Well, rocks is my pillow,
the cold ground is my bed.
The highway is my home
so I might as well be dead.

Hard Luck Blues is a classic 1950 blues ballad. It's about a homeless man, abandoned by his friends and family, traveling from place to place. And, in classic blues fashion, it focuses on how he feels: his sadness, his pain, his depression.

In 2009, I spent a summer working at a mental health crisis center. The stories I heard there blur together in my memory. The teenage girl with two young children and a drug habit, living on her mother's couch; the high school dropout with a boyfriend in jail, living with any friend who'd take her in for the night; the single mom, evicted from yet another apartment, bringing her preteen with her to the shelter. These are the cases I remember, flashbulbs in a long stream of hard luck stories.