HOW CAN A POOR MAN STAND SUCH TIMES AND LIVE?

Original Blind Alfred Reed version


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

Well I used to trade with a man by the name of Gray
Flour was fifty cents for a twenty-four pound bag
Now it's a dollar and a half beside
Just like a skinning off a flea for the hide
Tell me how can a poor man stand such times and live

Oh the schools we have today ain't worth a cent
But they see to it that every child is sent
If we don't send everyday
We have a heavy fine to pay
Tell me how can a poor man stand such times and live

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

Most our 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

Oh 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

Well the doctor comes around with a face all bright
And 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


Originally written in 1929 by Blind Alfred Reed who recorded it on 04 Dec 1929 in New York City and released as RCA VICTOR Vi V-40236. It had Blind Alfred Reed on fiddle and vocals and his son, Arville Reed, on guitar.

The above lyrics are for Blind Alfred Reed's original version. See Bruce Springsteen's live 13 Apr 2006 version (more details) and live 05 Jun 2006 version.

Available Versions

List of available versions of HOW CAN A POOR MAN STAND SUCH TIMES AND LIVE? on this website:

HOW CAN A POOR MAN STAND SUCH TIMES AND LIVE? [Live 13 Apr 2006 version]
HOW CAN A POOR MAN STAND SUCH TIMES AND LIVE? [Live 05 Jun 2006 version]
HOW CAN A POOR MAN STAND SUCH TIMES AND LIVE? [Live 18 Nov 2006 version]
HOW CAN A POOR MAN STAND SUCH TIMES AND LIVE? [Original Blind Alfred Reed version]

Page last updated: 02 May 2007