Lyric Review 1: GRANDMA’s HANDS by B. Withers

While visiting family, I heard this song and it moved me. Withers had me hooked by how he sang the song and the song’s lyrics.

This post discusses the elements present in the timeless song GRANDMA’s HANDS by Bill Withers.



Grandma’s hands
Clapped in church on Sunday morning
Grandma’s hands
Played a tambourine so well
Grandma’s hands
Used to issue out a warning
She’d say, Billy don’t you run so fast
Might fall on a piece of glass
Might be snakes there in that grass
Grandma’s hands

Grandma’s hands
Soothed a local unwed mother
Grandma’s hands
Used to ache sometimes and swell
Grandma’s hands
Used to lift her face and tell her
She’d say, Baby, grandma understands
That you really love that man
Put yourself in Jesus’ hands
Grandma’s hands

Grandma’s hands
Used to hand me piece of candy
Grandma’s hands
Picked me up each time I fell
Grandma’s hands
Boy, they really came in handy
She’d say, Matty don’ you whip that boy
What you want to spank him for?
He didn’ drop no apple core
But I don’t have grandma anymore

If I get to heaven I’ll look for
Grandma’s hands


Repetition: This is crafted masterfully. The repetition of “grandma’s hands” gives the listener a focus for this song. Grandma’s hands repeated took my mind back to my grandmother who is 93 years old at time I am writing this. Each time he repeats this phrase I think of my grandmother’s aged and wrinkled hands which have sacrificed so much for the good of the family. Although images of grandma’s hands come to mind while Withers sings, Withers’ grandma’s hands were busy. Her hands clapped, played, used, and picked up. Her hand worked; there isn’t a single description of them just ways in which they worked.

Use of Suggestion: At the end of the song the song writer ably suggests the passing of his grandma. He never directly states that his grandma died but says:

If I get to heaven I’ll look for

Grandma’s hands

Withers is certain his grandma has gone to heaven. Out of all the people he’d see in heaven, out of all the things he could see in heaven the one thing he wants to see is his grandma’s hands.

I’d like to focus on doing some one thing so well that when I’m gone others remember me for it. That one thing doesn’t need to make me famous nor does it need to draw a crowd it just needs to touch people’s hearts.


Grandma’s hands represents comfort for Withers and extends beyond the family context into the community. She “soothed a local unwed mother” and she “picked” Withers up when he was down. Comfort came from this remarkable woman’s hands. The hands have power to heal or destroy. Grandma chose to use her hands to improve people’s lives. People grew into better people or their living situations tidied up because of one person’s hands.

We all can use our hands for good and in so doing we can make long lasting impact in other’s lives. Our work may give a person to help shape their own identity, help pay their rent, or just put a smile on someone’s face.

Replace grandma’s with your name and hands with some other object of your choice. Keep you he message the same think of actions you can take to help make someone’s life better.

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What would your song sound like? Write a few lines in the comments.

Use your ________ (fill in the blank) for other’s good,

Twitter: @growthucator

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