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Lyr/Chords Add: Song of My Hands

In Mudcat MIDIs:
Song Of My Hands [Bernie Asbel]


Mark Clark 27 Aug 00 - 02:20 AM
GUEST,Anne Price 17 Jan 01 - 01:17 PM
GUEST,guest Anne 17 Jan 01 - 11:31 PM
GUEST,guest Anne 17 Jan 01 - 11:35 PM
Mark Clark 18 Jan 01 - 12:31 AM
aesop 18 Jan 01 - 07:15 PM
MMario 18 Jan 01 - 08:41 PM
GUEST,Eluned 18 Jan 01 - 09:28 PM
Deckman 18 Jan 01 - 10:20 PM
Amergin 18 Jan 01 - 10:22 PM
Mark Clark 19 Jan 01 - 01:51 AM
Mark Clark 19 Jan 01 - 02:05 AM
MMario 19 Jan 01 - 09:10 AM
aesop 19 Jan 01 - 08:13 PM
MMario 20 Jan 01 - 08:08 AM
Mark Clark 31 Aug 02 - 06:48 PM
Mark Clark 15 Sep 02 - 05:40 PM
Mark Clark 16 Sep 02 - 01:43 AM
Mark Clark 02 Nov 03 - 10:06 PM
Jim Dixon 04 Nov 03 - 10:28 PM
Mark Clark 05 Nov 03 - 12:03 PM
Barbara 27 Feb 04 - 02:50 PM
Mark Clark 27 Feb 04 - 05:40 PM
Mark Clark 28 Feb 04 - 04:35 AM
Joe Offer 28 Feb 04 - 01:41 PM
Barbara 28 Feb 04 - 06:46 PM
Mark Clark 28 Feb 04 - 07:36 PM
Joe Offer 02 Mar 04 - 02:20 AM
Margret RoadKnight 02 Mar 04 - 09:25 AM
Margret RoadKnight 02 Mar 04 - 09:00 PM
Barbara 29 Jan 06 - 09:34 PM
Mark Clark 30 Jan 06 - 01:39 PM
Franz S. 30 Jan 06 - 03:26 PM
Barbara Shaw 06 Jun 06 - 04:31 PM
Mark Clark 06 Jun 06 - 10:29 PM
Barbara Shaw 07 Jun 06 - 07:14 AM
Mark Clark 17 Jun 06 - 01:12 AM
GUEST,Paul Asbell 13 Jul 06 - 07:07 PM
GUEST,Paul Asbell 13 Jul 06 - 07:15 PM
Joe Offer 13 Jul 06 - 08:19 PM
GUEST,Paul Stamler 24 Aug 06 - 02:34 AM
GUEST,ann-elise 29 Nov 06 - 01:48 AM
GUEST 29 Nov 06 - 01:56 AM
GUEST 29 Nov 06 - 01:57 AM
GUEST,Cindy 20 Aug 08 - 01:31 AM
Mark Clark 20 Aug 08 - 03:48 PM
Mark Clark 17 Dec 08 - 11:36 AM
Newport Boy 17 Dec 08 - 12:19 PM
Cool Beans 17 Dec 08 - 05:56 PM
GUEST,Joseph 18 Apr 11 - 01:15 PM
Bill D 09 Jan 12 - 10:41 AM
Barbara 12 Jan 12 - 10:34 PM
Mark Clark 13 Jan 12 - 10:21 AM
Barbara 21 Jan 12 - 11:25 PM
Deckman 21 Jan 12 - 11:38 PM
Mark Clark 22 Jan 12 - 01:19 AM
Bill D 22 Jan 12 - 12:51 PM
Bill D 22 Jan 12 - 01:31 PM
Bill D 22 Jan 12 - 03:53 PM
GUEST,grandma julie 05 Jul 15 - 09:52 PM
Mark Clark 06 Jul 15 - 03:29 PM
GUEST,Beverly Neal Watkins 15 May 16 - 09:09 AM
Cool Beans 09 Nov 16 - 10:19 AM
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Subject: Lyr/Chords Add: SONG OF MY HANDS^^
From: Mark Clark
Date: 27 Aug 00 - 02:20 AM

I learned this song a long time ago and have never found it in print anywhere. I believe it was sung by Paul Robeson though I've not found any recording of him singing it. As soon as I find time, I'll submit the melody as well.

      - Mark


SONG OF MY HANDS

lead in tag line -- "This is a song about working hands".

  C                    F
A lover sings of his own true love,
C G7
A sailor sings of the sea,
C F
What have I to be singing of,
C G7
But of my only property,
C G7 C
I'll sing you a song of my hands.

C F
Hear the call of the midnight train,
C G7
Echoin' down in the mine,
C F
The hiss of the steel and the grind of the crane,
C G7
The rumble of an assembly line,
C G7 C
That is the song of my hands.

Am Dm
I'll tell you why of my hands I sing,
Am E7 Am
My children eat what my hands can bring.

Am Dm
When towers of steel rose from barren plains,
Am E7
Did you see my hands workin' there,
Am Dm
Amid your factories, your trucks and cranes,
C F G7
We laid stone upon stone upon stone in the air,
C G7 C
And on top of the job were my hands.

(stay in major)
My two hands they're my take home pay,
They're how much milk at my door,
How many pounds may my children weigh,
How did you figure the price before,
What will you pay for my hands.

(shift to rel minor as before)
My hands are for sale, what will you give,
What will you give that my children might live.

