They're Coming To Take Me Away, Ha-haaa

Album: They're Coming To Take Me Away, Ha-haaa (1966)
Charted: 4 3
  • Remember when you ran away
    And I got on my knees
    And begged you not to leave
    Because I'd go beserk

    Well you left me anyhow
    And then the days got worse and worse
    And now you see I've gone
    Completely out of my mind

    And they're coming to take me away ha-haaa
    They're coming to take me away ho ho hee hee ha haaa
    To the funny farm
    Where life is beautiful all the time
    And I'll be happy to see those nice young men
    In their clean white coats
    And they're coming to take me away ha haaa

    You thought it was a joke
    And so you laughed
    You laughed when I said
    That losing you would make me flip my lid

    Right? You know you laughed
    I heard you laugh. You laughed
    You laughed and laughed and then you left
    But now you know I'm utterly mad

    And they're coming to take me away ha haaa
    They're coming to take me away ho ho hee hee ha haaa
    To the happy home with trees and flowers and chirping birds
    And basket weavers who sit and smile and twiddle their thumbs and toes
    And they're coming to take me away ha haaa

    I cooked your food
    I cleaned your house
    And this is how you pay me back
    For all my kind unselfish, loving deeds
    Ha! Well you just wait
    They'll find you yet and when they do
    They'll put you in the A.S.P.C.A.
    You mangy mutt

    And they're coming to take me away ha haaa
    They're coming to take me away ha haaa ho ho hee hee
    To the funny farm where life is beautiful all the time
    And I'll be happy to see those nice young men
    In their clean white coats

    And they're coming to take me away
    To the happy home with trees and flowers and chirping birds
    And basket weavers who sit and smile and twiddle their thumbs and toes
    And they're coming to take me away ha haaa!

Comments: 38

  • George from Vancouver, CanadaClassic!
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn May 15th 1817, the Asylum for the Relief of Persons Deprived of the Use of Their Reason opened in Philadelphia; it was America's first private mental health hospital...
    Later the name was changed to the Frankford Asylum and today it goes by the name of Friends Hospital...
    And just over 149 years later on July 17th, 1966 Napoleon the XIV's "They're Coming to Take Me Away, Ha-Haaa!" entered Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart at position #50...
    {See next post below}.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn July 17th 1966, "They're Coming To Take Me Away, Ha-Haa!" by Napoleon XIV entered Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart at position #50; and on August 7th, 1966 it peaked at #3 (for 1 week) and spent only 6 weeks on the Top 100...
    Its 6 week run on the Top 100 started at #50, #11, #5, #3, #5, and #37 then the following week it was completely off the chart...
    It re-entered the Top 100 seven years later on August 26th, 1973 at position #94, it stayed on the Top 100 for 4 weeks, peaking at #87...
    In 1966 during its week at #3, the #1 record was "Summer In The City" by the Lovin' Spoonful and at #2 was "Lil' Red Riding Hood" by Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs...
    Jerry Samuels, aka Napoleon XIV, celebrated his 76th birthday two months ago on May 3rd, 2014.
  • Matthew from Toronto, OnThis was actually a much bigger hit than the 1966 record charts reflected. Billboard has it at #3, and Cashbox at #1, but with the extremely short chart run (only 6 weeks total on Billboard), it failed to place on any year-end summary charts. But that was because of diminished airplay--someone panicked & had pulled it from playlists as being offensive--not sales, which were in keeping with the big hits of the year. A crime: it was surely one of the 30 biggest hits of the year, but doesn't get the credit it deserved. A weird song, sure, but a lot of fun.
  • Aj from Chucktown, ScI love this song and quote it often. Thanx for the backstory!

