Hands Held High

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Hands Held High
by Linkin Park
from the album Minutes To Midnight
Working title:Song Q
Recorded:2006 - 2007
Format:Digital, Cassete, CD, Vinyl, DVD
Length:03:53
Time signature:4/4
Tempo:104
Key:A Major
References:Jean-Paul Sartre - The Devil And The Good Lord
Live debut:July 29, 2007
Last performed:March 7, 2008 (Full)
July 3, 2017 (A Cappella)
Writer:Linkin Park
Producer:Mike Shinoda, Rick Rubin
Label:Warner Bros.
Minutes To Midnight tracklist
  1. Wake
  2. Given Up
  3. Leave Out All The Rest
  4. Bleed It Out
  5. Shadow Of The Day
  6. What I've Done
  7. Hands Held High
  8. No More Sorrow
  9. Valentine's Day
  10. In Between
  11. In Pieces
  12. The Little Things Give You Away

"Hands Held High" is the seventh track off of Linkin Park's third studio album, Minutes To Midnight.

Background

"Hands Held High" was the result of producer Rick Rubin suggesting the band combine contrasting elements in a song, as confirmed by the limited edition booklet for Minutes To Midnight. "Early in the writing process, Rick suggested the band experiment by contrasting together unexpected elements. For example, if a musical idea sounded like it needed rapping, he recommended Mike or Chester try singing over it. Likewise, because the instrumental idea known as “Song Q” sounded primed for melodic singing, Rick suggested the opposite be done. The song’s pipe organ and marching snare proved the perfect musical bed for two of the most inspired verses Mike had ever delivered. Ultimately titled “Hands Held High,” the song was completed by layering all six of the band member's voices together to create the sound of the men’s choir heard in the refrain."

Rob Bourdon cited "Hands Held High" as an example of some of the more thought-provoking lyrics on Minutes To Midnight, stating "I think a lot of the lyrics on Minutes to Midnight are really thought provoking, and when you listen to a song like "Hands Held High," you can't help but start thinking. It's good to encourage people to think for themselves and look at what's going on around them."[1]

Mike Shinoda commented on its meaning during his interview with Spotify, saying "We did a song on Minutes to Midnight called Hands Held High and that was at a time when, you know, Bush was president, we were at war and all that stuff and I felt like I really just said what I wanted to say in that song. And there’s a part about… both verses end with laughing. The people are laughing, like: “What did he say?” That’s talking about Bush. The people in America are listening to him going like: “Oh my God, did you hear what he said?” But the exact same thing, the people overseas are listening to him going: “Oh my God, did you hear what he said?” They’re going “this is fucked up, this is scary.” And it was a moment when you felt from whether you were democrat or republican, you definitely knew the severity of your situation. And there are other parts of the song that kinda elaborated on the points, but I also got to include a philosopher’s line that I really loved and a lot of our younger fans attributed it to me which is so sad. But it’s a Sartre line. It says: “When the rich wage war, it's the poor who die.” And I’ve found a way to work that into a verse which is not something I usually do." The Jean-Paul Sartre line was taken from the 1951 play The Devil And The Good Lord.

When questioned about his favorite line he ever wrote for a song, Mike said he doesn't have one, but added, "These days people keep mentioning Hands Held High. I am proud of that song, I thought that came out pretty good. One of the reasons that song pops to my head is cause of the situation today, but I also remember sitting on the stairs. I was on my computer and I saw an article about American soldiers in Iraq who had seen violence against little kids. Like, being chased down and harmed, and I wrote the second verse about that situation. But it was also I felt like there were so many parallels between both of them. I mean in a conflict like that, for all of the differences the two sides have that they're at war over, there's also similarities in the reasons that they're going to war and the things they feel. People who aren't soldiers feel."[2]

At the end of the Minutes To Midnight recording sessions, Linkin Park invited composer David Campbell back, who they previously worked with on Meteora, to add string arrangements to six songs, four of which made the album outright - "Leave Out All The Rest", "Shadow Of The Day", "Hands Held High", "The Little Things Give You Away", bonus track "No Roads Left", and outtake "Blackbirds". David Campbell, Mike, and Brad wrote the string arrangements, with David conducting the violin, viola, cello, and bass performances which are highlighted on the album's DVD.

Remix

An 8-bit rendition of "Hands Held High" was created for inclusion in 8-Bit Rebellion!, and the verse and chorus of the song were used as ringtones.

Versions

Note: Only the date of the very first release of each version is listed.

Studio

Title Album Length Recorded Released Notes
Hands Held High Minutes To Midnight 3:53 2006-2007 May 14, 2007
  • Contains a reference to Jean-Paul Sartre's 1951 play The Devil And The Good Lord.
Hands Held High Minutes To Midnight (Clean)

8-Bit Rebellion!

