Four-time Juno Award winning rock band The Sheepdogs are the latest to perform a song for the Hall of Fame’s Covered Classics series. The group take on Hand Me Down World, a hit song for The Guess Who in 1970, written by Kurt Winter. The song is the latest to be inducted into the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame.
Hand Me Down World was the follow-up song to The Guess Who’s massive No. 1 success, American Woman. Produced by Jack Richardson, it appeared on The Guess Who’s 1970 album “Share The Land”, their first after headliner Randy Bachman’s departure. The band offered Bachman’s place to another Winnipegger, Kurt Winter, who conveniently brought with him Hand Me Down World.
Hand Me Down World was a protest song in an age when there was much to protest about: damage to the environment, the Viet Nam war, and restrictive social mores. Winter’s lyrics, still relevant decades later, embody the perennial frustrations of socially-conscious youth objecting to the complacency of the middle-aged who have turned a blind eye to society’s problems.
The song had the distinction of being one of the few rock protest songs ever played at the American White House. The Guess Who, at the time the world’s top rock band, performed it at a gala for a distinguished audience including US President Richard Nixon and Prince Charles on July 17, 1970.
Both the album and single went gold. Hand Me Down World spent two months on Billboard’s singles chart, peaking at No. 17 in August 1970, while “Share the Land” reached No. 14 and charted for a full 25 weeks. The Guess Who won back-to-back Juno awards for Top Vocal Instrumental Group in 1970 and 1971, and the single earned a 1971 BMI Canada Certificate of Honour. The song gained international exposure when the band performed it on the Johnny Cash television show, for which they draped a full-sized red-and-white maple leaf flag over Cummings’ keyboard.
Kurt Winter (1946‒1997), from Winnipeg, Manitoba, played with various bands through the 1960s before joining The Guess Who as lead guitarist from 1970 to 1974. He later starred with the Jim Kale version of the band from 1977 to 1979. Winter wrote or co-wrote (with Cummings and others) several songs that became SOCAN Classics: Rain Dance; Runnin’ Back to Saskatoon; Follow Your Daughter Home; and Clap for the Wolfman.
“It was truly a pleasure to cover this timeless classic from Canada’s greatest ever rock band, the Guess Who” said Ewan Currie of The Sheepdogs. “Hand Me Down World still rings every bit as true in 2017 as it did when Burton was belting it out back in 1970.”
A collaboration between the CSHF and CBC Music/ICI Musique, Covered Classics invites Canadian artists to perform their version of a classic song as part of its induction into the Hall of Fame. For more 2016 Covered Classics sessions, click here.
In the video below, watch The Sheepdogs cover Hand Me Down World.