If I Had a Hammer
|"The Hammer Song"|
|Single by The Weavers|
|B-side||"Banks of Marble"|
|"If I Had a Hammer"|
|Single by Peter, Paul and Mary|
|from the album Peter, Paul and Mary|
|B-side||"Gone the Rainbow"|
|Peter, Paul and Mary singles chronology|
|"If I Had a Hammer"|
|Single by Trini Lopez|
|from the album Trini Lopez at PJ's|
|B-side||"Unchain My Heart"|
|Trini Lopez singles chronology|
"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".
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. 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.
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).
- Dutch singer Rob de Nijs released a Dutch version, "Oh had ik 'n hamer", on Decca Records and an English version "If I had a hammer" on Fontana Records under the pseudonym "Rob Denis".
- French singer Claude François performed a version of the song in October 1963, with more consensual lyrics, titled "Si j'avais un marteau" and released on Philips Records, which he also performed on TV.
- Italian singer Rita Pavone performed a version of the song in 1964, titled "Datemi un Martello" ("Give me a Hammer") and released on RCA, which she also performed live on TV.
- Martha and the Vandellas perform it on their 1963 album Heat Wave.
- Ross MacManus, father of Elvis Costello, sang the song with the Joe Loss Orchestra on the BBC's Royal Variety Show in 1963.
- The Sam Cooke album Sam Cooke at the Copa (1964) contains a live version of the song.
- It was featured in the 1966 Broadway hit musical Wait a Minim! and included on the cast recording album.
- Cilla Black included the song as a regular part of her live concert repertoire from the mid-1960s onwards, incorporating audience participation with a comedy element. A performance of her version of the song is captured in the DVD release of the 1966 "Live At The Savoy" concert, released in 2015 as a package along with the UK and NZ number 1 compilation The Very Best of Cilla Black.
- Leonard Nimoy covered the song in 1968. It was republished in 1993 as part of the Highly Illogical compilation, and in 1997 as part of the Spaced Out compilation.
- Chilean singer Victor Jara included a Spanish-language version of the song titled "El martillo" (Spanish: The Hammer) on his 1969 album Pongo en tus manos abiertas.
- Johnny Cash released the song on his album Any Old Wind That Blows in 1972. Also released as a single, the song hit number 29 on the US country chart.
- Wanda Jackson released the song as a single in 1969. It was included on her album The Many Moods of Wanda Jackson. It reached number 41 on the US country chart.
- In Kidsongs: Sing Out America, which was released in 1986, the Kidsongs Kids' family ancestors sing this song to let both the black and white ones work and live together as brothers and sisters.
- In 2013, Richard Barone and Al Jardine recorded the song for the ONE Campaign's protest song project.
- In 2018, Jess & Matt covered the song on their album Songs from the Village.
|US Billboard Hot 100||10|
|US Cashbox Top 100||13|
|UK Singles (OCC)||4|
|US Billboard Hot 100||3|
|US Billboard Hot R&B Singles||12|
- "Town Talk," The Daily Worker, June 1, 1949
- Frillmann, Karen. "Today in History: Peekskill Riots". WYNC (New York), 4 September 2009. Accessed 25 January 2015.
- 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.
- "Datemi un Martello". YouTube.
- Laing, Dave (December 21, 2011). "Ross MacManus Obituary". The Guardian. Retrieved 23 September 2017.
- "Pongo en Tus Manos Abiertas - Victor Jara | Songs, Reviews, Credits". AllMusic. Retrieved 2020-03-23.
- "Join the fight against extreme poverty". One.org. 27 June 2013. Retrieved 12 August 2020.
- "Inspirational Material". WikiLeaks.org.
- "Peter Paul Mary Chart History (Hot 100)". Billboard. Retrieved January 19, 2018.
- "Cashbox Top 100: October 16, 1962". cashboxmagazine.com. Retrieved 2021-04-05.
- "Trini Lopez: Artist Chart History". Official Charts Company.
- "Trini Lopez Chart History (Hot 100)". Billboard. Retrieved January 19, 2018.
- Whitburn, Joel (2004). Top R&B/Hip-Hop Singles: 1942-2004. Record Research. p. 360.