3:53 2006-2007 May 14, 2007
Hands Held High Minutes To Midnight Instrumentals 4:00 2006-2007
  • The CD dates from May 24, 2007.
  • Official instrumental version.

Remix

Title Album Length Recorded Released Notes
Hands Held High (8 Bit Rebellion Version) 8-Bit Rebellion! Ringtones 0:30 2010 April 17, 2010
  • 8-bit version.
  • Verse only.
Hands Held High (8 Bit Rebellion Version) 8-Bit Rebellion! Ringtones 0:31 2010 April 17, 2010
  • 8-bit version.
  • Chorus only.
Hands Held High (8-Bit) 8-Bit Rebellion! 2:47 2010 April 26, 2010
  • Full 8-bit version.

Live

Title Album Length Recorded Released Notes
Hands Held High Road To Revolution: Live At Milton Keynes 1:26 June 29, 2008 November 21, 2008
  • A capella.
  • Filmed at the National Bowl, Milton Keynes June 29, 2008.
Hands Held High Road To Revolution: Live At Milton Keynes (Clean) 1:26 June 29, 2008 November 21, 2008
  • Censored.
  • A capella.
  • Filmed at the National Bowl, Milton Keynes June 29, 2008.
  • Despite the "Parental Advisory: Explicit Content" warning on the Record Store Day vinyl, all copies are censored.
Hands Held High (Live From Osaka, 2007) Minutes To Midnight - Live Around The World 3:59 November 27, 2007 June 12, 2012

Live

"Hands Held High" was performed mainly during the Minutes To Midnight touring cycle. It debuted on Projekt Revolution 2007, where it was featured mid-set in Set B. By the end of the tour, Set B mutated into a hybrid "Set D", where "Hands Held High" was moved up later into the set. The song was performed in the encore at that year's KROQ Almost Acoustic Christmas, where the song was performed with an extended organ intro featuring a children's choir singing "O Little Town Of Bethlehem" over it. On the Minutes To Midnight European Tour, "Hands Held High" was only featured in Set T. The song was dropped altogether during the summer touring, due to it's multiple harmonies in the chorus being hard to execute live. In an interview with Rolling Stones in November 2008, Mike said the following regarding the song live: "We had put that song in the set and took it out because the chorus has 10 voices singing on it, and live it just never sounded right." He then references the band's show in Milton Keynes, England, where he rapped the first verse of the song a cappella style before "Leave Out All The Rest": "during the Milton Keynes show, there was a fan in front of the crowd who had a sign that said "Play 'Hands Held High.' " Halfway through, I thought, we can't play the song because we aren't prepared — but I can give him the first half. So I just threw the verse in a cappella. In fact, we added that verse to the set, so that kid's sign essentially changed the set for the rest of the year."[3] This is slightly incorrect, as Milton Keynes was not the first time Mike had done this. The first time was in Seinäjoki, Finland, where the song was performed in that style due to him seeing the fan sign at this show, ultimately replacing "In Pieces" in the setlist for the show. Mike once again rapped the first verse of the song at the show following Milton Keynes: at the Edgefest - some band members were late to the show, prompting Mike and Chester to begin the show with a short piano set. After the piano version of "Pushing Me Away", Mike rapped the first verse of "Hands Held High" over a piano instrumental that transitioned into "What I've Done". On Projekt Revolution 2008, Mike began to rap the first verse of the song over the extended "Krwlng" intro of "Crawling". This stayed true for the beginning of 2009, until the show in Graz, Austria, where Mike rapped the second verse of "Hands Held High" instead for the first time. This changed yet again a few shows later at the Tuborg Greenfest, where Mike rapped the first verse of the song a cappella style, and then rapping the second verse over the "Krwlng" intro.

The song was dropped from all setlists until 2014, where Mike rapped the first verse of the song over his solo medley at two shows: Rock am Ring and Greenfield. The song didn't appear in his solo medley again, but did appear when Fort Minor made a comeback. Mike mashed the song up with "Waiting For The End" at Fort Minor shows, featuring the first verse of "Waiting For The End" followed by the verses and chorus of "Hands Held High" over the beat of "Waiting For The End". The mashup concluded with the line, "When the rich wage war, it's the poor that die" being repeated.

In the initial draft of the 2014 set, the first verse of "Hands Held High" was rapped over a shortened instrumental version of "In My Remains" and the second verse was done over an extended version of the "Numb/Encore" intro for "Numb".[4]

Mike rapped the first verse of "Hands Held High" a capella before "Invisible" in London during the One More Light touring cycle.

During his solo show at Gramercy Theater, Mike gave a speech about negativity on social media and his reluctance to talk about politics, referencing meeting some of the Parkland survivors. After his speech, Mike rapped the first verse of "Hands Held High" completely impromptu before going into "Kenji." Later on the tour, "Kenji" gained an extended intro, and Mike would regularly rap the first verse of "Hands Held High" over it. Mike subbed in different verses when "Hands Held High" couldn't be performed in China due to censorship laws. Mike would continue rapping "Hands Held High" over various other songs as the tour continued. He would sporadically rap the first verse over the piano part of "Wisdom, Justice, And Love" and once rapped the second verse over it in San Francisco. Once "Lift Off" became a constant in the set on the 2019 European tour, Mike would frequently rap either the first or second verse over the track.

