Who Wrote and Recorded "If I Had a Hammer"?"If I Had a Hammer" (purchase/download) was written by Pete Seeger and Lee Hays in 1949, and was first recorded by their band the Weavers. More than a decade later, in 1962, Peter, Paul and Mary recorded the song and enjoyed much greater success with their version. Trini Lopez recorded it a year later. Numerous other artists from around the world have recorded versions the song throughout the years.
"If I Had a Hammer" in ContextWhen Seeger and Hays wrote the song, it was a bit of anthemic support for the emerging progressive movement, which was focused heavily on labor rights, among other things. The lyrics allude to the labor movement, taking symbols from the work place and turning them into calls for action toward equality.
The first two verses talk about re-purposing a hammer and a work bell. The third verse talks about "ha[ving] a song," which is likely a reference to the history of labor songs, as well as a symbol of people collectively using their voices to speak out on their own behalf. The final verse reminds the listener that they already have a hammer, a bell and a song, and it's up to them how they use those items.