[5] The lyrics describe the difficulty for an "angry man" and a "hungry woman" to stay together.[3] They lament the way the pair hurt each other.[6]

Allmusic critic William Ruhlmann regarded both "Hard Times" and "Summer's Here" among the better songs on Dad Loves His Work, helping Taylor bounce back from his previous "spotty" album Flag.[7] Musician, Player, and Listener described it as sounding "more personal - especially as regards marital problems - than anything [Taylor] committed to wax in years."[8] Web critic David Bertrand Wilson called it a "charming low-key tune."[9] Michigan Daily critic Ari Roth stated that "Hard Times" "assert[s] a dependency and will to achievement that Taylor has never previously articulated."[10] Michael Hochandel of Schenectady Gazette reported that "Hard Times" received as much applause in 1981 live performaces as Taylor's classics.[11]

"Hard Times" was chosen for inclusion in the soundtrack to the 2002 PBS documentary Freedom: A History of Us.[12] Allmusic' William Ruhlmann lamented its exclusion from the 2000 compilation album Greatest Hits Volume 2.[13]

Summer's Here[edit]

The b-side of the "Hard Times" single, "Summer's Here" also performed well on the Adult Contemporary chart, peaking at #25.[1] "Summer's Here" entered the Adult Contemporary chart on August 1, 1981, while "Hard Times" was still in the Top 50.[14] "Summer's Here" performed even better on the Canadian Adult Contemporary chart, reaching #12.[15]

Montreal Gazette critic John Griffin described "Summer's Here" as "simply a goofy ode to 'my favorite time of year.'"[16] Although the character in the song states that summer is his favorite season, Taylor has claimed that this is just that character speaking, and that Taylor's own favorite season is the Fall and his favorite month is October.[3][17] The lyrics to "Summer's Here" incorporate a common trope in Taylor's songs, that of the open sea.[3]

Schenectady Gazette critic Michael Hochandel described the music of "Summer's Here" as reggae.[18] Musician, Player, and Listener similarly described it as having Caribbean influence, calling it a "momentary ray of sunshine."[19] Taylor biographer Timothy White called the song "infectious."[3] Terry Hazlet of the Observer-Reporter rated "Summer's Here" as the best song on Dad Loves His Work and "the closest Taylor came to his real roots," albeit because he considered it "simplistic" and because the focus on objects such as sandals, beer and hats "make the human element," which he found lacking on other songs on the album, "unnecessary."[20]


  1. ^ a b c "James Taylor Adult Constemporary". Billboard Magazine. Retrieved 2014-06-24. 
  2. ^ "James Taylor The Hot 100". Billboard Magazine. Retrieved 2014-06-24. 
  3. ^ a b c d e White, T. (2009). Long Ago And Far Away: James Taylor - His Life And Music. Omnibus Press. pp. 5, 276, 278. ISBN 9780857120069. 
  4. ^ Halperin, I. (2003). Fire and Rain. Citadel Press. p. 213. ISBN 0806523484. 
  5. ^ Shewey, D. (May 28, 1981). "Dad Loves His Work". Rolling Stone Magazine. Retrieved 2014-06-24. 
  6. ^ Labianca, E. (2004). Like a Rolling Stone. 40 anni di cantautori americani da Bob Dylan alle nuove generazioni. Giunti Edito. p. 82. ISBN 9788809037328. 
  7. ^ Ruhlmann, W. "Dad Loves His Work". Allmusic. Retrieved 2014-06-24. 
  8. ^ Musician, Player, and Listener. Amordian Press. 1981. 
  9. ^ Wilson, D.B. "James Taylor". Wilson & Alroy's Record Reviews. Retrieved 2014-06-24. 
  10. ^ Roth, A. (March 19, 1981). "James Taylor - Dad Loves His Work". Michigan Daily. p. 3. Retrieved 2014-06-24. 
  11. ^ Hochandel, M. (June 24, 1981). "James Taylor, Excellent Band Expertly Hail Summer at SPAC". Schenectady Gazette. p. 16. Retrieved 2014-06-24. 
  12. ^ Unterberger, R.. "Freedom: Songs from the Hearts of America". Allmusic. Retrieved 2014-06-24. 
  13. ^ Ruhlmann, W. "Greatest Hits Volume 2". Allmusic. Retrieved 2014-06-24. 
  14. ^ "Billboard Adult Contemporary Top 50". Billboard Magazine. August 1, 1981. p. 30. Retrieved 2014-06-24. 
  15. ^ "RPM Contemporary Adult". Library and Archives Canada. September 19, 1981. Retrieved 2014-06-24. 
  16. ^ Griffin, J. (May 2, 1981). "'Talk Mamphis' Says Plenty for Winchester". Montreal Gazette. p. 68. Retrieved 2014-06-24. 
  17. ^ White, T. (December 5, 1988). "A Portrait of the Artist". Billboard Magazine. p. 18. Retrieved 2014-06-24. 
  18. ^ Hochandel, M. (August 3, 1988). "Taylor Delights Audience at SPAC with Familiar, Melancholy Tunes". Schenectady Gazette. p. 7. Retrieved 2014-06-24. 
  19. ^ Musician, Player, and Listener. Amordian Press. 1981. Retrieved 2014-06-24. 
  20. ^ Hazlet, T. (April 8, 1981). "Disc Talk". Observer-Reporter. p. B-5. Retrieved 2014-06-24. 

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