Song of the week – When All You’ve Got is a Hammer

When All You’ve Got is a Hammer (Gretchen Peters)



The first time I heard ‘When All You’ve Got is a Hammer’ was also the first time I’d heard of Gretchen Peters. I was listening to [the late, great] Terry Wogan’s show on Radio Two one Saturday, and I just thought “Wow – what a fantastic songwriter.” It happened to be at the time that I was reforming Hargreaves, so when I got home I found a recording of the song, tracked down the lyrics and chords and played it to Jo and Mark the following Saturday. Jo and I played it at an open mic and Hargreaves has been playing it ever since.

The song was written by Gretchen Peters about the damage that Post Traumatic Stress Disorder inflicts on military families – particularly infantry. It was inspired by America’s involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan, but I think it’s just as applicable to British forces (though I’d like to think we look after ex-service men and women a little better than the US does).

Gretchen Peters played it as a acoustic folk song. When we took it into the studio we felt our version should be a bit different, so we gave it a much harder edge. Kate and Marie do a great job of a two-part harmonised vocal, but I think the highlight is Iulian’s 3-part guitar break.


Chris Webb

20th Nov 2017


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