If I Had a Hammer

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"The Hammer Song"
Hammer Song The Weavers 1950.jpg
Original 1950 release by The Weavers on Hootenanny Records, 101-A.
Single by The Weavers
B-side"Banks of Marble"
Songwriter(s)Pete Seeger
Lee Hays
"If I Had a Hammer"
If I Had A Hammer Peter Paul Mary 45 1962.jpg
Single by Peter, Paul and Mary
Single by Peter, Paul and Mary
from the album Peter, Paul and Mary
B-side"Gone the Rainbow"
LabelWarner Bros.
Songwriter(s)Pete Seeger
Lee Hays
Producer(s)Albert Grossman
Milt Okun
Peter, Paul and Mary singles chronology
"Lemon Tree"
"If I Had a Hammer"
"Puff, the Magic Dragon"
"If I Had a Hammer"
If I Had A Hammer Trini Lopez 45 1963.jpg
Single by Trini Lopez
Single by Trini Lopez
from the album Trini Lopez at PJ's
B-side"Unchain My Heart"
GenreFolk rock
Songwriter(s)Pete Seeger
Lee Hays
Producer(s)Don Costa
Trini Lopez singles chronology
"If I Had a Hammer"
"Kansas City"

"If I Had a Hammer (The Hammer Song)" is a protest 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. It was a number 10 hit for Peter, Paul and Mary in 1962 and then went to number three a year later when recorded by Trini Lopez in 1963.

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".

Early versions[edit]

The song was first performed publicly by Pete Seeger and Lee Hays on June 3, 1949, at St. Nicholas Arena in New York City 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.[1] It was not particularly successful in commercial terms when it was first released. It was part of the three songs Seeger played as the warm-up act for Paul Robeson's September 4 concert near Peekskill, New York, which subsequently erupted into a notorious riot.[2]

Hit versions[edit]

It fared notably better in commercial terms when it was recorded by Peter, Paul and Mary twelve years later. Their version of the song, released in July 1962 off the group's debut self-titled album, became a Top 10 hit, and won the Grammy Awards for Best Folk Recording and Best Performance by a Vocal Group. Trini Lopez's 1963 single went to number three on the same Billboard chart. It was included on his album Trini Lopez at PJ's (Reprise R/RS 6093).[3]

Other versions[edit]


The song "If I Had a Hammer" was a freedom song of the civil rights movement.

WikiLeaks chose the song as its "WikiLeaks song".[8]


Peter, Paul and Mary
Chart (1962) Peak
US Billboard Hot 100[9] 10
US Cashbox Top 100[10] 13
Trini Lopez
Chart (1963) Peak
UK Singles (OCC)[11] 4
US Billboard Hot 100[12] 3
US Billboard Hot R&B Singles[13] 12


  1. ^ "Town Talk," The Daily Worker, June 1, 1949
  2. ^ Frillmann, Karen. "Today in History: Peekskill Riots". WYNC (New York), 4 September 2009. Accessed 25 January 2015.
  3. ^ Gilliland, John (1969). "Show 21 - Forty Miles of Bad Road: Some of the best from rock 'n' roll's dark ages. [Part 2]" (audio). Pop Chronicles. University of North Texas Libraries. Track 2.
  4. ^ "Datemi un Martello". YouTube.
  5. ^ Laing, Dave (December 21, 2011). "Ross MacManus Obituary". The Guardian. Retrieved 23 September 2017.
  6. ^ "Pongo en Tus Manos Abiertas - Victor Jara | Songs, Reviews, Credits". AllMusic. Retrieved 2020-03-23.
  7. ^ "Join the fight against extreme poverty". One.org. 27 June 2013. Retrieved 12 August 2020.
  8. ^ "Inspirational Material". WikiLeaks.org.
  9. ^ "Peter Paul Mary Chart History (Hot 100)". Billboard. Retrieved January 19, 2018.
  10. ^ "Cashbox Top 100: October 16, 1962". cashboxmagazine.com. Retrieved 2021-04-05.
  11. ^ "Trini Lopez: Artist Chart History". Official Charts Company.
  12. ^ "Trini Lopez Chart History (Hot 100)". Billboard. Retrieved January 19, 2018.
  13. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). Top R&B/Hip-Hop Singles: 1942-2004. Record Research. p. 360.

External links[edit]