Grandma's Hands

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"Grandma's Hands"
Single by Bill Withers
from the album Just As I Am
Released 1971
Format 7" record
Genre Soul
Label Sussex
Writer(s) Bill Withers
Bill Withers singles chronology
"Ain't No Sunshine"
(1971)
"Grandma's Hands"
(1971)
"Lean on Me"
(1972)

"Grandma's Hands" is a song written by Bill Withers about his own grandmother. It was included on his first album Just as I Am (1971), and was released as a single, reaching number 18 on the Best Selling Soul Singles chart and 42 on the Billboard Hot 100.[1] The song was produced by Booker T. Jones and also featured drummer Al Jackson, Jr. and bassist Duck Dunn from Booker T. & the MG's.

Lyrics[edit]

Withers' maternal grandfather, Grackus Monroe Galloway, had been born into slavery. As a boy Withers would attend church with his grandmother, Lula, where she would sing and clap along with the hymns. He later said: "It was spontaneous singing, there was nothing programmed. People got up and sang and everybody would join in. It was my favourite kind of singing."[2]

A central theme of the song is the protective and nurturing force of the hands, as expressed in the last verse:

"Grandma's hands used to hand me piece of candy.
Grandma's hands picked me up each time I fell.
Grandma's hands, boy they really came in handy
She'd say, “ Mattie don't you whip that boy.
What you want to spank him for?
He didn't drop no apple core,”
But I don't have Grandma anymore,
If I get to heaven I'll look for
Grandma's hands.
Um ,mm, mm."

Cover versions[edit]

The song has since been covered by many other artists, including Keb' Mo', Al Jarreau, Merry Clayton, Livingston Taylor, The Staple Singers, Gladys Knight, Barbra Streisand, Will Downing, Take 6, Josh Garrels,[3] Marti Pellow, Starsailor, Gil Scott-Heron, Everlast, Jeff Lorber, Paddy Casey in Today FM's Even Better Than The Real Thing and Ron Kenoly. It is also sampled for the hook of Blackstreet's "No Diggity" and "Shout" by Shout for England.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Bill Withers - Billboard Singles on allmusic.com
  2. ^ Rock and Pop Features (2010-08-10). "Bill Withers interview". Telegraph. Retrieved 2014-06-07. 
  3. ^ "Mason Jar Music : Decoration Day, Volume 2 | Free Music Download". Noisetrade.com. Retrieved 2014-06-07. 

External links[edit]