If I Had a Hammer
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|"The Hammer Song"|
Original 1950 release by The Weavers on Hootenanny Records, 101-A.
|Single by The Weavers|
|B-side||"Banks of Marble"|
|"If I Had a Hammer"|
Single by Peter, Paul and Mary
|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
|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 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.
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 riot.
It fared notably better in commercial terms when it was recorded by Peter, Paul and Mary a dozen years later. Their cover of the song, released in August 1962, became a Top 10 hit. 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).
Foreign language versions
|Italian||"Datemi un martello"||Rita Pavone|
|French||"Si j'avais un marteau"||Claude François, Les Surfs|
|Bulgarian||"Ako imah chuk"||Emil Dimitrov|
|Spanish||"El martillo"||Victor Jara|
|Arabic||"Law endi shekoush"||Mayada|
|Hebrew||"Patish Lu Haya Li" (פטיש לו היה לי)||Geula Gil|
|Dutch||"Oh, had ik 'n hamer"||Rob de Nijs|
- 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.
- Sam Cooke recorded it on his 1964 live album Sam Cooke at the Copa and RCA Victor released it as a 45 single, 47-8934, in September, 1966.
- Aretha Franklin recorded the song on her Yeah! album.
- 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.
- Martha and the Vandellas in 1963 on the Motown Records album Heatwave and a live recording in 1965 in Paris on the Motortown Revue in Paris collection.
- Peter, Paul and Mary released the song as a single in 1962, reaching #10 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.
- The Limeliters
- Bobby Rydell's version of "If I Had a Hammer" from the 1964 Cameo album The Top Hits of 1963 Sung By Bobby Rydell. This is a cover of the Trini Lopez version.
- Nicky Thomas as a Trojan Records 45 single in 1970.
- Lorraine Ellison as a Warner Bros. 45 single, 5895.
- Lane Relations as a 45 single on Arctic 124.
- The Kidsongs Kids covered the song in 1986 on their Kidsongs video "Sing Out, America!".
- Willie Hightower on the Capitol Records album If I Had A Hammer, ST 367.
- Luther Vandross on the 2007 album Every Child Deserves a Lifetime.
- Rob De Nijs and The Lords, 1963 Fontana EP.
- Arlo Guthrie at the 1994 Kennedy Center Honors.
- John Mellencamp in 2009 at Madison Square Garden.
- German pianist and bandleader Horst Jankowski in 1977.
- German trumpeter James Last in a medley with "America" and "Lucky Lips" from the album Hammond A Go Go, Vol. 1.
- The Soul Stirrers in a gospel version.
- Albertina Walker in a gospel version.
- Doc Severinsen in an arrangement for trumpet and orchestra.
- Debbie Reynolds
- Leonard Nimoy on the 1968 album The Way I Feel.
- Nanci Griffith
- The Seekers on their 1963 album, Introducing the Seekers
- The Brothers Four
- Percy Faith
- Enoch Light
- Betty Willis in 1965 in a recording produced and arranged by Leon Russell released as a Phil-Dan 45 single.
- Blind Boys of Alabama
- AC/DC lead singer Brian Johnson on the 2010 various artists compilation CD Love & Peace: Greatest Hits for Kids on Rhino.
- "World Famous" Coasters in 1976 as a 45 single on American International Artists, AIA 1122.
- Victor Jara on the 1969 album Pongo en tus Manos Abiertas, translated to Spanish as "El Martillo".
- Richard Barone and Al Jardine recorded a version for the ONE Campaign in June 2013
- Claude François translated the song to French as Si j'avais un marteau in 1963.
- Fandango released Spanish language version "Dame Aquel Martillo" in 1990 for their album Volver A Ser Feliz
Madonna performed the song at a 2016 acoustic concert in New York in support of Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign.
- "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.
- "Adaptations of The Hammer Song by The Weavers - SecondHandSongs".
- "If I Had A Hammer".
- Gilliland, John (1969). "Show 19 - Blowin' in the Wind: Pop discovers folk music. [Part 2]" (audio). Pop Chronicles. University of North Texas Libraries.
- "Inspirational Material".