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10.27-LITTLE HANDS (Alexander "Skip" Spence)

Skip Spence

LISTEN

Little hands clapping.
Children are laughing.
Little hands clapping all over the world.

Piper is piping.
Drummers are drumming
Little hands clapping all over the world.

Little hands clapping.
Children are sharing.
Little loves loving, all little boys and girls.

Children are singing
The truths that they're bringing.
Freedom is ringing all 'round the world.

     Come let us meet them.
     Yes, we will greet them
.

Little hands clapping.
Children are sharing.
Piper is calling all over the world.

Out in the street
The sick that you meet--
How many friends do you call your own?

     [Chorus]

Children are clapping.
Children are sharing.
Children are shattering records and rules.

Little hands caring.
Little hands sharing
The old ones and the gold ones and the family jewels.

     [Chorus]

Little hands clapping.
Children are happy.
Little hands loving all 'round the world.

Little hands clasping
Truth they are grasping.
A world with no pain for one and all.

And they are learning.
Their souls, they are yearning--
A nice place to play and no place to fall.

     [Chorus]


Little Hands begins the track listing for the album Oar, and is considered by this listener and most critics as the most accessible song on the album. If it were not for the unusual singing style (of which Dashiell Asher wrote in That Song Blog was “skydiving from ethereal highs to creaking lows, [Spence’s] voice [breaking] out across the track like streaks of light, but always [managing] to remain intimate”), the song might have qualified as a radio-worthy single. Its call to return to the innocence of children, of making the earth a safe place for the next generation, was certainly a popular theme during the psychedelic period and the “Age of Aquarius”. Even though Little Hands is the song on Oar that most sounds like the Moby Grape, the fragile tone of Spence’s voice, damaged by an unsafe world, made its success on the Top 40 improbable, unless--as Louis Black speculated in the Austin Chronicle (December 17, 1999)—“there were a pop station on Desolation Row.”

The rhythm of Little Hands’ A section reminds me of the Buffalo Springfield’s For What It’s Worth crossed with Donovan’s Season of the Witch. As Dashiell Asher wrote in That Song Blog, the music in Little Hands “is stuck somewhere between a war march and sunshine” and it is somewhat unsettling because of the vacillation of mood. However, the song would probably be too sweet without the darkness, without the singer being among the sick that you meet / out in the street. The song expresses hope for a better world, a hope that has been born out of and reflected by personal suffering. It expresses the hope of starting all over again.

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