"If I Had a Hammer (The Hammer Song)" is a song written by Pete Seeger and Lee Hays. It was written in 1949 in support of the progressive movement, and was first recorded by The Weavers, a folk music quartet composed of Seeger, Hays, Ronnie Gilbert and Fred Hellerman, and then by Peter, Paul and Mary.
The Weavers released the song under the title "The Hammer Song" as a 78 single in March, 1950 on Hootenanny Records, 101-A, backed with "Banks of Marble".
The song was first performed publicly by Pete Seeger and Lee Hays on June 3, 1949 at St. Nicholas Arena on W. 66th Street in New York 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 when it was first released, likely due in part to the political climate of the time. It fared notably better when it was recorded by Peter, Paul and Mary more than a decade later. Their cover of the song, released in August 1962, became a Top 10 hit.
- Aretha Franklin recorded the song on her 1965 Columbia album Yeah!!! In Person.
- Ruthie Foster released a blues version of this song in her album Let It Burn.
- Claude François released his cover "Si j'avais un marteau" ("If I had a Hammer") in November 1963.
- Trini Lopez on his 1963 album, Trini Lopez at PJ's (Reprise R/RS 6093), which reached #3 in the USA
- Rita Pavone sang "Datemi un martello" ("Give me a hammer") in 1963, using the same theme, but without any political overtones.
- Bobby Darin recorded the song in 1963.
- Johnny Rivers recorded the song in 1965.
- Luther Vandross recorded the song on the 1996 collection For Our Children Too! - Celebrating the Life of Elizabeth Glazer.
- Mel Torme recorded the song in 1966 on the Right Now! album.
- The Four Tops recorded the song in 1966 and released it on their live album.
- The Seekers released the song in 1963.
- Leonard Nimoy, which appeared on his 1968 album, The Way I Feel.
- Folk Artist Víctor Jara also sang a cover titled "El Martillo" ("The hammer") on his 1969 album, Pongo En Tus Manos Abiertas.
- Tennessee Ernie Ford released the song on his 1971 The Folk Album.
- U-Roy recorded a very violent version of the song called "Hammering" in 1972.
- Hernaldo Zúñiga recorded a cover version in Spanish for the Mexican group Fandang titled "Dame Aquel Martillo" that was released in 1991.
- Sam Cooke recorded the song in concert.
- The Coasters released a version of the song.
- Les Surfs released another cover "Si j'avais un marteau."
- Lili Ivanova did a cover in Bulgarian of Pavone's version.
- Emil Dimitrov recorded a cover in Bulgarian of the Trini Lopez version.
- Kidsongs released a version on video and DVD on "Yankee Doodle Boy (AKA Sing Out America)."
- Brian Johnson recorded a version of the song.
- The Von Trapp Children recorded a version.
- Waldemar Matuška Kladivo recorded a version in Czech
- Andy Kane from UK television home decoration show Changing Rooms performed a version.
- Debbie Reynolds recorded a video of herself and dancers performing the song.