What is the value of my two hands,
Appraise them as you've done before,
They built your factories, tilled your lands,
They've made you riches and they'll make more,
What will you pay for my hands.

Am Dm
Calculate carefully, ponder it well,
Am E7
And remember this when you do,
Am Dm
My two hands they are mine to sell,
C F G7
They built your machines they can stop them too,
C G7 C
That is the power of my hands.

C F
My two hands they are mighty hands,
C F C
They're strong, they're brave and they're free,
Am Dm
In all the world there's no man,
Am E7 Am
Can bind them in slavery.

Am Dm
My hands are for sale, what will you give,
Am E7 Am
What will you give that my children might live.
^^

Click to play


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Subject: Song of my hands
From: GUEST,Anne Price
Date: 17 Jan 01 - 01:17 PM

When I was a kid I heard a song from a music teacher about labor. This is all I remember of it. Does anyone know it and if or when it is recorded?

Give me a price for my hands
My two hands are mighty hands
They're how much milk at my door
How many pounds will my children weigh
Give me a price for my hands
But remember this before you do
That my two hands are mine to sell
They made your factories
They can stop them too


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Subject: Lyr Add: SONG OF MY HANDS
From: GUEST,guest Anne
Date: 17 Jan 01 - 11:31 PM

This is a song about working hands:

The lover sings of his own true love
the sailor sings of the sea
Tell me what have I to be singing of
But of my only property
I'll sing you a song of my hands

Hear the call of the midnight train
echoing down in the mines
The hiss of the steel and the grind of the chains
The rumble of the assembly line
That is the song of my hands

My two hands are mighty hands
They're hard, they're strong and free
In all this world there's no man
Can bind them in slavery


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Song of my hands
From: GUEST,guest Anne
Date: 17 Jan 01 - 11:35 PM

Anne P. your verse goes just before the last verse I gave you. By the way, I've met you at Pinewoods Anne S


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Song of my hands
From: Mark Clark
Date: 18 Jan 01 - 12:31 AM

I've submitted this song before. I don't know if it's in the DT yet but it's hanging around in a thread somewhere. It was in a thread where each Mudcatter was responsible for perserving one and only one song and we chose which one we would remember.

No, wait... I took the time to search through everything I'd posted and found The Song Of My Hands in a thread all by itself. I could have just searched for the title. Duh.

      - Mark


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Song of my hands
From: aesop
Date: 18 Jan 01 - 07:15 PM

Thank you. I just found it myself too. Now, where can I hear the music? Is it trad, or do we know who wrote it?


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Subject: RE: Lyr/Chords Add: Song Of My Hands
From: MMario
Date: 18 Jan 01 - 08:41 PM

refresh. tune?


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Subject: RE: Lyr/Chords Add: Song Of My Hands
From: GUEST,Eluned
Date: 18 Jan 01 - 09:28 PM

WOW! Those're SOME lyrics!


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Song of my hands
From: Deckman
Date: 18 Jan 01 - 10:20 PM

It sounds like you found your song. However, I wanted to mention this country western song from the fifties: "These hands"

These hands ain't the hand of a gentleman
These hands, are tired and old,
These hands raised a family
These hands raised a home,
Now these hands raise to praise the Lord.

I sang this at my Grandmothers funeral as a tribute to her hard working hands. CHEERS, Bob Nelson


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Song of my hands
From: Amergin
Date: 18 Jan 01 - 10:22 PM

Maybe I should do a song about what I do with my hands.....but then again maybe not....


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Subject: Tune Add: SONG OF MY HANDS
From: Mark Clark
Date: 19 Jan 01 - 01:51 AM

Okay, okay. I guess it's about time that I did some work around here, and I do mean work. I think this ABC file has all the melody and chords in the same order as the lyrics above. Someone please learn this song and come back and offer suggestions on the notation.

This song is not performed in a strictly regular fashion. There should be crescendos and decrescendos, birds eyes, ritards, dramatic pauses, etc. Just imagine Paul Robeson singing it and use that as a guide.

This is perhaps the most powerful song I've ever heard and well worth the trouble to learn.

      - Mark




T:Song Of My Hands
M:4/4
L:1/8
Q:100
C:Composer unknown to me
S:Source: Dwight Saunders, Des Moines, IA - 1961
K:C
G,|:"C"C3CE2DE"F"|F2C2F3F|"C"E2E2C2DE|"D7"D6z2|"C"C3CE2DE|
!"F"F3CF4|"C"G2GGG2FE|"G7"F2E2D3F|"C"E2DC"G7"D2CB,|"C"C6z2:|
!A,|"Am"A,3A,E2DE|"Dm"F3DF3F|"Am"E3EE2DC|"E7"(B,C)B,2"Am"A,|
!"Am"z7A,|A,3A,E2DE|"Dm"F3DF2FF|"Am"E3EE2DC|"E7"B,6zB,|
!"Am"A,3A,EE2E|"Dm"F3DF2FF|"C"G2GGG2FE|
!"F"F2EF"G7"D2FF|"C"E2DC"G7"D2CB,|"C"C6z2||
!"Am"A,3A,A,E3|EEz2"Dm"F2F2|D2F3zFF|"Am"E3EE2DC|"E7"B,6z2|
!"Am"A,3A,E2DE|"Dm"F3DF3F|"C"G2GGG2FE|"F"F3E"G7"D3z|"C"E2DC"G7"D2CB,|"C"
C6z2|
!"C"C3CE2DE"F"|F2C2F3G|"C"G3G"F"A2AA|"C"G6zA|
!"Am"A3EE3G|"Dm"G3DD3D|"Am"E2FE"E7"D2C2|B,2"Am"A,6||
!A,|"Am"A,4A,A,E4|"Dm"F2F2D2F2|"Am"E2EEE2D2|C2"E7"B,2C2B,2|"Am"A,6z2||

% Output from ABC2Win Version 2.1 i on 1/19/2001


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Song of my hands
From: Mark Clark
Date: 19 Jan 01 - 02:05 AM

I've added the melody to the original "Song Of My Hands" thread. Please let me know if you're having trouble matching the score with the lyrics I provided.

