Ain’t We Crazy (Haywire Mac McClintock)

“Ain’t We Crazy” is a compendium of old joke rhymes I picked up from a 1928 recording by Harry “Haywire Mac” McClintock, the composer (or compiler, or at least official claimant) of the hobo classics  “Hallelujah, I’m a Bum” and “Big Rock Candy Mountain,” and likewise my source for another absurd novelty, “The Cowboy Fireman” (a.k.a. “The Trusty Lariat”).

There was a lot of nonsense verse like this circulating in the late 19th and early 20th centuries — my father, born in 1906, used to recite a Yiddish dialect parody of “The Face on the Barroom Floor” called “Jake the Plumber,” which began similarly:

‘Tvas a balmy summer’s ivning, but zirro ‘tvas below,
De ren vas falling brightly, end de sun vas shining snow…

I’ve always enjoyed clever, complicated lyrics, and this one felt like a connection to a world of nimble folk rhymesters — vernacular Cole Porters — plus, at the time I was living with a woman who had childhood memories of her father reciting a version, and she enjoyed it. I don’t think I ever played it onstage, but I recorded it on my CD, Street Corner Cowboys (now available for download from Bandcamp), with the other musicians singing along on the chorus — notably Paul Geremia, one of the most tasteful blues players and singers on the planet, doing a nutty Jerry Lewis voice.

Before posting this, I did a search through newspapers from the hundred years before McClintock recorded it, and found many of the rhyming couplets, as well as plenty of similar silliness, but his record is the earliest evidence of all of them in one place and the “Ain’t We Crazy” chorus. So maybe he wrote this one as well.

And that’s all there is to be said about it… enjoy.