"Hand Over Fist" as written by and Geddy Lee Weinrib Neil Peart....
Hand over fist
Paper around the stone
Scissors cut the paper
Cut the paper to the bone
Hand over fist
Paper around the stone
Scissors cut the paper
And the rock must stand alone

I could disappear into the crowd
But not if I keep my head in the clouds
I could walk away so proud
It's easy enough if you don't laugh too loud

I thought I was okay alone
Wait for the postman and the telephone
Lost in a world of my own
I thought I could run alone
Thought I could run through the night alone

Hand over hand
Doesn't seem so much
Hand over hand
Is the strength of the common touch

You talk as we walk along
You never imagined I could be so wrong
Humming your favorite song
You know I've hated that song for so long

How can we ever agree?
Like the rest of the world
We grow farther apart
I swear you don't listen to me
Holding my hand to my heart
Holding my fist to my racing heart

Take a walk outside myself
In some exotic land
Greet a passing stranger
Feel the strength in his hand
Feel the world expand

I feel my spirit resist
But I open up my fist
Lay hand over hand over
Hand over fist


Lyrics submitted by shed27, edited by OneQuickSix

"Hand Over Fist" as written by Gary Lee Weinrib Neil Elwood Peart

Lyrics © OLE MEDIA MANAGEMENT LP

Lyrics powered by LyricFind

Hand Over Fist song meanings
Add your thoughts

10 Comments

sort form View by:
  • +1
    My InterpretationThe interpretation of a song (or a poem, book or an event or a gesture) is a subjective exercise. What it means for one person may be different than what it means for someone else, with neither person being necessary wrong about their interpretation (although it is possible to be totally wrong -- some people just don't get it). Anyway, here's my interpretation of Hand Over Fist.

    1. The song is about personal relationships (in the sense of couples and romantic relationships). Knowledge of the rules of the game "rock-paper-scissors" is required for understanding this song. Rock-paper-scissors is a hand game usually played by two people, where players simultaneously form one of three shapes with an outstretched hand. The "rock" beats scissors, the "scissors" beat paper and the "paper" beats rock. The rock is represented by a clenched fist. Scissors are represented by two fingers extended and separated, sometimes coming together. Paper is represented by an open hand, with the fingers extended in order to represent a sheet of paper. The objective is to select a gesture which defeats that of the opponent. Gestures are resolved as follows: rock breaks scissors (meaning, rock defeats scissors); scissors cut paper (meaning, scissors defeats paper); and paper covers rock (meaning, paper defeats rock).

    2. When a person takes one hand and covers the fist they've made with their other hand ("Hand over fist") that is like paper covering the rock in "rock-paper-scissors" ("Paper around the stone "). In this situation, if the paper is wrapped around the stone then the stone (or fist) can't be seen. A person holding their fist also can't use it to fight. Also consider, if a person is using their left hand to hold and cover the fist they are making with their right hand, the person doesn't have any hands left to be productive with.

    3. How many people make a couple? Two. Make the gesture for the number two with your hand. What does it look like? It looks like the scissors symbol from "rock-paper-scissors".

    4. Scissors win over paper in "rock-paper-scissors". If scissors (now also representing a romantic relationship or a couple) are introduced to a situation where the first person has had a handle over, or control over their fist (a fist also being a symbol for combativeness, opposition and negative emotions) and therefore has had their fist personality under control, then scissors (the relationship experience) can cause the fist personality to become exposed and no longer be under control. The relationship experience (with all that is involved -- emotions, jealousy, sex, finances, in-laws, children, co-habiting) is a powerful one and it has the potential power to cause significant damage, to cut right to the bone. ("Scissors cut the paper - Cut the paper to the bone"). The relationship experience can cause a person's fist personality or behaviour to become exposed. Where it was formerly both under cover and under control, it will now be exposed as a result of the relationship. ("Hand over fist - Paper around the stone - Scissors cut the paper - And the rock must stand alone .")

    5. The relationship experience also eventually, if enough time goes by, results in a reality check occuring for a person. No one will more bluntly tell you your faults or shortcomings or how unremarkable you are than your spouse. Perhaps you once thought you were special and different and had dreams about things or circumstances where you were exceptional. Perhaps you believed you were the catch your mother told you you were. Reality is different. You may not be, especially from your spouse's perspective. ("I could disappear into the crowd - But not if I keep my head in the clouds - I could walk away so proud - It's easy enough if you don't laugh too loud ").

    6. Some people may think they're independent. They may think that they don't need a relationship. They may believe their future is bright because they believe that news of this bright future is always just about to arrive. They may convince themselves that they're not lonely, even at night when the instincts or need for pair bonding may be the strongest. ("I thought I was okay alone - Wait for the postman and the telephone - Lost in a world of my own - I thought I could run alone - Thought I could run through the night alone ").

    7. Then, along comes this relationship opportunity. It may not seem like a threat. It likely begins with a handshake and then, as the pair become a couple, results in holding hands, touching each other, etc.. Being intimate and close with another is a powerful experience. ("Hand over hand - Doesn't seem so much - Hand over hand - Is the strength of the common touch ").

