Lyrics & Knowledge Personal Pages Record Shop Auction Links Radio & Media Kids Membership Help
The Mudcat Cafemuddy

Post to this Thread - Sort Descending - Printer Friendly - Home


Lyr Req: Gender-neut lyrics for One Man's Hands?

DigiTrad:
ONE MAN'S HANDS


Related threads:
ADD: Songs by Alex Comfort (1920-2000) (5)
Lyr Add: I'll Tell You Where to Put It If You Like (18)
Lyr Req: One Man's Hands (Kevin Becker version) (5)


LadyThorn 14 Jan 17 - 02:41 AM
BobL 14 Jan 17 - 04:00 AM
GUEST 14 Jan 17 - 04:07 AM
Stower 14 Jan 17 - 04:53 AM
Long Firm Freddie 14 Jan 17 - 05:02 AM
Bonzo3legs 14 Jan 17 - 05:33 AM
GUEST 14 Jan 17 - 07:02 AM
Bonzo3legs 14 Jan 17 - 08:03 AM
Stower 14 Jan 17 - 10:10 AM
Bonzo3legs 14 Jan 17 - 10:51 AM
Mrrzy 14 Jan 17 - 11:36 AM
leeneia 14 Jan 17 - 11:42 AM
Joe Offer 14 Jan 17 - 11:47 AM
Long Firm Freddie 14 Jan 17 - 12:46 PM
Thompson 14 Jan 17 - 01:15 PM
leeneia 14 Jan 17 - 02:16 PM
LadyThorn 14 Jan 17 - 02:47 PM
Bonzo3legs 14 Jan 17 - 05:54 PM
Jeri 14 Jan 17 - 06:41 PM
Joe Offer 15 Jan 17 - 02:18 AM
Joe Offer 15 Jan 17 - 02:29 AM
Long Firm Freddie 15 Jan 17 - 02:38 AM
Joe Offer 15 Jan 17 - 02:46 AM
Bonzo3legs 15 Jan 17 - 09:35 AM
Share Thread
more
Lyrics & Knowledge Search [Advanced]
DT  Forum
Sort (Forum) by:relevance date
DT Lyrics:









Subject: Lyr Req: Gender-neut lyrics for One Man's Hands?
From: LadyThorn
Date: 14 Jan 17 - 02:41 AM

Hello!

I have been asked to sing One Man's Hands for a rally next week, but the request is for gender-neutral lyrics. I know there must be some out there, and a wealth of creative souls with ideas. Any help is greatly appreciated!

Cheers,
~LadyThorn


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Gender-neut lyrics for One Man's Hands?
From: BobL
Date: 14 Jan 17 - 04:00 AM

Don't forget that words like "man" have two meanings, one of which is gender-inclusive and one isn't. As with other words with different meanings, it's up to reader/listener to determine which one is intended. If they can't tell the difference, shame on them - this is PRIMARY SCHOOL stuff, at least it was when I was taught it.

Incidentally "hand" is another polyseme (look it up!) but is it gender-specific when referring to a manual worker?


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Gender-neut lyrics for One Man's Hands?
From: GUEST
Date: 14 Jan 17 - 04:07 AM

I suggest you refuse the request and tell them to get someone else.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Gender-neut lyrics for One Man's Hands?
From: Stower
Date: 14 Jan 17 - 04:53 AM

BobL, the argument about using 'man' or 'men' as an inclusive term has been, since the 1960s, that it isn't and never has been neutral, and goes back to a culture where the man was the head of the family and all members of that family shared his extended identity. For example (and I can't remember now which book I read this in back in the day), there are 50 people in a room, 49 women and 1 man. We use the sentence, 'There are 50 men in a room', thinking it is neutral. The women have disappeared.

LadyThorn, you have two great difficulties. The problem with a song like One Man's Hands is that it is so familiar in its original form that changing the words is likely to jar severely. Making something that sounds good enough fit the scansion seems impossible: Each one's hands? A person's hands? etc. etc. They all sound awful. There are plenty of good songs to be sung at rallies. If it were me, I'd explain and choose another.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Gender-neut lyrics for One Man's Hands?
From: Long Firm Freddie
Date: 14 Jan 17 - 05:02 AM

From the Portside website:

Portside: Tributes to Pete Seeger

"Pete used to sing the song "One Man's Hands." Alice and I did so, too, as we drove between Youngstown and Pittsburgh. One day Alice said, "That's sexist!" She suggested that the song begin, "Just my hands/Just your hands/Can't tear a prison down," etc. We wrote to Pete about it. In the next edition of his songbook it appeared with the new words!

Staughton Lynd"

LFF


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Gender-neut lyrics for One Man's Hands?
From: Bonzo3legs
Date: 14 Jan 17 - 05:33 AM

Only idiots want gender neutral, quite unbelievable!!!


