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"If I Had a Hammer (The Hammer Song)" is a song written by Pete Seeger and Lee Hays. It was written in 1949 in support of the progressive movement, and was first recorded by The Weavers, a folk music quartet composed of Seeger, Hays, Ronnie Gilbert and Fred Hellerman, and then by Peter, Paul and Mary.
The Weavers released the song under the title "The Hammer Song" as a 78 single in March, 1950 on Hootenanny Records, 101-A, backed with "Banks of Marble".
Original 1950 release by The Weavers on Hootenanny Records, 101-A.
Early versions 
The song was first performed publicly by Pete Seeger and Lee Hays on June 3, 1949 at St. Nicholas Arena on W. 66th Street in New York at a testimonial dinner for the leaders of the Communist Party of the United States, who were then on trial in federal court, charged with violating the Smith Act by advocating the overthrow of the U.S. government. It was not particularly successful when it was first released, likely due in part to the political climate of the time. It fared notably better when it was recorded by Peter, Paul and Mary more than a decade later. Their cover of the song, released in August 1962, became a Top 10 hit.
Other versions 
The song "If I Had a Hammer" was a Civil Rights anthem of the American Civil Rights movement.
Wikileaks chose the song as their "Wikileaks song".
In popular culture 
- Hall of Fame baseball player Hank Aaron, whose nicknames included "Hammerin' Hank" and "The Hammer," titled his autobiography, I Had a Hammer.
- "If I Had a Hammer" is a fourth season episode of Dexter in which the eponymous character is investigating a serial killer's use of a hammer.
- "If I Had a Tail-Hammer" is a second season episode of Digimon.
- Peter, Paul & Mary's version of the song is used in the film Confessions of a Dangerous Mind during a sequence in which "Gong Show" host Chuck Barris (Sam Rockwell) has an on-air nervous breakdown due to his years as a CIA assassin, and visualizes the entire audience as dead bodies. The song is also sung by contestants earlier in the movie during a tryout for a game show prototype that later became the Gong Show.
- In May 2005, colleagues of then-House Majority Leader Tom DeLay sang "If I Had a Hammer" at a dinner held in support of him during the investigation that eventually led to his indictment on charges of money laundering and conspiracy to violate election law. The song was chosen in reference to his nickname "The Hammer." On The Daily Show, Jon Stewart joked about the dissonance between the song's progressive history and DeLay's conservative politics, saying, "If Tom DeLay actually had a hammer, he would bludgeon Pete Seeger to death."
- "If Al Had a Hammer" is a sixth season episode of Married... with Children. Also, in a fifth season episode, "You Better Shop Around, Part I," Marcy tells Al: We sang our favorite folk songs like, "If I Had A Hammer, I'd Drive It Through Al Bundy's Skull."
- "Steve's Hammer (For Pete)" by Steve Earle references Seeger's song through its title and its content.
- Israeli hip-hop band "Hadag Nahash" based its top-chart single "אף אחד" ("Nobody") on the song.
- Harley Quinn sings the first verse of the song while fighting in the video game DC Universe Online, replacing the last line by "all over your skull".
External resources