These Hands

from by Martha Groves Perry

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about

This is possibly my favorite song on the CD, but that’s like trying to identify your favorite child. I decided to make this the title track because is addresses pretty directly what I’m doing when I’m doing music, which is why the CD exists at all …

It started in an unusual and slightly morbid way: when I witnessed the death of my neighbor’s elderly aunt, who had raised my neighbor. Weirdly, my focus in that moment was on the old woman’s hand. I was quietly thinking of all of the things that her hand had done while mothering – preparing food, cleaning, wiping noses and butts, etc. When I went home, I remembered that when my children were little, I sometimes felt like nothing but a pair of hands because they (my hands … and my children) ​​​​​​literally did not stop all day. With my children nearly grown by that time, my hands were again more and more at my disposal, and music was claiming that space. The song is a funky combination of searching, spooky, affirming, and just plain bad-assery. It’s what I was thinking about when the CD cover photo was taken, and it’s what I aspire to be and do.

I just love the grinding, Tom Waits vibe, and I wonder sometimes if I should spend more time writing music like this. It also allowed me to follow Kenny’s advice to discover other flavors in my voice that I definitely want to explore further. After I recorded the vocals, I’m not sure if I was more surprised by Kenny’s suggestion that I sing some doubling takes through a bullhorn, or the fact that Steven Glaze, my sound engineer at ToneFreq Studio in San Jose, just happened to have one on hand. We got some great studio photos that day … in addition to some awesomely funky vocal doubling tracks.

I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

lyrics

What am I to do with these hands?
It seems that now you have your own plans
I walked you to the water, and you dove in and swam
What am I to do with these hands?

They hang here like two discarded tools
Silent servants follow the rules
Now I reach inside myself and risk ridicule
Truth laid bare can make me a fool

Something’s clawing, trying to make its way out of me
Scratching, gnawing, yearning for integrity

Heal the split in what you see
And what lies in the secret me
Integrate my identity
Pass through a ring of fire to be free

What am I to do with these hands?
I’m now recalling where I began
I jump into the water, and I don’t give a damn
I know what I will do with these hands

Something’s clawing, trying to make its way out of me
Scratching, gnawing, yearning for integrity

What am I to do with these hands?
What am I to do with these hands?
This is what I’ll do with these hands

Words & Music © 2016 Martha Groves Perry

credits

from These Hands, released March 1, 2020
In addition to songwriting, lead vocals, and writing the harmony vocals, I performed backing vocals on this song. Kenny Schick, my producer, also sang backing vocals and played or programmed all of the instruments. Kenny recorded his parts at Basement3Productions in Nashville, TN, and I recorded my vocal parts in May 2018 with Steven Glaze at ToneFreq Studio in San Jose, California.

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Martha Groves Perry San Francisco, California

Martha Groves Perry is a singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist. Her music is straightforward, compelling, and sometimes edgy with strong blues and southern rock influences. Her lyrics reflect the fearless truth-telling and unbothered amusement of a seasoned, female point of view. Martha’s music has been described is a cross between Tom Waits, early Gwen Stefani, and the Indigo Girls. ... more

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