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Gender-neut lyrics for One Man's Hands?
From: GUEST
Date: 14 Jan 17 - 07:02 AM

Well said that................... person


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Gender-neut lyrics for One Man's Hands?
From: Bonzo3legs
Date: 14 Jan 17 - 08:03 AM

Must be for the lesbian Taliban!!


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Gender-neut lyrics for One Man's Hands?
From: Stower
Date: 14 Jan 17 - 10:10 AM

I can see you have an open mind and are ready for a respectful discussion.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Gender-neut lyrics for One Man's Hands?
From: Bonzo3legs
Date: 14 Jan 17 - 10:51 AM

We have masculine and feminine, it is what it is. Just because we don't have masculine and feminine format in the English language, and more's the pity as many languages do, it gives these cranks the idea that everything is neuter which is absolute rubbish.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Gender-neut lyrics for One Man's Hands?
From: Mrrzy
Date: 14 Jan 17 - 11:36 AM

Oh, for crying out loud. Balancing men and women isn't enough for some - it can still be exclusionary. So let's try:

Everywhere it says One man's or one woman's you can say Just one's blah blah

Top that!


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Gender-neut lyrics for One Man's Hands?
From: leeneia
Date: 14 Jan 17 - 11:42 AM

Hi, Lady Thorn. Here's an idea. You will have to use two quick notes where only one used to be. No big deal.

ORIGINAL
1. One man's hands can't build a world of peace
A woman's hands can't build a world of peace

NEW
1. One pair of hands can't build a world of peace.
One set of hands....

Use this pattern for hands, eyes, ears


ORIGINAL

4. One man's words can't set a people free
A woman's words can't set a people free

NEW
One person's words can't set a people free
One speaker's words....

ORIGINAL
5. One man's heart can't fill the world with love
A woman's heart can't fill the world with love

NEW

One human heart can't fill the world with love
One person's heart can't fill............


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Gender-neut lyrics for One Man's Hands?
From: Joe Offer
Date: 14 Jan 17 - 11:47 AM

One way that I have heard is:

Just your hands can't tear a prison down
Just my hands can't tear a prison down
But if two and two and fifty make a million...

Also see the Kevin Becker version, cross link above.
Lyricist Alex Comfort, by the way, is best-known for his well-illustrated sex manual, The Joy of Sex.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Gender-neut lyrics for One Man's Hands?
From: Long Firm Freddie
Date: 14 Jan 17 - 12:46 PM

I just took a look in Pete Seeger's book "Where Have All The Flowers Gone?" and he does indeed give the lyrics as adapted by Staughton Lynd (which is the version Joe quotes.) Pete says "Today I make so bold as to keep Alex's great three syllable title but amend the rest of the words".

I suppose we need to distinguish between a song referring to the neuter gender (which doesn't make sense in the context of this song) and a song being gender neutral (which does).

LFF


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Gender-neut lyrics for One Man's Hands?
From: Thompson
Date: 14 Jan 17 - 01:15 PM

Put me down for the idiots' side, please. When shelves of toys for girls are all pink and mostly boring, and shelves of toys for boys are all blue and mostly interesting, I want to put my boot straight through all the sexist assumptions. If I'm ever lucky enough to get a granddaughter, I hope she grows up to be a builder or an engineer (or if she wants, a nurse or a cook), but I hope she doesn't have to listen to people singing songs that put her firmly on the pink shelf with a nice pair of pink psychological handcuffs holding her there.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Gender-neut lyrics for One Man's Hands?
From: leeneia
Date: 14 Jan 17 - 02:16 PM

I hope Lady Thorn comes back to discover that two people were interested in helping her with the song.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Gender-neut lyrics for One Man's Hands?
From: LadyThorn
Date: 14 Jan 17 - 02:47 PM

Thank you all for the suggestions. I am still mulling it over, and the question "What would Pete do?" is paramount in my thoughts. I have always seen the song as a global "Mankind" reference, not pointing at gender, but I understand how, in a modern world that is becoming more and more aware of intolerance, some evolution may be needed. Again, to paraphrase Pete, "It's folk music." Folk music is an organically changing, inclusive medium. The words will come!


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Gender-neut lyrics for One Man's Hands?
From: Bonzo3legs
Date: 14 Jan 17 - 05:54 PM

At the end of the day it doesn't matter!


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Gender-neut lyrics for One Man's Hands?
From: Jeri
Date: 14 Jan 17 - 06:41 PM

First thing I thought of was the word "soul". I don't know that it would have religious associations or ghostly ones, instead of... I remember when I answer the phone for an in-flight emergency, the report would be that there were "## souls on board". It just meant people. You're a better judge of your audience, though.

Joe's suggestion seems most natural.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: ADD Version: One Man's Hands (Comfort/Seeger)
From: Joe Offer
Date: 15 Jan 17 - 02:18 AM

In the early editions of Rise Up Singing (first published 1988), these were the lyrics:

ONE MAN'S HANDS
(Alex Comfort, lyrics adapted by Pete Seeger)

One pair of hands can't tear a prison down,
Two pairs of hands can't tear a prison down,
But if two and two and fifty make a million,
We'll see that day come round
We'll see that day come round.

