Good Times

The title “Good Times” is ironic for it expresses the “hard times” experienced in Cape Breton Island by many during the winter of 1922.

LYRICS

Twas in the winter of ‘22
When everything was looking blue
The snow lay thick upon the ground
And lots of people starving ‘round
We were told when the war was done
Nothing would be on the bum
Oh, what a change has taken place
Not even soap to wash your face

They tell us not steal or beg
Just stand up straight upon our legs
While they dictate what we’re to do
God only knows how we’ll get through
The war’s been fought and the war is won
Surely now we will not run
Stand by the union one and all
Sink or swim, rise or fall

Talk about living going down
The cheapest place in our old town
Ask forty cents for sirloin steak
It’s awfully small upon the plate
Nothing left to make a stew
Not even rabbits to help us through
Is this Cape Breton or is it not?
If it is, it’s awful hot

Children going up to bed
Often asking for more bread
Oh, God in Heaven look down from on high
Can we stand it, you and I?
Willing to work for a living wage
Not to be put down just as a slave
So we can look up and kindly be
We can, if we get lots of food and tea

Why do some have plenty and more
Of sugar and tea, a barrel and more
While we have so little I plainly can see
Three thirds what they have rightly belongs to you
And to me
For they get enough to lay something by
And it’s been taken from you and I
Will we stand for it, boys? I say no
Line up for battle to see them all go

MLH, 18 March 1922

By CHRIS MCDONALD

 CHRIS MCDONALD – VOCALS, BACKUP VOCALS AND ACOUSTIC GUITAR, RICHARD MACKINNON – BASS, STEVE MELNICK – PERCUSSION 

About Chris McDonald

Dr. Chris McDonald teaches in the History and Culture department at CBU. As an ethnomusicologist, he studies music in its cultural context. In 2009, he published a book about Canada’s famous rock trio Rush, Rush, Rock Music, and the Middle Class (Indiana University Press, 2009). More recently, he has done research on Celtic music and Cape Breton singer-songwriters. He can be found around and about Cape Breton accompanying fiddlers on his guitar or playing in rock and jazz bands.

Resources

We do not know much about the composer H.Gay, only that this song appeared in the Maritime Labour Herald on March 18, 1922.  The song, however, discusses  the post-World War One situation on Cape Breton Island that was supposed to be a time of  prosperity. Instead there is hunger, poverty, inequality and hopelessness. But it also asks for everyone to stay strong,  support the union and to fight against the injustices of the day.

The Ballad of Slim McInnis // The Ballad of Slim McInnis - Songs of Steel, Coal and Protest
  1. The Ballad of Slim McInnis // The Ballad of Slim McInnis - Songs of Steel, Coal and Protest
  2. Doscomocracy // Doscomocracy - Songs of Steel, Coal and Protest
  3. Trampin’ Down the Highway // Trampin’ Down the Highway - Songs of Steel, Coal and Protest
  4. Quaint Harbour // Quaint Harbour - Songs of Steel, Coal and Protest
  5. Blackheart’s of the Company // Blackheart’s of the Company - Songs of Steel, Coal and Protest
  6. Stand the Gaff // Stand the Gaff - Songs of Steel, Coal and Protest
  7. Michael’s Tune // Michael’s Tune - Songs of Steel, Coal and Protest
  8. Arise Ye Nova Scotia Slaves // Arise Ye Nova Scotia Slaves - Songs of Steel, Coal and Protest
  9. Whatever It Takes // Whatever It Takes - Songs of Steel, Coal and Protest
  10. The Wearing of the Red // The Wearing of the Red - Songs of Steel, Coal and Protest
  11. Down at Sydney Steel // Sydney Steel - Songs of Steel, Coal and Protest
  12. Stronger then Steel // Stronger then Steel - Songs of Steel, Coal and Protest
  13. Steel Winds // Steel Winds - Songs of Steel, Coal and Protest
  14. A Cape Breton Lament // A Cape Breton Lament - Songs of Steel, Coal and Protest
  15. An Seann Tigh Sgoil // An Seann Tigh Sgoil - Songs of Steel, Coal and Protest
  16. Friday Evening // Ian MacDougall - Songs of Steel, Coal and Protest
  17. The Voice of the Worker // The Voice of the Worker - Songs of Steel, Coal and Protest
  18. Daughters Awake // Daughters Awake - Songs of Steel, Coal and Protest
  19. Cape Breton Miner and Besco // Cape Breton Miner and Besco - Songs of Steel, Coal and Protest
  20. Miner’s Wife // Songs of Steel, Coal and Protest
  21. Steel Workers Lament // Songs of Steel, Coal and Protest