Exclusive Daily Download: "Hard Times (Come Again No More)," Mavis Staples

An exclusive download from a Grammy-winning release.

Published August 25, 2006 7:01AM (EDT)

If the ability to write music that insinuates itself into the fabric of a culture is a mark of a great artist -- it was one of Brahms' most cherished (unachieved) goals -- then Stephen Foster, whose songs include "Camptown Races," "Jeanie With the Light Brown Hair" and "Old Folks at Home" (otherwise known as "Swanee River"), must surely be counted one of the greatest of American composers. But while we all know these songs, or at least would recognize them in an instant, there are few recorded versions out there that aren't just pure Americana kitsch, which is why the compilation "Beautiful Dreamer: The Songs of Stephen Foster," featuring 18 of his songs as performed by an impressive, if slightly unadventurous roster of artists including John Prine, Roger McGuinn, Alison Krauss and Raul Malo, is so welcome. One of the highlights is Mavis Staples' dignified, passionate take on "Hard Times (Come Again No More)," available here as an exclusive free download with the kind permission of American Roots Publishing.

-- T.B.

By Salon Staff

MORE FROM Salon Staff

Related Topics ------------------------------------------