      - Mark


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Subject: RE: Lyr/Chords Add: Song Of My Hands
From: MMario
Date: 19 Jan 01 - 09:10 AM

Thanks mark!


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Subject: RE: Lyr/Chords Add: Song Of My Hands
From: aesop
Date: 19 Jan 01 - 08:13 PM

Thank you but I'm not familiar with the notation you're using. How do I translate? I'm not even good at reading regular music. It is a great song. Wish it were recorded somewhere.


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Subject: RE: Lyr/Chords Add: Song Of My Hands
From: MMario
Date: 20 Jan 01 - 08:08 AM

Click here for MudCat Guide to ABC Notation


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Subject: RE: Lyr/Chords Add: Song Of My Hands
From: Mark Clark
Date: 31 Aug 02 - 06:48 PM

Did anyone take the trouble to learn this one? How was it received?

If not, would it help to have an MP3 of it? I'll make one if anyone's interested.

      - Mark


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Subject: RE: Lyr/Chords Add: Song Of My Hands
From: Mark Clark
Date: 15 Sep 02 - 05:40 PM

I found the Howard Fast article below on the Steve Trussel Web Site. The site has a lot of info on Howard Fast including his description of the disasterous 1949 Paul Robeson concert. The site also has a lot of info on banjos and banjo playing and even an entire section devoted to Mel Lyman.

I copied the article from the Trussel site in case something should happen to that site down the line.


Sing Out!
Vol. 1, No. 10
March, 1951

Peoples Artists Makes Record

By Howard Fast

     Hootenanny Records' new release of "Song of My Hands" and "Spring Song," is a record anyone should be proud to have. But beyond that, it means a great deal to me because here for the first time we have The Song of My Hands on a record.

     I think it was two years ago that I first heard this song, and at that time Ernie Lieberman sang it. Without any question he will become associated with the song. And that immortality, which it is bound to gain as one of the great songs of the American working class, will be in part due to his efforts.

     This it is a great song and destined to be sung by millions, I have no doubt. There is no way in which one can define or analyze good quality. You hear a song and you know that it has it. That is how I felt about The Song of My Hands. It brought me back to that time so many years ago when I first heard Joe Hill -- and I think that here we have a song which will do something of what Joe Hill did.

     Of course it will take time; but that is only to be expected. I don't have too much faith in the kind of a song that bubbles up to the top of the thermometer a week after it has been published. The Song of My Hands is just not that kind of a song. It will find its way home more slowly but ever so much more surely, and I am quite certain that some day in the future this original recording by Peoples Artists will become a museum item of great value and great historic interest.

     Above all, the song must be sung and sung again. I wonder why I hear so few people's artists sing it. Perhaps now that the recording exists, that will be changed and more and more will sing this very fine and moving song.

     Just a word about Spring Song, which need not take second place to anything. Here too is an exceedingly important and moving song which can be of great value to us today. It is perhaps not the peace song -- there will be many, many peace songs before we get to that point. But it is nevertheless a song of good quality and great political importance, and I am glad that it was put on the other side of the record.


      - Mark


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Subject: RE: Lyr/Chords Add: Song Of My Hands
From: Mark Clark
Date: 16 Sep 02 - 01:43 AM

I've finally learned the name of the composer for “Song Of My Hands,” it was Bernie Asbel.

I don't find any discussion here about Bernie Asbel. Does anyone have information on Bernie?

Downeast Bob in his Mudcat profile says that he took guitar lessons from Bernie Asbel. I gather it while he was living in Chicago.

Did Asbel know Ernie Lieberman? Did he know Howard Fast?

      - Mark


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Subject: RE: Lyr/Chords Add: Song Of My Hands
From: Mark Clark
Date: 02 Nov 03 - 10:06 PM

refresh

I'd still like answers to my questions above if anyone has information.

      - Mark


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Subject: RE: Lyr/Chords Add: Song Of My Hands
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 04 Nov 03 - 10:28 PM

Bear Family has published a 10-CD boxed set called Songs for Political Action. Several web pages that describe that set say that SONG OF MY HANDS, written and performed by "Bernie Asbel" (sic), is included in it.

However, it appears that the correct spelling is Asbell.

Sing Out! The Folk Song Magazine published an obituary of Bernie Asbell in summer, 2001.

Bernie—or Bernard—Asbell was better known as a writer of nonfiction books and articles and as a writing teacher.

There is an obituary and photo of Bernie Asbell (in .pdf format) in the newsletter of the American Society of Jounalists and Authors.

