G Bm C D I've seen the hands of laborers that lifted all the loads G Bm C D And the granite stuck to their fingers as they dug the canals and the roads Em Bm Now they're cleared and the bridges span C D The river paused for a power dam G Bm C D And now the hand of the laborer is reaching out to you Chorus: G Em C D G Em Oh the hands hands hands that worked to build land, land, your land D G Em C D G The labor of the woman and the man workin' with their hands Hands, hands, hands a-workin' with their hands I've seen the hands of the miners digging out the coal. The black dust stuck to their fingers as they lived their life in a hole. The rocks they're still under the ground, and now their mine is a-closin' down. And now the hand of the miner is reaching out to you. (Chorus) Well I've seen the hands of the lumberjacks; forests swaying in the breeze. And the splinters stuck to their fingers as lumber was torn from the trees. And the wood that came from the timber tall built your buildings from wall to wall. And now the hand of the lumberjack is reaching out to you. And I've seen the hands of the farmers plowin' across the fields. And the topsoil stuck to their fingers as the land was split by the steel. Just growing all they could grow, to fill your tables row after row. And now the hand of the farmer is reaching out to you. Oh the hands, hands, hands were working on the land, your land. The labor of the woman and the man working with their hands. Hands, hands, working with their hands.
This song and the following commentary was pubished in SingOut magazine.
"Hands" comes to these pages through Sonny Ochs, Phil's sister. A friend of hers, Peter Benson, gave her a tape of Phil's concert at the Gaslight in New York City on June 3, 1964. It,along with about 13 other songs rediscovered in a similar fashion, was never recorded by Phil. Jim Glover, of Middlebury, Ct, transcribed this song and is working on the remaining songs. Upon transcribing this song Jim recalled being there that evening. Jim writes: "The only thing that bothered me about the song, when I first heard it at the Gaslight and later when I listened to the tape, was that it never mentined or gave credit to women while it told the story of the people who built America. So, I changed the lyrics accordingly...it's been getting wonderful reactions from live audences." Once again, we have the folk process in action. A song that makes a valid statement, and appeals to a wide audience, can remain relevant for years without losing its original impact. We are planning to publish more of Phil's previously unreleased material in the future; but if you can't wait, the December, 1983 issue of Broadside contains a whole body of work by and about Phil--songs, letter, articles, etc.
Transcribed by Pam Raver
Chords supplied by James BarnettLast modified 20 Dec 98 by trent