Variations

Linkin Park

Last Updated: July 18, 2018

Type Description First Played Last Played
Intro Ext. Intro w/ Children's Choir singing "O Little Town Of Bethlehem" December 8, 2007 December 8, 2007
Alternative Verse 1 Acapella June 13, 2008 July 3, 2017
Alternative Verse 1 Acapella over piano July 12, 2008 July 12, 2008

Fort Minor

Last Updated: December 24, 2015

Type Description First Played Last Played
Mashup Waiting For The End/Hands Held High June 29, 2015 September 8, 2015

Mike Shinoda

Last Updated: July 18, 2018

Type Description First Played Last Played
Alternative Verse 1 Acapella June 20, 2018 June 20, 2018

Personnel

  • Chester Bennington
  • Mike Shinoda
  • Brad Delson
  • Dave "Phoenix" Farrell
  • Joseph Hahn
  • Rob Bourdon

Orchestra

  • Arrangements: David Campbell, Mike Shinoda, and Brad Delson
  • Conducting: David Campbell
  • Violin: Charlie Bisharat, Mario DeLeon, Armen Garabedian, Julian Hallmark, Gerry Hilera, Songa Lee-Kitto, Natalie Leggett, Josefina Vergara, and Sara Parkins
  • Viola: Matt Funes and Andrew Picken
  • Cello: Larry Corbett and Suzie Katayama
  • Bass: Oscar Hidalgo

Production

  • Produced by Rick Rubin and Mike Shinoda
  • Engineers: Dana Neilsen, Andrew Schelps, and Ethan Mates
  • Engineer Assisting: Phillip Broussard, Jr.
  • Mixing: Neal Avron
  • Mixing Assisting: Nicolas Fournier and George Gumbs
  • Mastering: Dave Collins

Lyrics

Album Version

Turn my
Mic up louder I got to say something
Lightweights step it aside when we come in
Feel it in your chest / The syllables get pumping
People on the street they panic and start running
Words on loose leaf sheet complete coming
I jump in my mind and summon the rhyme I'm dumping
Healing the blind I promise to let the sun in
Sick of the dark ways we march to the drum and
Jump when they tell us that they wanna see jumping
Fuck that / I wanna see some fists pumping
Risk something / Take back what's yours
Say something that you know they might attack you for
Cause I'm sick of being treated like I have before
Like it's stupid standing for what I'm standing for
Like this war's really just a different brand of war
Like it doesn't cater to rich and abandon poor
Like they understand you in the back of the jet / When you
Can't put gas in your tank / And these fuckers are
Laughing their way to the bank / And cashing their check
Asking you to have compassion / And have some respect
For a leader so nervous in an obvious way
Stuttering and mumbling for nightly news to replay
And the rest of the world watching at the end of the day
In the living room laughing like
What did he say

Amen
Amen
Amen
Amen
Amen

In my living room watching it / I am not laughing / Cause
When it gets tense I know what might happen
World is cold / The bold men take action
Have to react or get blown into fractions
Ten years old / It's something to see / Another
Kid my age drugged under a Jeep
Taken and bound / And found later under a tree
I wonder if he had thought the next one could be me
Do you see / The soldiers / They're out today they
Brush the dust from bulletproof vests away
It's ironic / At times like this you pray
But a bomb blew the mosque up yesterday
There's bombs on the buses / Bikes / Roads
Inside your market / Your shops / Your clothes / My dad
He's got a lot of fear I know
But enough pride inside not to let that show
My brother had a book he would hold with pride
A little red cover with a broken spine
On the back / He hand wrote a quote inside:
"When the rich wage war it's the poor who die"
Meanwhile / The leader just talks away
Stuttering and mumbling for nightly news to replay
The rest of the world watching at the end of the day
Both scared and angry like
What did he say

Amen
Amen
Amen
Amen
Amen

With hands held high into a sky so blue
Amen
As the ocean opens up to swallow you
Amen
With hands held high into a sky so blue
Amen
As the ocean opens up to swallow you
Amen
With hands held high into a sky so blue
Amen
As the ocean opens up to swallow you
Amen
With hands held high into a sky so blue
Amen
As the ocean opens up to swallow you
Amen
With hands held high into a sky so blue
Amen
As the ocean opens up to swallow you
Amen
With hands held high into a sky so blue
Amen
As the ocean opens up to swallow you

Gallery

In Other Media

  • "Hands Held High" (in both studio and 8-bit versions) is featured in Linkin Park's 2010 videogame 8-Bit Rebellion!.

External Links

References