The Guess Who, the legendary Canadian rock band, perform “Hand Me Down World,”which was released as a single in Canada in June 1970 and a month later in the United States. It is the third track on their seventh studio album, Share the Land, released on October 5, 1970. Hand me downs are second-hand goods, suggesting something old and previously worn, often in sufficiently good condition, but sometimes not. It suggests something not in vogue, not au courant.
The song was written by guitarist Kurt Winter, one of the two lead guitarists (the other being Greg Leskiw) who replaced Randy Bachman earlier in 1970. Bachman had left the band due to creative differences, chiefly a result of his conversion to Mormonism. Burton Cummings is the lead singer here. Rounding out the group is Jim Kale (bassist) and Gary Peterson (drummer). They continued as the Guess Who, with many changes in its members, until they officially disbanded in October 1975.
The generation gap persists today, largely explaining the song’s cri de cœur. Every new generation gets a hand-me down world, fashioned by previous generations, seeing its deficiencies as glaring and thus seeing and feeling a need to protest in some form. Behind such thinking is a fear of the status quo, thus motivating a desire to repair the rot, to turn bad into good, to make the world better, more just. Such is the prerogative and energy of youth—fueled by idealism and righteous indignation—and no matter how previous generations tend to view such actions and behaviours, it needs to run its course.
Without the possibility of positive change, without the hope of improvement, humanity finds itself lost and locked in hopeless despair and cynicism. That being said, is not youthful idealism better than its counterpart? To fight the good fight? But not with anger and divisive language; this only makes things worse. The goal is to bring people together for a common good.