|Born||Harry Kirby McClintock
October 8, 1882
|Died||April 24, 1957
San Francisco, California
|Other names||Haywire Mac, Radio Mac, Strawlegs Martin|
|Occupation||boomer, author, poet, busker, cowboy, union organizer|
|Known for||"Big Rock Candy Mountain", "Hallelujah, I'm a Bum"|
Harry Kirby McClintock (October 8, 1882 - April 24, 1957), also known as "Haywire Mac", was an American singer, songwriter, and poet, best known for his song "Big Rock Candy Mountain".
Born in Knoxville, Tennessee, "the son of a railroad cabinet maker and nephew of four boomer trainmen". His drifting began when he ran away from home as a boy to join a circus. He railroaded in Africa, worked as a seaman, saw action in the Philippines as a civilian mule-train packer, supplying American troops with food and ammunition, and in 1899 found himself in China as an aide to newsmen covering the Boxer Rebellion. Back in the States, he hired out to the Pittsburgh, Fort Wayne and Chicago Railway in the Pittsburgh area, and from there he took the boomer trail as railroader and a minstrel. Mac lived an adventurous life and never lost his sense of humor".
His song "Big Rock Candy Mountain" (1928), much later featured in the 2000 movie O Brother, Where Art Thou?, reached No. 1 on Billboard's "Hillbilly Hits" chart in 1939. Having worked as a cowboy himself, McClintock was one of the few "country" singers who had an authentic background from which to draw.
He was included in Robert Crumb's series of "Heroes of Blues, Jazz and Country" trading cards.
He is credited as being the first person to sing "The Preacher and the Slave", a song by Joe Hill, in public. He was a lifelong member of the Industrial Workers of the World. In the early 1920s he worked and organized union men in the oil fields of west Texas, where he met and recruited writer Jim Thompson, who later incorporated him into several short stories using the name "Strawlegs Martin."