Clinch Mountain Echo

The Stanley Brothers - I Worship You / Hard Times

(Mercury 70546) Mar 1955

I Worship You (earlier 45)
Hard Times (earlier 45) I Worship You (later 45) Hard Times (later 45) Billboard advert 26th Mar 1955

This single combines a couple of tracks from the Stanley's fourth and fifth session for Mercury.

'Billboard' magazine reviewed the release in their 5th March 1955 edition giving both sides a score of 73. I Worship You was described saying:- "The brothers have a slick piece of backwoods-type country material in two different tempos. They sing it smartly for a good country disk." While Hard Times was described as:- "Good string band instrumental here which should do nicely in country juke locations. It's good pickin' and bowin'."[1]

I Worship You is a fairly early composition by Ralph, divided into slow and fast sections, but the real highlight of the disc is the instrumental Hard Times which would become one of Ralph's most popular banjo pieces, second only to Clinch Mountain Backstep.

In "D" tuning, the tune is uncharacteristically complex for Ralph, and it seems he may have got at least part of it from CMB Lester Woodie and Wiley Birchfield, as Lester recalled in 2006:- The only song (or) tune that I did write or have a part in happened in the WCYB studio on a day off the road. I went over to parties (at the studio) a little and Wiley Birchfield come over with his banjo. Wiley was a pretty good picker. He was between jobs so Ralph took him in to give him some work on the Home Place. That day he said he had one part of a tune and wanted me to play the fiddle with him. I added a second part to it and I kinda liked it. In fact when we got the band together we played it, worked it out and played it on a few shows. We hadn't even given it a name then. A few years later I was in the Air Force and heard their recording of that tune. Ralph called it 'Hard Times'.[2]

Both sides of the single can now be found on The Complete Mercury Recordings 2xCD set.

PS: For 'Stanley style' banjo acolytes, tab for Hard Times can be found on the Homespun The Banjo Of Ralph Stanley: From Old-Time To Bluegrass DVD; the second edition of John Wright's 5-String Banjo Stanley Style booklet; and on Gary Bates' (aka Stanleytone) banjohangout page. The tune is also featured (without tab) on Steve Sparkman's 'Stanley Style Banjo' DVD.


For a detailed breakdown and background to the Stanley's session, check Gary B. Reid's The Music Of The Stanley Brothers book, 46-50 and 72.

Original Release:
Lead guitar:
I Worship You
28 Nov 1954
Mercury 70546 Carter Stanley
Ralph Stanley
Ralph 'Joe' Meadows
Bill Lowe
Lightning Chance

R. Stanley
Hard Times
29 Aug 1954
Mercury 70546 Carter Stanley
Ralph Stanley
Ralph 'Joe' Meadows
Bill Lowe
Lightning Chance
Charlie Cline

R. Stanley

Go To Top Of Page [1] https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=QRkEAAAAMBAJ&pg=PA34&dq=Mercury+70546+billboard+stanley&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiHqrCj5uPVAhWCK8AKHZIcDeEQ6AEILDAB#v=onepage&q=Mercury%2070546%20billboard%20stanley&f=false
[2] Lester Woodie email from 2006 quoted in David W. Johnson's book 'Lonesome Melodies - The Lives And Music Of The Stanley Brothers' (p. 122)