This is part of the lyrics of the song "Save the Hammer for the Man," by Tom Morello (& Ben Harper):

I hurt the gentlest souls, I robbed my wife and son
I turned my back on troubles, troubles I'd begun
I cut a swath of pain and loss in the hallways of my home
In the quiet of my room I know the things I've done
Save the hammer for the man, save the hammer for the man
It's the calling of the wretched
It's the rising of the damned
Save the hammer for the man

Tom Morello & Ben Harper

What does the phrase "Save the hammer for the man" mean in this context?

  • Thank you for introducing me to a hauntingly beautiful new song and songwriter. – anongoodnurse Jan 23 '14 at 10:28
  • I'm glad you liked the song and the songwriter! :) – Francesca Jan 23 '14 at 10:41

"Put the hammer down" is to react with force

"The Man" is also slang for the establishment/police

If you Google What does save the hammer for the man mean

you would find

Tom Morello on solo album, politics and racism

The two musicians have an easy friendship. For years, they've supported each other's charitable endeavors and activist causes -- which inadvertently led to their first duet, the gospel-tinged "Save the Hammer for the Man." It's a track on "World Wide Rebel Songs," Morello's fourth record under the guise of his Nightwatchman alter ego. "We were playing a show in Chicago for some union issue, and some of the other musicians on the bill were grousing about not getting paid," Morello says. "One of the other musicians canceled the show because he had to return to his vineyard. We were on the phone kind of moaning about this, and Ben said, 'Tom, you let me know if you want me to put the hammer down.' And I said, 'Ben, save the hammer for the man.' And we're like, 'Hold on. One day, that must be a song!' "

  • ...ops, I just realized that I Googled a wrong prashe, that's why I did not find anything .... thank you! – Francesca Jan 23 '14 at 11:31


I think that there are several things going on here. First, this verse is an expression of regret over misplaced anger. It also establishes the reason for the exile described in the middle of the song. Finally, it lends depth to the finish -- there's a sense of redemption to lyrics that might other come across as didactic. I hope this helps.


It meas to save violence for the government. Or don't bitch and moan for not being paid for doing what you love.

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