Here are the books he wrote or edited as listed by the Library of Congress:

When F.D.R. Died. - 1961
New Improved American. - 1965
Careers in Urban Affairs: Six Young People Talk about Their Professions in the Inner City. - 1970
What Lawyers Really Do: Six Lawyers Talk about Their Life and Work. - 1970
F. D. R. Memoirs, As Written by Bernard Asbell. Introd. by Anna Roosevelt Halsted. - 1973
Tapping the Human Resource: A Strategy for Productivity / [By] Clair F. Vough with Bernard Asbell. - 1975
The Senate Nobody Knows / Bernard Asbell. - 1978
White Coat, White Cane: The Extraordinary Odyssey of a Blind Physician / David Hartman and Bernard Asbell. - 1978
Productivity, A Practical Program for Improving Efficiency / Clair F. Vough with Bernard Asbell. - 1979
Mother and Daughter: The Letters of Eleanor and Anna Roosevelt / Edited By Bernard Asbell. - 1982
Transit Point Moscow / Gerald Amster and Bernard Asbell. - 1985
Paterno: By the Book / Joe Paterno with Bernard Asbell. - 1989
What They Know about You / Bernard Asbell with Karen Wynn. – 1991
The Book of You / Bernard Asbell, Karen Wynn - 1992
Pill: A Biography of the Drug That Changed the World / Bernard Asbell. - 1995


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Subject: RE: Lyr/Chords Add: Song Of My Hands
From: Mark Clark
Date: 05 Nov 03 - 12:03 PM

Jim, Thanks very much for all your hard work. Now I'll have to start saving my money to buy the Bear Family boxed set. I also enjoyed reading the obituary and letters about Asbell in the ASJA Newsletter. Thanks.

The issue of the spelling of Asbell's name is an interesting one. Every reference I can find pertaining to Asbell's folk singing days uses the Asbel spelling. I also found an obituary of Alan Lomax by Irwin Silber in which Silber uses the single “l” spelling. I think Silber actually knew Asbell. Perhaps Asbell changed the spelling when he became a published and respected author. Perhaps it had something to do with the blacklist. It'll be interesting to find some details on the change.

I also discovered that Song Of My Hands was recorded by Barbara Dane on her 1973 album “I Hate The Capitalist System.” Now there's another album I've got to go find.

      - Mark


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Subject: RE: Lyr/Chords Add: Song Of My Hands
From: Barbara
Date: 27 Feb 04 - 02:50 PM

I was reading through this before Christmas, and I'd like to hear the MIDI, but all I get are error messages. I think the problem might be in the third line where there is (B,C). Mark, or someone, can you post a tune?
TIA
Blessings,
Barbara


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Subject: RE: Lyr/Chords Add: Song Of My Hands
From: Mark Clark
Date: 27 Feb 04 - 05:40 PM

I'll check it out and get a correction posted. I've got all the code so it's easiest for me to do. This is such a great song, people should be singing it.

      - Mark


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Subject: Tune Add: SONG OF MY HANDS
From: Mark Clark
Date: 28 Feb 04 - 04:35 AM

Here is a better ABC encoding of the whole song. I was going to suggest pasting the ABC into the ABC Convert-A-Matic Website to create a new MIDI file but their copy of abc2midi must not be current because it doesn't produce a valid MIDI file.

As an alternative, I've created the files myself and placed them out on the Web so they may be linked from this posting.Please let me know if these aren't satisfactory.

      - Mark



X:1
T:The Song Of My Hands
C:Bernie Asbel, ca. 1949
C:(transcription - Mark Clark, 2004)
S:Source: Dwight Saunders, Des Moines, IA - 1961
M:C
L:1/8
K:C
%%MIDI program 26 % Acoustic Guitar (steel)
%%MIDI chordprog 26 % Acoustic Guitar (steel)
Q:1/4=80
"C"C3C/C/E3D|C2"G7"D4D2|"C"C4-Cz2
w:This is a song a-bout work-in' hands._
Q:1/4=100
G,|:"C"C3CE2DE"F"|F2C2F3F|"C"EE2EC2DE|"G7"D6z
w:1.~A lov-er sings of his own true love, a sail -or sings of the sea,
w:2.~|Hear the call of the mid-night train,_ Ech-o-ing down in the mine,
w:4.~|My two hands they're my take home pay, They're how_ much milk at my door,
D|"C"C3CE2DE|"F"F3CF4|"C"G2GGG2(FE)|
w:|What have I to be sing-ing of but of my on-ly_
w:The hiss of~the steel and the grind of~the crane, The rum-ble of an as-
w:|How~man-y pounds may my child-ren weigh, How did you fig-ure the
"G7"F2E2D3F|"C"E2DC"G7"D2CB,|[1"C"C6z2:|2,4"C"C6zC|"Am"A,3A,E2DE|
w:pro-per-ty, I'll sing you a song of my hands.
w:sem-bly line,* That is the song of my ||hands. I'll tell you why of my
w:price be-fore, Oh what will you pay for my ||hands. My hands are~for sale, |
Q:1/4=90
"Dm"F3DF3F|"Am"E3EE2DC|"E7"(B,C)B,2"Am"A,3
w:hands I sing, My child-ren eat what my hands_ can bring.
w:What~will you give, |What will you give that child-ren might live.
Q:1/4=100
A,|"Am"A,3A,E2DE|"Dm"F3DF2FF|"Am"E3EE2DC|"E7"B,6z
w:3.~When towers of steel rose from bar-ren plains, Did you see my hands work-in' there,
w:5.~|What~is the val-ue of my two hands, Ap-praise them as you've done be-fore,
B,|"Am"A,3A,EE2E|"Dm"F3DF2FF|"C"G2GGG2FE|
w:a-mid your fact'-ries, your trucks and cranes we laid\
w:stone up-on stone up-on
w:They've built your fact'-ries they've tilled your lands,\
w:* They've made you * rich-es and
"F"F2EF"G7"D2FF|"C"E2DC"G7"D2CB,|[3"C"C6z2:|5"C"C6z2|
w:stone in the air and on top of the job were my hands.
w:they'll make * more, * Oh what will you pay for my ||hands.
Q:1/4=90
"Am"A,3A,A,E3|EEz2"Dm"F2>F2|D2F3zFF|"Am"E3EE2DC|
w:Calc-u-late care-ful-ly, pon-der it well and re-mem-ber this when you
"E7"B,6z2|"Am"A,3A,E2DE|"Dm"F3DF3F|"C"G2GGG2FE|
w:do, My two hands they are mine to sell,\
w:They built your mach-ines they can
"F"F3E"G7"D3z|"C"E2DC"G7"D2CB,|"C"C6z2|"C"C3CE2DE"F"|
w:stop them too, That is the power of my hands. My two hands they are
Q:1/4=76
F2C2F3G|"C"G3G"F"A2AA|"C"G6zA|"Am"A3EE3G|
w:might-y hands, They're strong, they're brave and they're free,\
w:In all the world there's
"Dm"(G3D)D3D|"Am"E2FE "E7"(DC) B,2|"Am"A,6zA,|"Am"A,3A,A,E3|
w:no_ man can bind them in sla_ve-ry. My hands are for sale,
"Dm"F3FDF4|"Am"E3E/E/E3D|C2"E7"B,2C2B,2|"Am"A,6z2|]
w:What will you give, What will you give that my child-ren might live.




