Saturday, March 28, 2015

AccuRadio Song Of The Day-Harry McClintock

Artist:Harry McClintock
Song:Big Rock Candy Mountain
Album:Haywire Mac

I'm pretty sure most of you think Big Rock Candy Mountain is a classic children's song as popularized by Burl Ives. But the song started out as a hobo song written by real life hobo Harry McClintock. He performed as Haywire Mac but he never recorded Big Rock Candy Mountain until 1953. He was born Oct. 8, 1882 in Knoxville, TN. He sang in church when he was a child but he also ran away from home to join the circus. By age 14, McClintock left home for good and spent most of his time riding trains as a hobo. He was also in The Philippines during The Spanish American War and was a one time union organizer. His experience as a hobo led him to write Hallelujah I'm A Bum and then Big Rock Candy Mountain. Both of these songs are considered to be traditional folk songs so McClintock didn't get credit for writing them. In 1925, McClintock got his own radio show and then recorded for RCA as Haywire Mac. He eventually sued to establish his copyright for Big Rock Candy Mountain. The song is about fantasies McClintock heard when he was a child. But the song also has hobo references that he had to remove before anyone would record the song. Big Rock Candy Mountain by Robert "Tex" Morgan topped the country charts in 1939. But the song was a huge hit when Burl Ives recorded it in 1949 and today that recording is considered a children's music perennial. Big Rock Candy Mountain was also featured in the 2000 film O Brother Where Art Thou. McClintock moved to Hollywood in 1938 and appeared as a bad guy in westerns. He moved to San Francisco in 1953 to host a radio show. And that's also when folksinger Sam Eskin interviewed him and got him to sing some of his songs. These recordings are available on CD from Folkways Records. McClintock continued with his radio show until he died on Apr. 24, 1957 at age 74. Here's a video for Big Rock Candy Mountain by Harry McClintock.

1 comment:

  1. I had no idea of the true origins of this song. As a child I heard Burl Ives sing this song on the Captain Kangaroo Show. Years later on a website or in a written article I heard references to this song as a hobo song. I am glad to have read the full, true story. For the record, I still like Burl Ives version as well. Brings back fond childhood memories.