Ain't We Crazy

Harry, Haywire Mac, McClintock

"Ain't We Crazy" was recorded in 1928 by Harry McClintock, aka "Haywire Mac" or "Radio Mac". A few other performers did it too, but Harry is the likely author. In his time Harry was a railroad man in the U.S. and in Africa, a seaman, a mule-train packer in the Philippines, and an aide to a news crew covering the Boxer Rebellion in China.

Harry was a Wobbly, a member of the Industrial Workers of the World, and organized in the oil fields of West Texas. He is best remembered as a radio performer and the songs he sang of labor, hobos and working people: "Joe Hill", "Preacher and the Slave", "The Great American Bum", "Big Rock Candy Mountian" and others.

I learned this song listening to Mac's 78 rpm recording on my grandmother's old Victrola as a young child. The Victrola was a hand-cranked player made by the "Victor Talking Machine Company" around 1918 and featured a "horn compartment" that was hidden away behind to little doors making for an elegant furniture piece as well as phonograph. Enrico Caruso had one too. I spent many hours spinning records on that machine and "Ain't We Crazy" was probably my favorite.


Now, I know a little ditty, it's as crazy as can be
The guy who wrote it said he wanted it, and handed it to me
I found I couldn't use it, because it sounded blue
And that's the very reason why I'm handing it to you

It's a song the alligators sing, while coming through the rye
As they serenade the elephants, up in the trees so high
The iceman hums this ditty, as he shovels in the coal
And the monkeys join the chorus, up around the northern pole

Ain't we crazy, ain't we crazy
This is the way we pass the time away
Ain't we crazy, ain't we crazy
We're going to sing this song all night today

It was midnight on the ocean, not a streetcar was in sight
And the sun was shining brightly, for it rained all day that night
'Twas a summer night in winter, and the rain was snowing fast
And a barefoot boy with shoes on stood a-sitting in the grass

It was evening, and the rising sun was setting in the west
The little fishes in the trees were huddled in their nests
The rain was pouring down and the moon was shining bright
And everything that you could see was hidden out of sight

While the organ peeled potatoes, lard was rendered by the choir
The sexton rung the dishrag, someone set the church on fire
"Holy smoke!" The preacher shouted, in the rain he lost his hair
Now his head resembles heaven, for there is no parting there

The cows were making cowslips, and the bells were ringing wet
And the bumblebees were making bums, and smoking cigarettes
And a man slept in a stable, and came out a little hoarse
So he hopped upon his golf sticks, and drove all around the course

Ain't we crazy, ain't we crazy . . .

It was midnight on the ocean, not a horsecar was in sight
As I stepped into the drugstore, to get myself a light
The man behind the counter, was a woman old and gray
Who used to peddle shoestrings, on the road to Mandalay.

"Good evening, sir," the woman said, and her eyes were bright with tears
As she put her head beneath her feet, and stood that way for years
Her children, six, were orphans, except one tiny tot
Who lived in a house across the street above a vacant lot

Ain't we crazy . . .