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Subject: RE: Lyr/Chords Add: Song Of My Hands
From: Joe Offer
Date: 28 Feb 04 - 01:41 PM

The ABC is still a bit problematic for concertina.net. I posted a copy of Mark's MIDI at Mudcat MIDIs. The MIDI seems to be a good transcription of the way Robeson sings it. Maybe the midsong switch in tempo caused problems for concertina.net. Some converters don't do well with fancy stuff.
-Joe Offer-

Click to play


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Subject: RE: Lyr/Chords Add: Song Of My Hands
From: Barbara
Date: 28 Feb 04 - 06:46 PM

Thanks so much for making this available, Mark. I can see why you want it to survive, it's a good song.
One problem:
The transcription, but not the words posted above, has a lead in tag line -- "This is a song about working hands". It's pretty hard to make the words sing with the MIDI unless you start with that line.
So maybe Joe could insert that with the words above.
And, Mark, Joe, where has this been recorded?
Blessings,
Barbara


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Subject: RE: Lyr/Chords Add: Song Of My Hands
From: Mark Clark
Date: 28 Feb 04 - 07:36 PM

I've actually never heard any recording of the song. I learned it from Dwight Saunders in Des Moines, Iowa, in 1961. He used to sing it at hootenannies and I immediately loved the song. I thought Dwight told me Paul Robeson sang it but I've never been able to locate any recording of Robeson doing it. Now Joe, just two posts above, is saying my transcription tracks Robeson's performance so maybe Joe has a recording or heard Robeson sing it in concert. And, as I noted above, it was recorded by Barbara Dane on her 1973 album “I Hate The Capitalist System.” although I've yet to hear hear it.

I'm sorry I forgot the lead-in line when I originally posted the song. But, as you can see, I included it in the latest ABC. If you download the lead sheet (PDF) I linked above, you'll get sheet music with the lead-in line noted and all the parts properly sorted out.

      - Mark


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Subject: RE: Lyr/Chords Add: Song Of My Hands
From: Joe Offer
Date: 02 Mar 04 - 02:20 AM

I swear I've heard a recording of Robeson singing this song, but I looked through six Robeson CD's and did the usual Google searches, and couldn't find a Robeson recording. The only recording of the song I found was the one by Bernie Asbel on Bear Family's Songs for Political Action. I guess I have to admit that that I may have been mistaken (but that's so unlike me). Anyhow, when the song plays in my mind, I hear Robeson's voice - and it sounds much better than Asbel's tenor voice.
There's mention of a Barbara Dane recording above, but I don't know if it's still available. Anybody know of other recordings?
-Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: Lyr/Chords Add: Song Of My Hands
From: Margret RoadKnight
Date: 02 Mar 04 - 09:25 AM

Pretty sure Paul Robeson never recorded this song (well, it's not on my 23 LPs or 6 CDs, anyway).
If the Barbara Dane version is anything to go by (she's accompanied by piano only) it'd be a very challenging song to learn ..... this might explain why it isn't in many repertoires or memories.... musically it's probably closer to art song than folk song.


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Subject: RE: Lyr/Chords Add: Song Of My Hands
From: Margret RoadKnight
Date: 02 Mar 04 - 09:00 PM

Barbara Dane's album "I Hate the Capitalist System" (containing "Song of My Hands") was reissued on CD last year ... details & ordering from her website
barbaradane.net


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Subject: RE: Lyr/Chords Add: Song Of My Hands
From: Barbara
Date: 29 Jan 06 - 09:34 PM

Refresh


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Subject: RE: Lyr/Chords Add: Song Of My Hands
From: Mark Clark
Date: 30 Jan 06 - 01:39 PM

It's always nice to see old frends and old threads pop up again.

