Harry McClintock

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Harry Kirby McClintock
Harry McClintock.jpg
Harry Kirby McClintock

(1884-10-08)October 8, 1884
DiedApril 24, 1957(1957-04-24) (aged 74)
San Francisco, California
Other namesHaywire Mac, Radio Mac, Strawlegs Martin
Occupation(s)boomer, author, poet, busker, cowboy, union organizer
Known for"The Big Rock Candy Mountains", "Hallelujah, I'm a Bum"

Harry Kirby McClintock (October 8, 1884 – April 24, 1957), also known as "Haywire Mac", was an American railroad man, radio personality, actor, singer, songwriter, and poet, best known for his song "The Big Rock Candy Mountains".


Harry McClintock was born on October 8, 1884 in Uhrichsville, Ohio.[1][non-primary source needed] Both his parents were from nearby Tippecanoe, Ohio; however, his family moved to Knoxville, Tennessee soon after his birth. In his youth, McClintock ran away from home to join the circus and drifted from place to place throughout his life. He railroaded in Africa, worked as a seaman, supplied food and ammunition to American soldiers while working as a civilian mule-train packer in the Philippines, and in 1899 worked as an aid to newsmen in China covering the Boxer Rebellion.

In America, Mac traveled as a railroader and minstrel.[2][3] He worked for numerous railroads during his life.

On October 8, 1917, McClintock married Bessie K. Johnson in Farmington City, Utah.[citation needed] They had one daughter.[2]

Radio and music[edit]

In 1925, McClintock participated in a KFRC Radio talent contest.[4] His performance of his song "The Big Rock Candy Mountains" won him spots on two new KFRC radio shows: a children's program titled Mac and His Gang where he sang popular cowboy songs with his "Haywire Orchestry",[5][6][note 1] and a variety program titled Blue Monday Jamboree, which he hosted with Meredith Willson, Bea Benaderet, Edna Fischer,[8] and future I Love Lucy producer Jess Oppenheimer.[9][10] McClintock was also a member of Al Pearce's The Happy Go Lucky Hour,[11] a KFRC spin-off of Blue Monday Jamboree, alongside Edna Fischer and Tommy Harris.[12]

"The Big Rock Candy Mountain" reached No. 1 on Billboard's "Hillbilly Hits" chart in 1939. The song was featured in the 2000 Coen brothers' film O Brother, Where Art Thou?.[13] McClintock's song "The Old Chisholm Trail" was featured in the end credits of "The Grandest Enterprise Under God" (episode 5) of the TV documentary miniseries The West. He was included in Robert Crumb's series of "Heroes of Blues, Jazz and Country" trading cards.[14]


McClintock was an active spellbinder for the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW). He served with Frank Little in the Fresno Free Speech Fight from January 12 to March 4, 1911, and participated in the Tucker Utah strike on June 14, 1913, with Joe Hill.[15][16] McClintock wrote the marching song of the IWW, "Hallelujah, I'm a Bum", and he is credited with being the first person to sing Hill's song "The Preacher and the Slave" in public.[17] In the early 1920s, McClintock worked and organized union men in the oil fields of West Texas, where he met and recruited author Jim Thompson, who later incorporated him into several short stories using the name Strawlegs Martin.[18]


Selected discography[edit]


Title Recording Date Label / Catalog Number Note
Ain't We Crazy? 1928-09-06 Victor V-40101 [19]
The Big Rock Candy Mountains 1928-09-06 Victor Talking Machine Co. 21704-B [20]
Hallelujah! I'm a Bum 1928-03-31 Victor 21343-B (42137) Reverse side is "The Bum Song".[21]
Get Along, Little Dogies 1928-03-01 Victor V-40016
Fireman, Save My Child 1929-12-15 Victor V-40234
The Texas Ranger 1928-03-01 Victor 21487
Jerry, Go Oil That Car 1928-03-16 Victor 21521
The Bum Song 1928-03-16 Victor 21343
The Trail to Mexico 1928-03-09 Victor V-40016
The Old Chisholm Trail 1928-03-22 Victor 21421
Circus Days 1928-03-31 Victor 21567
Goodbye, Old Paint 1928-03-01 Victor 21761
The Bum Song #2 1928-09-06 Victor 21704
The Trusty Lariat 1929-12-15 Victor V-40234
My Last Dollar 1928-03-22 Victor 23690
Billy Venero 1928-03-31 Victor 21487
Red River Valley 1928-03-27 Vi 21421-B
Roamin 1929-12-15 Vi V-40264
Sam Bass 1928-03-01 Vi 22420
Hobo's Spring Song 1929-04-30 Vi 22003-A V-40112
Jesse James 1928-03-09 Vi 21420 LPV548
If I Had My Druthers 1929-04-30 Vi 22003-B V-40112
Dad's Dinner Pail 1928-03-09 Vi 21521


Title Year Label / Catalog Number
Haywire Mac 1950 Cook Records 01124
Harry K. McClintock "Haywire Mac" 1972 Folkways Records FD 5272
Hallelujah! I'm a Bum 1981 Rounder Records 1009


