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There have been fine cover versions by Dick Gaughan and Richard Shindell.• IF I HAD A HAMMER (THE HAMMER SONG) An activist song written in 1949 by Pete Seeger and his band-mate from The Weavers, Lee Hays.It is one of Seeger's most covered songs, with versions by Trini Lopez, Sam Cooke, Peter, Paul and Mary, The Four Tops, Luther Vandross and even Leonard Nimoy.

Seeger (along with Frank Hamilton and Guy Carawan) adapted their version from several old gospel songs and a hymn, I'll Overcome, which had been sung by striking tobacco workers in South Carolina.

They copyrighted their version and dictated that all of the song’s royalties went to the “We Shall Overcome” Fund, administered by what is now the Highlander Research and Education Centre.

Seeger once said: "Nobody knows exactly who wrote the original.

Pete Seeger, who was born in New York on May 3, 1919, had an upbringing steeped in music.

His father, Charles, taught music at the University of California, Berkeley and his mother, Constance de Clyver Edson Seeger, was a concert violinist.

His half-sister, Peggy, would become an eminent folk musician alongside Ewan Mc Coll, and his half-brother Mike Seeger also became a folk singer.

Seeger, who has died at the age of 94, received a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award and a National Medal of Arts, and, in 1996, he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

The original was faster." In August 1963, Joan Baez led a crowd of more than a quarter of a million people in singing We Shall Overcome at the Lincoln Memorial, during the famous March on Washington.

• WAIST DEEP IN THE BIG MUDDY Pete Seeger wrote Waist Deep in the Big Muddy in protest at the conflict in Vietnam (a line about a dissenting sergeant being a 'nervous Nelly' was a veiled attack on President Lyndon Johnson).

Seeger performed the song on the television show The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour in September 1967 but it was cut by the CBS network.

The Smothers Brothers (comedians and musicians Tommy and Dick) kicked up a fuss about the censorship, and Seeger was allowed to return and sing it on the show in February 1968.

18 Comments

  1. There have been fine cover versions by Dick Gaughan and Richard Shindell.

  2. • IF I HAD A HAMMER (THE HAMMER SONG) An activist song written in 1949 by Pete Seeger and his band-mate from The Weavers, Lee Hays.

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