I actually wrote Paul Asbell (Bernie's son) about this song and to ask if my transcription is accurate. Paul was fascenated that someone still cared about the song and took the trouble to send me an MP3 file of his dad singing it. Needless to say, I was thrilled.

Paul said his dad spelled his name Asbel in those days and adopted the double L spelling later.

My final transcription is pretty close but there are some differences. I think my version is faithful to the way Dwight Saunders sang it so I don't know whether Dwight changed it slightly or just learned it that way. As I said earlier, it's likely that Dwight learned the song directly from Bernie. But Dwight was also friends with Woody and Marjorie and Huddie and Martha and he definately believed in the folk process and common ownership. He would sometimes put songs together differently on different occasions.

      - Mark


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Subject: RE: Lyr/Chords Add: Song Of My Hands
From: Franz S.
Date: 30 Jan 06 - 03:26 PM

Mark, I can't help you with the history questions, but Utah Phillips played Ernie Lieberman's recording of "Song of my Hands" on his Loafer's Glory show (Program #12-Musical Stew). I have a tape of the program. You could get a cd from Phillips for $15, which is cheaper than the Bear Family's boxed set. (which I'm also saving pennies for).


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Subject: RE: Lyr/Chords Add: Song of My Hands (Bernie Asbel)
From: Barbara Shaw
Date: 06 Jun 06 - 04:31 PM

I stumbled across this old thread and sadly discovered that my old friend Bernie Asbell died 5 years ago... I knew him in the late 70's in New Haven, CT. He would occasionally take out a guitar and sing a few songs at Mensa gatherings, and laughingly talked about his old poster from his early foray into folk music. It proclaimed BERNIE ASBELL, singer-songwriter in large letters, and then down at the bottom in small letters also mentioned Pete Seeger! He wrote many books, and often said that he wanted to someday write a book about Queen Isabella. I wonder if he ever did.

Bernie's son Jon is a friend and a fine musician (among other things) and is going to sit in with our band ShoreGrass this coming Saturday, playing Dobro.


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Subject: RE: Lyr/Chords Add: Song of My Hands (Bernie Asbel
From: Mark Clark
Date: 06 Jun 06 - 10:29 PM

Barbara, Thanks for the recollection. I've had some correspondence about The Song Of My Hands with two of Bernie's sons, Paul and Larry. Copied on some of that correspondence was Chris Intagliata who I assumed was another sibling. No mention was made of a son of Bernie's named Jon. I'm sure you know more about this than I.

Are you sure the poster read BERNIE ASBELL? Bernie was known as Bernie Asbel (one "l") when he performed as a folk singer and composed The Song Of My Hands. According to Larry, ‘…he added an “L” early in his writing career in the fifties, so it's optional how you spell it in regard to the song.’ And of course by the early fifties Pete Seeger had become quite famous as a member of the Weavers.

There is/was a Mudcatter known as Downeast Bob (Robert F. Baldwin) who claims, in his member profile, to have taken guitar lessons with Bernie Asbel. It's unclear whether this was in Chicago or New York. Downeast Bob has posted only once in the last six years and that was three years ago. I tried to contact him about Bernie but got no response.

      - Mark


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Subject: RE: Lyr/Chords Add: Song of My Hands (Bernie Asbel)
From: Barbara Shaw
Date: 07 Jun 06 - 07:14 AM

I have an old CT Mensa membership list from 1979 where Bernie's name is spelled "Asbell." I don't know how it was spelled on the poster. Jon is a jam-friend, so we have never talked much but have played music together occasionally over the years, and I asked him to fill in with us this weekend. I mentioned once that I knew his father years ago and then the subject never came up again.


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Subject: RE: Lyr/Chords Add: Song of My Hands (Bernie Asbel
From: Mark Clark
Date: 17 Jun 06 - 01:12 AM

Joe Offer commented in his post of 28 Feb 04 - 01:41 PM above that:
The ABC is still a bit problematic for concertina.net.

I just wanted interested folks to know that the ABC code Joe was talking about works fine using Jon's new ABC Converter at folkinfo.org.

Thanks, Jon.

      - Mark


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Subject: RE: Lyr/Chords Add: Song of My Hands (Bernie Asbel)
From: GUEST,Paul Asbell
Date: 13 Jul 06 - 07:07 PM

Hello, all!-

I've only now stumbled onto this site... had I done so earlier, I could perhaps have cleared up a few points.

Mark Clark mentioned earlier that he had been in touch with myself and my brother Larry.... and the relay of info is accurate- that is, my dad Bernie changed our family name to "Asbell" as a professional consideration after his magazine-writing career was getting off the ground in the early '50's. I would assume, therefore, that Mark's surmise is correct that the spelling appearing on the Seeger handbill, and on copyrights of songs such as "Song of my Hands", etc would be ASBEL, not ASBELL.

Re some of the other bits of family info mentioned earlier- Bernie's children were (in chronological order!) Paul (me), Larry, Jonathan, and sister Jodi. Barbara has spoken of her meeting up with Jon in hoots and pickin' parties in the New Haven, CT area.

I would be VERY surprised (although pleasantly so!) to hear that Paul Robeson recorded the song, though he was certainly a very respected figure in our household. I owe my name to him, in fact!