    8. Eventually, the relationship takes a toll on each other. They disagree, they fight, they don't understand each other, and they start to get annoyed by even the littlest things -- things that would be acceptable if done by a stranger, but are infuriating when done by their partner. ("You talk as we walk along - You never imagined I could be so wrong - Humming your favorite song - You know I've hated that song for so long").

    9. The couple is so far apart now it seems like they can't agree on anything. They seem like: (i) different countries and cultures in the world, some racing toward enlightened 1st world existence while others are stuck in 3rd world societies with mystical beliefs; or (ii) a society with an increasing wealth gap; or (iii) parties at the opposite ends of the political spectrum. ("How can we ever agree? - Like the rest of the world - We grow farther apart").

    10. When a person swears an oath (of allegiance, for example) a person may place their right hand on their chest and over their heart. In the context of "rock-paper-scissors" and the discussion above about "hand over fist" (preventing a fist personality or fist behavior from being exposed), what would the result be in a "hand over heart" situation? The heart would be covered (a loveless situation). But there's more to consider than just a "paper vs heart" outcome. Who would win in a "rock vs. heart" situation? The emotions would surely run high. Think about a game of "rock-paper-scissors-heart". ("I swear you don't listen to me - Holding my hand to my heart - Holding my fist to my racing heart").

    11. Try now and think objectively. It's inherently impossible, but try. Leave your emotions behind if you can. Enter a world where you're not you. What advice would you give to someone (or yourself) if you could actually do that? You'd find that cooperation and getting help from others is the most powerful remedy to your problems and the key towards a better quality of life. No person is an island. Work together for better results. Instead of playing "rock-paper-scissors" where there is one winner and one loser, what if you used your hands to shake hands, cooperate and help others? ("Take a walk outside myself - In some exotic land - Greet a passing stranger - Fell the strength in his hand - Feel the world expand").

    12. It may be against one's nature to seek cooperation and mutual assistance rather than independence and self interest. It may feel strange to concsiously choose a more vulnerable position and bring your guard down (note that someone making a fist is always ready for a fight, whether on offence or defence). By using your hands to help others (by "giving them a hand" as the expression goes), reaching agreements (as evidenced by people shaking hands), showing care and tenderness (by holding hands), the hands of others will be there to figuratively cover the fists. Think also about a sports team in a huddle where they put all of their hands together, in the middle of a circle and on on top of one another, as a sign of teamwork and togetherness before they make a cheer and break the huddle in order to go and execute their game plan. Hand over hand situations may occur with some of the best events in life (see #7 above too) and hand over hand strategies (teamwork, cooperation and agreement) may be the best way to maximize social and economic outcomes. Maybe a spouse's hand can cover their partner's fist if the partner were to reach out and use his/her hands to help the spouse. ("I feel my spirit resist - But I open up my fist - Lay hand over hand over - Hand over fist").
    DancingHectoron November 27, 2013   Link
  • 0
    General CommentA great vocal vocal perfomance from Geddy, and the band as a whole. Neil's insistent drumming really carries this track along.
    Razormasticatoron July 06, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General CommentCouldn't tell you what it means for the life of me, but it's a great song. No, Neil's drumming carries MOST of Rush's songs while Alex's acoustics carry this song, but, yes, Lee's vocal performance to this track is impressive.
    robinjay490on January 04, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI love this song- no idea what it's supposed to be about- the chorus seems like the game rock, paper, scissors, which is kind of funny. Great song, though
    classic_rocker8on August 30, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General Commentit's about how holding hands(forgiving) beats rock, paper, scissors.....I feel my spirit resist
    But I open up my fist
    Lay hand over hand over
    Clmax311on January 02, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General Commenti think it means that we shouldn't be playing these competitive games like rocks paper scissors, rather we should be making peace
    homy9015on January 18, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI agree with "Clmax311". Another verse to back up this theory:

    Hand over hand
    Doesn't seem so much
    Hand over hand
    Is the strength of the common touch
    NUMBER 4on March 17, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General CommentSimply put it's about peace, or forgiveness as Clmax mentioned above.
    Lateralus518on May 07, 2009   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI also agree that it is about peace. But I think Neil is also talking about opening up to the world. The subject of the song was holding his hand to his fist and staying closed. His challenge was to open his fist and shake hands, meaning interacting with others. (Lay hand over hand)
    Apollo2112on September 04, 2011   Link
  • 0
    My InterpretationHand over Fist: Paper covers Rock.

    Symbolic: an open, accepting hand beats the closed fists of anger and resentment.
    Scissors are the bitter words, intolerant ideas and hurtful actions that drive friends/people apart. The stone is a defiant, bitter heart, which nothing can destroy, except an open hand of acceptance.
    louie10153on June 29, 2015   Link

Add your thoughts

Log in now to tell us what you think this song means.

Don’t have an account? Create an account with SongMeanings to post comments, submit lyrics, and more. It’s super easy, we promise!

Back to top
explain