Hardened Hands

Hardened Hands
© 2012 Irene & Reed
Struggle, Strength, Reclamation
Lyrics by Leslie Benson, 2010

You push me
into a corner,
and tell me
I’m not brave.

You tell me I
have no backbone
when I’m dancing
on your grave.

You’re sadly
mistaken;
I’m not yours
to keep.

I’m not your     
faded doormat.
What you sow
you shall reap.

When the sky bleeds –
there you’ll find me,
molten iron in hand
to shape a better man.

When the sky bleeds –
there you’ll find me,
molten iron in hand
to shape a better man.

Out of the clay
and into the fire.
I sharpen the blade;
the flame’s getting higher.

These hands are country and
these hands are city;
they’re dirty and dainty.
They’re hardened, but pretty.

You build me up
to break me down,
And no one wants
you around.

You’re too afraid
to be a man,
but I am proud
of who I am!

When the sky bleeds –
there you’ll find me,
molten iron in hand
to shape a better man.

When the sky bleeds –
there you’ll find me,
molten iron in hand
to shape a better man.

Out of the clay
and into the fire.
I sharpen the blade;
the flame’s getting higher.

These hands are country and
these hands are city;
they’re dirty and dainty.

Hardened, but pretty!
Hardened, but pretty!

When the sky bleeds –
there you’ll find me,
molten iron in hand
to shape a better man.

When the sky bleeds –
there you’ll find me,
molten iron in hand
to shape a better man.

Out of the clay
and into the fire.
I sharpen the blade;
the flame’s getting higher.

These hands are country and
these hands are city;
they’re dirty and dainty.
They’re hardened, but pretty.

 

About the Song

In vocalist Leslie I. Benson’s dad’s genealogy studies, he discovered an amazing truth. Their ancestors had survived the black plague! In his research, he also found that they came from a knife-smithing and machinist background.

“I envisioned the struggles of my forefathers and pictured them working,” Benson says. “Their hands must have been so strong, yet, bruised, raw, and dirty. Those hands eventually bore my own life generations later. And, in looking at my own hands, I see some similarities. The way they look small and fragile in those of another, yet by themselves, they take on a worn, gripping fortitude from years of making my own way.”

Benson’s daydreams led to the draft of a song, “Hardened Hands,” as seen below. Though, after a few edits, the meaning of the song changed, and it instead focused on the strength a woman has to have when she’s on her own—just like a blacksmith molding his tools in the fire.

 

Hardened Hands (the first draft)
Lyrics by Leslie Benson, 2010

VERSE 1:
I come from hands
that manned bullet trains
mined leaden veins
ground stone to blade

These hands are country
these hands are city
they’re dirty and dainty
they’re hardened, but pretty
(hardened, but pretty)

CHORUS:
When the sky bleeds
There you’ll find me
molten iron in hand
to shape a better man

When the sky bleeds
There you’ll find me
molten iron in hand
to shape a better man
(I’ll shape a better man)

VERSE 2:
I come from hands
that steadied the sail
into the gale
where others have failed

These hands are country
these hands are city
they’re dirty and dainty
they’re hardened, but pretty
(hardened, but pretty)

CHORUS TO END

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