Oh, yes- Barbara's info on my dad's writing career is all correct. Concerning her speculation re the "Isabella" book- it's a poignant topic, actually, because it was the piece of work that he had been chipping away on for years, alternately enthusing on the topic, then putting it down in frustration, or to do work on another more pressing assignment. It's kinda the "unfinished symphony" of his career, in a way... but I imagine we'll all have one or two of those when it's time to go.

Anyway- as Mark indicated, it's fascinating to think of how this song's legacy (which, truth be told, my father was NOT entirely enamored with) truly extends into the future, and continues to touch people's lives. I know he'd get a big kick out of that... and probably pitch a query to a publisher friend or tow about an article on the topic!

Regards-

Paul Asbell


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Subject: RE: Lyr/Chords Add: Song of My Hands (Bernie Asbel)
From: GUEST,Paul Asbell
Date: 13 Jul 06 - 07:15 PM

Oh, yes- 2 more details.

The "Chris Intagliata" referred to is my brother Larry's wife.

And as for Downeast Bob's recollection of taking guitar lessons from my dad- If true, he and I may be the only 2 humans on the planet to make that claim! I managed to survive mine fairly intact... I hope Bob did as well!

Paul


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Subject: RE: Lyr/Chords Add: Song of My Hands (Bernie Asbel
From: Joe Offer
Date: 13 Jul 06 - 08:19 PM

Thanks a lot for stopping by, Paul. You add a special, human dimension to the song - but I still think I heard a recording of Robeson singing it....
-Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: Lyr/Chords Add: Song of My Hands (Bernie Asbel)
From: GUEST,Paul Stamler
Date: 24 Aug 06 - 02:34 AM

Just for reference, Bernie Asbel's recording of "Song of My Hands" was issued on Bell LL-101-A. The flip side was a duet by Bernie Asbel and Pete Seeger on Baldwin Hawes's song "Mad as I Can Be". I don't have a date for the recording, but I'm sure there's one in the Bear Family set's annotations. Note that this is the postwar Bell label, no relation to the 1920s one; this Bell label also issued a lot of klezmer recordings.

Peace,
Paul


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Subject: RE: Lyr/Chords Add: Song Of My Hands
From: GUEST,ann-elise
Date: 29 Nov 06 - 01:48 AM

Bernie was a wonderful man and a dearly loved friend. He played with Pete Seeger, I think opened for him on occasion. He was highly intelligent, perpetually curious, gentle, thoughtful, and beloved by most who knew him. He was one of the few faculty at Penn State who did not hold a doctoral degree. In fact, I'm not sure he held an advanced degree at all, only stood on the merits of his work, which were considerable. If memory serves me, he was an early contributer to the Rolling Stone magazine. Thank you for keeping his music alive. He would be so pleased.


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Subject: RE: Lyr/Chords Add: Song Of My Hands
From: GUEST
Date: 29 Nov 06 - 01:56 AM

BTW, would love to talk to you sometime. Miss your dad still. He was one of my fav UU's.


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Subject: RE: Lyr/Chords Add: Song Of My Hands
From: GUEST
Date: 29 Nov 06 - 01:57 AM

above message was for Paul, oops


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Song of my hands
From: GUEST,Cindy
Date: 20 Aug 08 - 01:31 AM

I've been looking for the lyrics of this for so many years. Thank goodness for the internet!
I first learned this song in Mohegan Colony Day Camp where I grew up during the summers. It was taught by Tom Mannoff - who taught all the music for campers each summer.We learned songs that meant something - I thought that was the purpose of songs.I was just a little kid but I remembered most of the lyrics - just not in order. Thanks for all the help.


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Subject: RE: Lyr/Chords Add: Song of My Hands
From: Mark Clark
Date: 20 Aug 08 - 03:48 PM

Glad to see this thread pop up again every few years. It's a great song.

I'm sorry to report that my old friend Dwight Saunders, from whom I learned this song has died. It's getting harder to find people who were there in the political-musical milieu of 1940s New York City.

      - Mark


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Subject: RE: Lyr/Chords Add: Song of My Hands
From: Mark Clark
Date: 17 Dec 08 - 11:36 AM

Cool Beans posted in another thread that Robert Baldwin (AKA Downeast Bob) passed away last year. That reminded me of this old thread and, reading it over, discovered that a couple of links from above have gone bad. I've uploaded the files to a new service so here are the new links.

      - Mark


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Subject: RE: Lyr/Chords Add: Song of My Hands
From: Newport Boy
Date: 17 Dec 08 - 12:19 PM

I saw this thread for the first time today. Quickly reading through, I don't think anyone has mentioned that it was included in the 1962 'Sing Out' reprints. I've sung it, on and off, since then.

The words and chords are very close to Mark's original posting, with the order of verses slightly different. The credit & intro says:

Words and Music by Bernie Asbel
Copyright 1946, Bernie Asbel

In response to many requests, we re-print here one of the most-loved worker's songs ever published by People's Songs. "Song of my Hands", as recorded by Ernie Lieberman, is available on the Hootenanny Record label.


And, Joe - I'm sure if Robeson had recorded it I would have had a note somewhere, and I don't. It's definitely something he should have recorded, though.

Phil


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Subject: RE: Lyr/Chords Add: Song of My Hands
From: Cool Beans
Date: 17 Dec 08 - 05:56 PM

Like guest Cindy, I attended Mohegan Colony Day Camp and learned songs from Tom Manoff, but never heard "Song of My Hands." Of course, I was there only one summer. Tom Manoff, with whom I had a bit of correspondence a few years ago, grew up in Tarrytown NY and claims to have taught David Bromberg his first chord. Sorry about the thread creep, but it's all connected, no?