Title Year Label / Catalog Number Track
Songs to Grow On, Vol. 3: American Work Songs 1951 Folkways Records 07027 Track 4: "Jerry, Go Oil That Car"
Cowboy Songs on Folkways 1991 Smithsonian Folkways 40043 Track 7: "Utah Carl"
Folk Song America, Vol. 1 1991 Smithsonian Collection 461 Track 5: "Big Rock Candy Mountain"
Railroad Songs of the Early 1900s 1998 Rounder Select 1143 Track 20: "Jerry, Go Oil That Car"
O Brother, Where Art Thou? 2000 Lost Highway Records 170069 Track 2: "Big Rock Candy Mountain [sic]"
Back in the Saddle Again: American Cowboy Songs 2004 New World Records Track 1: "Old Chisholm Trail"



  • "Railroaders are Tough" (Railroad Magazine, April, 1943)
  • "Boomer and Their Women" (Railroad Magazine, December, 1957)


  • "New Publications – Railroad Songs of Yesteryear" (Railroad Magazine, August 1943) Short biography is part of review.


  1. ^ This record's album cover (1972 - Folkways Records, FD 5272) is a 1929 photograph of "Mac's Haywire Orchestry". Names from left to right: Cecil "Rowdy" Wright (guitar), Waite "Chief" Woodall (fiddle), Frank Gilmore (accordion), Cleo "Doc" Shahan (guitar), "Duck" Buckholtz (drums), Asa "Ace" Wright (fiddle), Jerry Richard (banjo), Frank Baker (piano), Bessie McClintock (vocals) and "Haywire Mac" McClintock (banjo, guitar and vocals).[7]


  1. ^ (Certified Copy of Birth Record)The State of Ohio, Tuscarawas County Probate Court No. 100191, Record of Births, Date Filed June 4, 1885 Vol. 1, Page 383, No. 35, Witness my signature and the seal of said Court, at New Philadelphia, Ohio, this 26th day of October, 1981. Judge George J. Demis By Janet Lane Deputy Clerk.
  2. ^ a b "Bluegrass Messengers - Harry "Haywire Mac" McClintock- 1928". Bluegrassmessengers.com.
  3. ^ "He's Gone to the Big Rock Candy Mountain", Railroad Magazine, Vol. 68 No. 6, Oct. 1957 p. 57
  4. ^ "San Francisco Radio". Theradiohistorian.org.
  5. ^ "San Francisco Radio". Oldradio.com.
  6. ^ "Harry "Haywire Mac" McClintock - KFRC Radio, San Francisco". Bay Area Radio Museum. August 12, 2014.
  7. ^ "Harry McClintock : Haywire Mac" (PDF). Ia800305.us.archive.org. Retrieved 2023-04-03.
  8. ^ "Edna Fischer (1902-1997) – San Francisco's First Lady of Radio". Sfmuseum.org.
  9. ^ "Famous Radio Broadcasters : Poster" (JPG). Web.archive.org. Retrieved 3 April 2023.
  10. ^ "KFRC's Blue Monday Jamboree Artists and Staff". Oldradio.com.
  11. ^ "The Happy Go Lucky Hour". Theradiohistorian.org.
  12. ^ "The History of KFRC Radio, San Francisco". Bay Area Radio Museum. August 11, 2014.
  13. ^ "O Brother, Where Art Thou? (Music From The Motion Picture)". May 5, 2000 – via Internet Archive.
  14. ^ "Coming This Week | Robert crumb art, Robert crumb, Robert crumb comic". Pinterest.com. Retrieved 3 April 2023.
  15. ^ Tucker Utah strike on June 14, 1913 (Salt Lake Tribune).
  16. ^ "Joe Hill", Gibbs M. Smith, INC. Peregrine Smith Books, Salt Lake City 1984, photo of spellbinders Mac McClintock and Joe Hill on p. 118
  17. ^ "Long Haired Preacher (Preacher and the Slave) - YouTube". Web.archive.org. 7 May 2022. Retrieved 3 April 2023.
  18. ^ Burnett, Jay. "Things Are Not As They Seem". The Penniless Press On-Line. Retrieved 21 May 2013.
  19. ^ "Victor matrix BVE-46452. Ain't we crazy? / Radio Mac - Discography of American Historical Recordings". Adp.library.ucsb.edu.
  20. ^ "Victor matrix BVE-46454. The Big Rock Candy Mountains / Mac [i.e., Harry K. McClintock] - Discography of American Historical Recordings". Adp.library.ucsb.edu.
  21. ^ [1] Archived 2022-12-05 at the Wayback Machine Discography of American Historical Recordings, s.v. "Victor 21343 (Black label (popular) 10-in. double-faced)," accessed October 6, 2021.

Further reading[edit]

  • "Haywire Mac and the Big Rock Candy Mountain" (Stillhouse Hollow Publishers Inc., Copyright 1981) By Henry Young. Santa Fe Railway locomotive engineer Retired Oct. 31, 1974. Goodreads

External links[edit]