In honor of Juneteenth (June 19th, a day that commemorates the end of slavery in the United States), I thought I’d share one of my very favorite American folk songs. “Take This Hammer” is a song to sing when you’re feeling fed up, down and out, or ready to break free from something that’s weighing you down. Lead Belly’s recording is probably the version that’s imitated the most but, like many folk songs, “Take This Hammer” has been covered by hundreds of artists, so it’s always interesting to listen to multiple versions and hear how differently artists can interpret a song.
In the audio clip above, I’m playing “Take This Hammer” on a tenor ukulele with a low-G string in the key of A with A, A7, D, and E7 chords, paired with a strum you can learn from a YouTube video by TenThumbs Productions. How will you play it?
I’m Melissa Stevenson, an ukulele teacher, and author of Let’s Play! The Ukulele Handbook for Beginners. On the Musical Mama blog, I post practical and inspiring tips for beginning ukulele players, free music-themed downloads, and video tutorials to make learning to play the ukulele as straightforward and fun as possible. Let’s play!
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