Hands never appeared on an officially released album. However, Pat Humphries recorded a version for the tribute album, What’s That I Hear?: The Songs of Phil Ochs as well as on her solo album Hands.
Jim Glover recorded a version that appeared in Fast Folk.
Joe Jencks recorded a version that appears on Phil Ochs Song Night at Kerrville Folk Festival 2012.
Covers of Hands may be found on YouTube.
Hands appears in the Rise Again songbook.
Chords may be found here
Lyrics as transcribed by Jim Glover.
I’ve seen the hands of laborers that lifted all the loads
And the granite stuck to their fingers as they dug the canals and the roads
Now they’re cleared and the bridges span
The river paused for a power dam
And now the hand of the laborer is reaching out to you
Oh the hands hands hands that worked to build land, land, your land
The labor of the woman and the man workin’ with their hands
Hands, hands, hands a-workin’ with their hands
I’ve seen the hands of the miners digging out the coal.
The black dust stuck to their fingers as they lived their life in a hole.
The rocks they’re still under the ground, and now their mine is a-closin’
And now the hand of the miner is reaching out to you. (chorus)
Well I’ve seen the hands of the lumberjacks; forests swaying in the breeze.
And the splinters stuck to their fingers as lumber was torn from the trees.
And the wood that came from the timber tall built your buildings from
Wall to wall.
And now the hand of the lumberjack is reaching out to you.
And I’ve seen the hands of the farmers plowin’ across the fields.
And the topsoil stuck to their fingers as the land was split by the steel.
Just growing all they could grow, to fill your tables row after row.
And now the hand of the farmer is reaching out to you.
Oh the hands, hands, hands were working on the land, your land.
The labor of the woman and the man working with their hands.
Hands, hands, working with their hands.
The following appears in SingOut!
“Hands” comes to these pages through Sonny Ochs, Phil’s sister. A friend of hers, Peter Benson, gave her a tape of Phil’s concert at the Gaslight in New York City on June 3, 1964. It,along with about 13 other songs rediscovered in a similar fashion, was never recorded by Phil. Jim Glover, of Middlebury, Ct, transcribed this song and is working on the remaining songs. Upon transcribing this song Jim recalled being there that evening. Jim writes: “The only thing that bothered me about the song, when I first heard it at the Gaslight and later when I listened to the tape, was that it never mentined or gave credit to women while it told the story of the people who built America. So, I changed the lyrics accordingly…it’s been getting wonderful reactions from live audences.”
I recenty wrote a new verse “I’ve seen the hands of the Mother hanging out the clothes and the White flour stuck to her finngers a-rolling out the dough. Raising the kids and sewing the torn days of our lives since yoou were born… and now the hand of the mother is reaching out to you”.