This song was written by Blind Alfred Reed of Floyd, Virginia. During his musical career he played dances, church meetings, recorded and taught music to children. Although he mostly played fiddle he also was proficient on guitar, banjo and mandolin. His composition “Wreck of the Virginian” got the attention of record executive Ralf Peer and he was invited to the famous “Bristol Sessions” in 1927 along with Jimmie Rogers and The Carter Family.
He wrote most of his songs from newspaper articles. He recorded “How Can a Poor Man Stand Such Times and Live” in 1929. He stopped playing in public in the late 1930’s and died in 1956 at age 76.
The following appeared in James Green’s book “The Devil Is Here in These Hills”:
Alfred Reed, a blind musician, had lived his entire life in West Virginia’s smokeless coalfields, where he worked as a lay Baptist preacher and as a fiddler who performed at county fairs and church socials. Wherever he went in 1929, Reed heard stories of how people suffered in the coal towns. Even the mine workers who still had jobs complained because they were paying higher prices at company stores with shrunken wages. Out of this experience, “Blind Alfred” recorded his hit tune “How Can A Poor Man Stand Such Times and Live?” A few days after the stock market crashed.