Just one voice can't shout to make them hear,
Just two voices can't shout to make them hear....

One alone can't ban the atom bomb,
And even two can't ban the atom bomb....

Just one alone can't break the color bar,
And even two can't break the color bar....

Just two feet can't walk around this land,
Just four feet can't walk around this land....

Just one heart can't turn this world to love,
Just two hearts can't turn this world to love....

One pair of eyes can't see the way ahead,
Two pairs of eyes can't see the way ahead....

©1962, Fall River Music


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Gender-neut lyrics for One Man's Hands?
From: Joe Offer
Date: 15 Jan 17 - 02:29 AM

Rise Up Singing had a significant revision for the 15th Anniversary edition in 2004. Here are the lyrics from that edition:

ONE MAN'S HANDS
(Alex Comfort, lyrics adapted by Pete Seeger and Alice & Staughton Lloyd)

Just my hands can't tear a prison down,
Just your hands can't tear a prison down,
But if two and two and fifty make a million,
We'll see that day come round
We'll see that day come round.

Just my voice can't shout to make them hear,
Just your voice can't shout to make them hear....

(additional verses - for as many good causes as time permits)

Just my strength can't ban the atom bomb
Just my strength can't break the color bar
Just my feet can't walk around this land
Just my hands can't build a bridge of peace
Just my heart can't turn this world to love
Just my eyes can't see the way [road] ahead

©1962, Fall River Music These lyrics have been adapted by Alice and Staughton Lynd and Pete Seeger, and are included here in this version at Mr. Seeger's request.


Pete Seeger often sent handwritten postcards to Rise Up Singing / Rise Again editors Peter Blood and Annie Patterson, giving advice on the books. It's a real kick to read through the postcards. -Joe-

Peter Blood also edited Pete Seeger's Where Have All the Flowers Gone? A Singalong Memoir. The 2009 edition includes the following additional verses:

Just my strength can't roll the union on.
Just my eyes can't see the future clear.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Gender-neut lyrics for One Man's Hands?
From: Long Firm Freddie
Date: 15 Jan 17 - 02:38 AM

This is how the song appears in Pete's book "Where Have All The Flowers Gone?" copyright 1993

ONE MAN'S HANDS
Original lyrics by Alex Comfort
Music (1961) by Pete Seeger
Lyrics adapted by Staughton Lynd

Just my hands can't tear a prison down,
Just your hands can't tear a prison down,
But if two and two and fifty make a million,
We'll see that day come round
We'll see that day come round.

Just my voice can't shout to make them hear,
Just your voices can't shout to make them hear....

Just my strength can't ban the atom bomb,
Just your strength can't ban the atom bomb....

Just my strength can't break the color bar,
Just your strength can't break the color bar....

Just my strength can't roll the union on
Just your strength can't roll the union on...

Just my feet can't walk across the land,
Just your feet can't walk across the land....

Just my eyes can't see the way ahead,
Just your eyes can't see the way ahead....

©1962, Fall River Music

LFF


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: ADD Version One Man's Hands (Comfort/Seeger)
From: Joe Offer
Date: 15 Jan 17 - 02:46 AM

I think this is as far back as we can go. It's from Sing Out! Magazine, Vol. 12, No. 2, April-May 1962. Anybody know of an earlier printing of this song?


ONE MAN'S HANDS
(Words by Alex Comfort, Music by Pete Seeger)

One man's hands can't break a prison down,
Two men's hands can't break a prison down,
But if two and two and fifty make a million,
We'll see that day come 'round,
We'll see that day come 'round.

One man's voice can't shout to make them hear,
Two men's voices can't shout to make them hear,
But if two and two and fifty make a million,
We'll see that day come 'round,
We'll see that day come 'round.

One man's strength can't ban the atom bomb…

One man's strength can't break the color bar…

One man's strength can't make the union roll…

One man's feet can't walk around the land…

One man's eyes can't see the way ahead…

(and so on, for as many good causes as time permits)

©1962 by Stormking Music, Inc.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Gender-neut lyrics for One Man's Hands?
From: Bonzo3legs
Date: 15 Jan 17 - 09:35 AM

I get it now, raving western communists, say no more!


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate
  Share Thread:
More...

Reply to Thread
Subject:  Help
From:
Preview   Automatic Linebreaks   Make a link ("blue clicky")


Mudcat time: 20 September 4:12 PM EDT

[ Home ]

All original material is copyright © 1998 by the Mudcat Café Music Foundation, Inc. All photos, music, images, etc. are copyright © by their rightful owners. Every effort is taken to attribute appropriate copyright to images, content, music, etc. We are not a copyright resource.