Hammer To Fall

Album: Works (1984)
Charted: 13
Play Video


  • Queen guitarist Brian May wrote this song, and it is often speculated by those in the Queen camp that he wrote heavy rockers like this and "Tear It Up" in response to the band experimenting with synths more on tracks like "I Want to Break Free," where notably he was forced to back down and have a synth solo rather than a guitar solo. Perhaps in frustration he wrote such straightforward rock songs like "Hammer To Fall."
  • It's easy to assume the song is purely about the end of the world and the Cold War escalating (with the "hammer" of the title referring to the hammer and sickle of the USSR emblem, and references to "in the shadow of the mushroom cloud"), but in fact the song is more about life and death in general, and how it comes to us all and does not discriminate ("Rich or poor or famous, for your truth is all the same", "Comes to you as to us all, now it's time for the Hammer to Fall").

    Brian May confirmed the meaning on his website in 2004, when he noted, "The hammer coming down is only a symbol of the Grim Reaper doing his job!"
  • A wildly energetic rocker, this song quickly became a fan favorite live and settled into the band's lineup alongside similar songs like "Tear It Up," "Seven Seas of Rhye," "Fat Bottomed Girls" and "Tie Your Mother Down." It featured prominently on the Works and Magic tours, and was the third song in their six-song setlist at Live Aid in 1985. A highlight for many of Queen's Live Aid performance is Freddie Mercury breaking off halfway through the second verse to do an impromptu ballet dance with a BBC cameraman.

    The song also featured in many of Brian May's solo sets in the 1990s, being a set closer on his 1993 Live at Brixton Academy album, and made a strong return during the Queen+Paul Rodgers tours, with the powerful rock vocals suiting Rodgers' bluesy style. On the Return of the Champions tour in 2005, the first 2/3s of the song were performed in a bluesy ballad style, with May kicking back into the original rock arrangement just before the "Rich or poor or famous..." bridge.
  • This plays in the season 2 Stranger Things episode "The Spy" when Steve and Dustin are en route to capture Dustin's unusual pet.

Comments: 26

  • Quaddy from Argelton, United Kingdomhave to correct Roy from London, on the post above but one, Queen did not write Hammer To Fall for the Highlander OST, the track was already in existence on the album The Works from 1984, two years prior to Highlander (1986), it merely appeared in the film not made for like the others you cite.
  • Bhoomika from Kathmandu, Otherthe version by brian may and paul rodger's at the return of the champions concert is wonderful... Got really touched!
  • Jacob from Harrison, NyThis is my favorite song on the Freddy Mercury Tribute Concert
    Gary Cherone just has a great stage presence about him during this song
  • Mr. B from Doon Bish, EnglandWell Queen did about 8billion apaling songs but this is one of those 30 or so that are pretty mint.
  • Ched - from La Union, PhilippinesI LOVE QUEEN because they reinvent their own music... i like freddie's version (on concerts) and the slow version by brian may and paul rodger's at the return of the champions concert (queen + paul rodger).... BRAVO!!!
  • Josh from TorontoYou gotta think of It's the End of the World as We Know It, by R.E.M, and London Calling by The Clash when you hear this
  • Johnny from Los Angeles, CaThis song always reminds me of Slim Pickens riding the nuke in Dr. Strangelove. I love it.
  • Daniel from Columbus, OhThis song actually did appear in the movie "Highlander". It was playing on the radio when the survivalist guy was driving around and he found the Kurgan sword-fighting the African immortal. The song that was playing when the old lady was on the hood of the car was an instrumental version of "Don't Lose Your Head", on the reverse side of the single "Princess of the Universe" the instrumental version of "Dont Lose Your Head" was entitled "A Dozen Red Roses for my Darling".
  • Jonathon from Clermont, FlThis is a great song. I also really like "Tear It Up" as far as songs off of this particular album.
  • James from Vancouver, CanadaStephen King gave credit to Queen for "Hammer to Fall" in his book, The Tommyknockers - he does so on the first few pages or so.
  • Tim from Dalton, MaI always see this as a anti USSR song with the whole Hammer to Fall part, and Surrender and it won't hurt at all
  • Katie from Somewhere, NjI love the version of this song that they played at Live Aid. In fact, I love it so much that I burned it off the DVD and onto my iPod! ;) Radio Ga Ga was also done very well at Live Aid.
  • Stu from Fife, ScotlandGreat Queen songs often come in pairs, best played in the order on the album, like We Will Rock You and We Are the Champions. Hammer To Fall goes with Is This The World We Created? The first is about Cold War dilemmas - "What the hell're we fighting for? Just surrender and it won't hurt at all!" - and the second song laments the devastation after it all goes wrong.
  • Nathan from Defiance, OhThis proves no matter the decade or style, Queen is always relevent.
  • Jake from Newport, NhActually, when the song was in Highlander, it was played on a cassette, right?