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Subject: RE: Lyr/Chords Add: Song of My Hands
From: GUEST,Joseph
Date: 18 Apr 11 - 01:15 PM

I've been frustrated looking for the lyrics to this song for a while.
I remember Josh White singing it in the early '50s.
I had remembered about half of it and had not sung it for close to 40 years and tried all my friends and relati9ves who might know the words.
Then I decided to go to the source: Pete!

He write back in three days! A form letter with a personal note added telling me just where to find it -- with Bernie Asbell's name attached.

Just a footnote . . it's still all here, I'm saying, pointing to my head.


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Subject: RE: Lyr/Chords Add: Song of My Hands
From: Bill D
Date: 09 Jan 12 - 10:41 AM

Well... I missed this thread somehow, but a Google search brought it up.

I was searching because Deckman (Bob Nelson), in his project to recover and digitize many old tapes he has, found some recordings of a fine singer/guitarist, Larry Kiefer who was in Wichita Kansas in the early 60s. I heard him live many times, and I remembered him singing a song about 'working hands', but couldn't remember any lyrics.
Deckman & I have traded Larry Kiefer information this last year, and I just received a CD of Larry with "Working Hands" on it. (I am typing this about 5 minutes after listening!)

   I will ask Deckman's permission, and if he agrees, I will make an MP3 of the song and post it where folks can finally hear a fine version!


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Subject: RE: Lyr/Chords Add: Song of My Hands
From: Barbara
Date: 12 Jan 12 - 10:34 PM

Bill, I'm pretty sure I have the lead sheet from when the link worked. Maybe a midi too, though I'm sure that neither is as good as a real singer like Deckman doing it.
Blessings,
Barbara


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Subject: RE: Lyr/Chords Add: Song of My Hands
From: Mark Clark
Date: 13 Jan 12 - 10:21 AM

Sorry for the broken link. I'll set up a new one that should be permanent. Also I've been given a set of recordings made by the late Dwight Saunders from whom I learned the song. I think Dwight's version is in that set. I'll make that recording available too.

      - Mark


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Subject: RE: Lyr/Chords Add: Song of My Hands
From: Barbara
Date: 21 Jan 12 - 11:25 PM

Lovely, Mark. Thank you.
Blessings,
Barbara


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Subject: RE: Lyr/Chords Add: Song of My Hands
From: Deckman
Date: 21 Jan 12 - 11:38 PM

Bill ... can you manage to post Larry Keifer's audio to this page? bob (deckman)nelson


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Subject: RE: Lyr/Chords Add: Song of My Hands
From: Mark Clark
Date: 22 Jan 12 - 01:19 AM

Here are the missing files for Song of My Hands. I've put them in Dropbox so anyone can get them and share them.

I haven't modified them in any way. They still have date stamps from 2004 and should match the last ABC (above) exactly. Maybe tomorrow I'll hunt up Dwight Saunders' recording and get that posted too.

      - Mark


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Subject: RE: Lyr/Chords Add: Song of My Hands
From: Bill D
Date: 22 Jan 12 - 12:51 PM

I just made an MP3 of this--- I am signing up for a site where I can post the song file, and it 'should' be up soon.


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Subject: RE: Lyr/Chords Add: Song of My Hands
From: Bill D
Date: 22 Jan 12 - 01:31 PM

I posted also in the Larry Kiefer thread. (Note.. we seem to use different spellings of his name. If we get a consensus, I will try to get them changed to a consistent one, with alternates listed to facilitate future searches.

Working Hands (as named on file I received..."Song of My Hands" may be the official one.)

This link worked for me...


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Subject: RE: Lyr/Chords Add: Song of My Hands
From: Bill D
Date: 22 Jan 12 - 03:53 PM

(Note: Larry's arrangement of the song (and exact words) is a bit different than Mark Clark's opening post, but once you have it playing, it is not difficult to follow along and see how it works.)


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Subject: RE: Lyr/Chords Add: Song of My Hands
From: GUEST,grandma julie
Date: 05 Jul 15 - 09:52 PM

when I was in high school in the nineteen fifties, one of my closest friends used to sing this song. I know the melody but not the chords- and I always wanted to find out where it came from. This is the first time I have heard of anyone else knowing it.


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Subject: RE: Lyr/Chords Add: Song of My Hands
From: Mark Clark
Date: 06 Jul 15 - 03:29 PM

Nice to see this pop up again. I see the last links to the score and MIDI files still work.

 : : : : : :- Mark


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Subject: RE: Lyr/Chords Add: Song of My Hands
From: GUEST,Beverly Neal Watkins
Date: 15 May 16 - 09:09 AM

I first heard this song on a 78 rpm recording that my father had. He was active in the labor unions in the 40's and through the 50's. I listened to it frequently as a child and the tune and some of the lyrics return to me at times so I am just thrilled to have come upon this discussion. I have saved the lead sheet with music. Thanks toall of you .


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Subject: RE: Lyr/Chords Add: Song of My Hands
From: Cool Beans
Date: 09 Nov 16 - 10:19 AM

Don't know why I didn't notice it earlier, but my friend the late Downeast Bob, who grew up in many places, would have taken lessons from Mr. Asbell in Chicago.


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