Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Where's Your Hammer?

I've always said (and you know that I'm the ultimate authority) that songs are poetry set to music.  Depending on the song, you can find a lot of truth in the lyrics, which is why so many people have written and identify with songs over the ages.

On May 15, 1963,  the song  "If I Had a Hammer", won a Grammy for Peter, Paul and Mary.  Written by Pete Seeger and Lee Hays in 1949, it was a song that supported the progressive movement .  Like most folk songs, it was recorded by a number of people such as Johnny Cash, Sam Cooke, Trini Lopez, Aretha Franklin and of course, Peter, Paul and Mary.

The song was also an anthem of the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s.

The power of the song , is how the lyrics so clearly state that each of us has the power within us to make change.  We don't have to wait on others to make the first move.  At first glance, though, that may seem like the case:

"If I had a hammer/I'd hammer out love between my brothers and my sisters all over this land...."
The use of the conjunction "if" creates a subordinate clause that says if the singer had such equipment, he/she would do the following things.  The song starts out talking about all the things the singer would do "if" they had a hammer, a bell and a song.

By the end of the song, however, we see that he/she does have the equipment needed and thus can go out and make a mark in the world.  

"Well, I've got a hammer, and I've got a bell, and I've got a song to's the hammer of justice, it's the bell of freedom,  it's the song about love between my brothers and my sisters...."

Do you have a hammer?  A bell?  A song? All three? Then you are more than ready to effect change in your corner of the world.   

Do it.


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