    The song when the old lady was screaming was when Freddie was singing 'New York, New York' on the radio.
  • Alicia from Tamaqua, PaAll I have to say is.... this is a great song! I love listening to it. :-)
  • Kyle from Dallas, TxI hate typos, I'm so ashamed :( lol
  • Kyle from Dallas, TxUm, hatre to get pissy but number 1, Hammer to Fall wasn't made in 1980 so how could it be the theme if the 1980 Lions? Also it was in Highlander, in the scene was the antagonist speeds in the car with the screaming old lady, it's the song playing on the radio.
  • Michael from Hamburg, GermanyIt's a great song!
  • Robert from Washington, Dcthis song WAS in highlander the movie. it's in that part when the vietnam vet is driving around and comes across two men fighting with the swords. the song plays in his car.
  • Rob from Portage, MiThis was the unofficial theme song of the 1980 Detroit Lions, after they started the season 4-0. The Lions are known for somehow blowing big leads, and good starts.
  • Dee from Indianapolis, InAnother great Queen song that never got radio play.
  • Chuck from Joppa, Md, MdPoetic look on the Cold War, and what may happen if nuclear war were to erupt between the United States and Soviet Union. Features Queen in one of their heaviest rock songs.
  • Mike from Sydney, AustraliaHammer to fall was never in the movie Highlander, or on the soundtrack. The unoffical soundtrack to Highlander - made in 1986, was Kind of Magic. The works was released in 1984, two years before Highlander was released.
  • Roy from London, EnglandThis song was one of nine numbers Queen wrote for the soundtrack to the Movie "Highlander",starring Christopher Lambert as the immortal Conor MacLeod. Other tracks include "Who Wants To Live Forever", Princes Of The Universe", and "It's A Kind Of Magic".
  • Tracy from Madison, WiOh my, that is cheery!
see more comments

Editor's Picks

Curt Kirkwood of Meat Puppets

Curt Kirkwood of Meat PuppetsSongwriter Interviews

The (Meat)puppetmaster takes us through songs like "Lake Of Fire" and "Backwater," and talks about performing with Kurt Cobain on MTV Unplugged.


AC/DCFact or Fiction

Does Angus really drink himself silly? Did their name come from a sewing machine? See if you can spot the real stories about AC/DC.

Verdine White of Earth, Wind & Fire

Verdine White of Earth, Wind & FireSongwriter Interviews

The longtime bassist of Earth, Wind & Fire discusses how his band came to do a holiday album, and offers insight into some of the greatest dance/soul tunes of all-time.

Jimmy Webb

Jimmy WebbSongwriter Interviews

Webb talks about his classic songs "By the Time I Get to Phoenix," "Wichita Lineman" and "MacArthur Park."

Mike Love of The Beach Boys

Mike Love of The Beach BoysSongwriter Interviews

The lead singer/lyricist of The Beach Boys talks about coming up with the words for "Good Vibrations," "Fun, Fun, Fun," "Kokomo" and other classic songs.

Name the Character in the Song

Name the Character in the SongMusic Quiz

With a few clues (Works at a diner, dreams of running away), can you name the character in the song?