Pete Seeger - IF I HAD A HAMMER

First performance:


Coverinfo

Bruce recorded 'If I had a hammer (The Hammer song) with The Seeger Sessions Band during the third of the three Seeger Sessions. He decided not to include it on the We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions album because, as he told The New Yorker's Alec Wilkinson, he felt that it asserted itself too forcefully among the other songs, possibly because it was so well known. The song was eventually released in 2018 on the various artists album Appleseed's 21st Anniversary: Roots And Branches. This album was released on 19 Oct 2018. It contains two Bruce Springsteen tracks, If I had a hammer (The Hammer Song) and We shall overcome, and Tom Russell's cover of Bruce Springsteen's Across the border. As far as it's known, Bruce Springsteen has never performed the song live. 
 
 
 

Songinfo

If I had a hammer ( The Hammer song ) is a song written by Pete Seeger and Lee Hays in 1949 and originally released by The Weavers as a single in March 1950.  It was written in 1949 in support of the progressive movement. 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.
 
 
 
The Weavers were formed in November 1948 by Ronnie Gilbert, Lee Hays, Fred Hellerman, and Pete Seeger. In 1940 and 1941, Hays and Seeger had co-founded a previous group, the Almanac Singers, which had promoted peace and isolationism during the Second World War, working with the American Peace Mobilization. It featured many songs opposing entry into the war by the U.S. In June 1941, the same month Germany invaded the Soviet Union, the APC changed its name to the American People's Committee and altered its focus to supporting U.S. entry into the war. The Almanacs supported the change and produced many pro-war songs urging the U.S. to fight on the side of the Allies. The group disbanded after the U.S. entered the war.  
 

Bruce on the artist

In 2006, Bruce released  the album ' We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions' . The album contains Springsteen's interpretation of thirteen folk music songs associated with Pete Seeger. The project began in late 1997 when Springsteen agreed to contribute a recording for an upcoming Pete Seeger tribute album on Appleseed Recordings. "Growing up a rock n' roll kid I didn't know a lot about Pete's music or the depth of his influence," Springsteen later wrote in the liner notes of his 2006 album. He headed to the record store, came back with an armful of Pete Seeger records, and proceeded to investigate and listen to his music.
 
More info on Springsteenlyrics
 

 
 
 
"As Pete and I traveled to Washington for President Obama's Inaugural Celebration, he told me the entire story of "We Shall Overcome". How it moved from a labor movement song and with Pete's inspiration had been adapted by the civil rights movement. That day as we sang "This Land Is Your Land" I looked at Pete, the first black president of the United States was seated to his right, and I thought of the incredible journey that Pete had taken. My own growing up in the sixties in towns scarred by race rioting made that moment nearly unbelievable and Pete had thirty extra years of struggle and real activism on his belt. He was ao happy that day, it was like, Pete, you outlasted the bastards, man!...It was so nice. At rehearsals the day before, it was freezing, like fifteen degrees and Pete was there; he had his flannel shirt on. I said, man, you better wear something besides that flannel shirt! He says, yeah, I got my longjohns on under this thing. And I asked him how he wanted to approach "This Land Is Your Land". It would be near the end of the show and all he said was, "Well, I know I want to sing all the verses, I want to sing all the ones that Woody wrote, especially the two that get left out, about private property and the relief office." I thought, of course, that's what Pete's done his whole life. He sings all the verses all the time, especially the ones that we'd like to leave out of our history as a people. At some point Pete Seeger decided he'd be a walking, singing reminder of all of America's history. He'd be a living archive of America's music and conscience, a testament of the power of song and culture to nudge history along, to push American events towards more humane and justified ends. He would have the audacity and the courage to sing in the voice of the people, and despite Pete's somewhat benign, grandfatherly appearance, he is a creature of a stubborn, defiant, and nasty optimism. Inside him he carries a steely toughness that belies that grandfatherly facade and it won't let him take a step back from the things he believes in. At 90, he remains a stealth dagger through the heart of our country's illusions about itself. Pete Seeger still sings all the verses all the time, and he reminds us of our immense failures as well as shining a light toward our better angels and the horizon where the country we've imagined and hold dear we hope awaits us. Now on top of it, he never wears it on his sleeve. He has become comfortable and casual in this immense role. He's funny and very eccentric. I'm gonna bring Tommy out, and the song Tommy Morello and I are about to sing I wrote in the mid-nineties and it started as a conversation I was having with myself. It was an attempt to regain my own moorings. Its last verse is the beautiful speech that Tom Joad whispers to his mother at the end of The Grapes of Wrath."

'Wherever there's a cop beatin' a guy
Wherever a hungry newborn baby cries
Where there's a fight 'gainst the blood and hatred in the air
Look for me Mom I'll be there'

"Well, Pete has always been there. For me that speech is always aspirational. For Pete, it's simply been a way of life. The singer in my song is in search of the ghost of Tom Joad. The spirit who has the guts and toughness to carry forth, to fight for and live their ideals. I'm happy to report that spirit, the very ghost of Tom Joad is with us in the flesh tonight. He'll be on this stage momentarily, he's gonna look an awful lot like your granddad who wears flannel shirts and funny hats. He's gonna look like your granddad if your granddad could kick your ass. ..

This is for Pete... "
 

Lyrics

If I had a hammer
I'd hammer in the morning
I'd hammer in the evening
All over this land
I'd hammer out danger
I'd hammer out a warning
I'd hammer out love between
My brothers and my sisters ah-aaah
All over this land
If I had a bell
I'd ring it in the morning
I'd ring it in the evening
All over this land
I'd ring out danger
I'd ring out a warning
I'd ring out love between
My brothers and my sisters ah-aaah
All over this land.
If I had a song
I'd sing it in the morning
I'd sing it in the evening
All over this land
I'd sing out danger
I'd sing out a warning
I'd sing out love between
My brothers and my sisters ah-aaah
All over this land.
I got a hammer
And I got a bell
I got a song to sing
All over this land
It's the hammer of justice
It's the bell of freedom
It's the song about love between
My brothers and my sisters
All over this land
All over this land
All over this land
All over this land
All over this land