    I also love 'Gonna Buy Me a Dog.' But - it was NOT Mike Nesmith singing. It was Mickey Dolenz. It was a perfect 'inside joke'; listen when Mickey sings 'but I can teach a dog to do that... I'm gonna buy me a dog' ... and bursts into laughter when Davey comments 'You couldn't teach a dog to do that. You can only train elephants'. This naturally cracks Mickey up, because in the late 50s, when he was an adorable little blonde kid named 'Corky' starring in a tv show called 'Circus Boy' he worked with (and rode on) elephants. (If you look it up on imDb, he went by the name 'Mickey Braddock.')
  • Fred from Laurel, MdAnnabelle/EugeneOR & Jim/BillericaMA -- Yes, Annabelle, they did, and, Jim, it was actually even simpler than you guessed. On reel-to-reel tape recorders (R2RTR's), even way back in the 40's/50's, when they were all monaural (1-track!, in each direction, anyway), most of the machines had more than one tape speed, and some of them had a 'reverse gear,' which I'm sure they must've had in recording studios -- all the latest and greatest, you know. So you could just play the tape in reverse, without having to re-thread it. That's the simple way to do it -- now for the more complicated way. **** By the time my dad bought one of the early consumer-market R2RTR's, a Sony, in 1960, which used 1/4-inch-wide tape, you could record in stereo in both directions on the same tape by reversing the reels, in effect giving the tape 2 'sides.' To do this, the recording heads were arranged to record on the 1st and 3rd quarters of the tape width. When the tape was turned over to record on the 'other side,' the 2nd and 4th quarters of the tape width got recorded, because they were now in the positions of the 3rd and 1st quarters, respectively. With monaural recorders, which still existed in the 60's, the single channel got recorded on the 1st HALF of the tape width. So if you recorded something on only one side of a blank tape with a stereo recorder, and reversed the reel to play it back on a mono player, only the right channel would come out, and in reverse. The left channel wouldn't come through on playback, because it would be on the wrong half of the tape. In either case (with a mono or stereo machine), if you simply recorded onto a blank tape in one direction, leaving the reverse direction blank, and turned the reels over on the same machine to reverse the direction of play of the tape, you would get, not backwards-playback, but only silence.
  • Julie from Oakland, OrRemember "Hey Mr. Custer, I don't wanna go?" Another funny song...
  • Madi from Abbotsford, BcThe band Neuroticfish did a cover of this song, but their version has more of a rythym to it.
  • Jordan from Los Angeles, CaAlso, it was unclear whether Jerry Samuels sued the Monkees for using the song "They're Coming to Take Me Away, Ha HA" without his permission or approval.
  • Jordan from Los Angeles, CaThe Monkee's song "Gonna Buy Me a Dog", from 1966, which is sung by Michael Nesmith, is being teased by Davy Jones during the fade out of the song, by saying "THEY'RE COMING TO TAKE IT AWAY, HA HA", twice.

    Also, Dave Hall, the disc jockey, dud a parody of the song, entitled "I'm Normal", featuring a similar drum beat, and featuring such lines as "I eat my peas with a tuning fork".
  • Emily from Around Chicago, Ilwe have this song on a halloween soundtrack cd.
    it creeps me out (shudders)
  • Pippin from Rhye, CaThis song is darned hilarious! Most of my friends like it (even one who generally hates songs of this variety). Technically, it is the only rap song I even tolerate (well, you could stretch it to say it's rap!). I once wrote a song called "They're Coming to Take Me Away"...except this was before I knew this one even existed. I love it. It seems to describe my own form of madness...
  • Erik from Bloomfield Hills, MiIn the backwards version of this song (Aaah-Ah, Yawa Em Ekat Ot Gnimoc Er'yeht), at 0:24 and 1:36, I'm hearing "Worst of all, you sleep with another man."
  • Billy from Brockton, MaFirst let me say I like the song. However the drum beat sounds very familiar. Earlier in 1966 Bob Dylan's Rainy Day Women had an identical drum beat. Is this a sample of that? Did both artist sample something common? Stoners think alike?
  • James from Gettysburg, Paooh, this song STILL gives me the creeps
  • Erik from Bloomfield Hills, MiThis song is even scarier sounding played backwards. When the chorus starts with the "Ha-haaaa!" part played backwards, it comes across as a horribly agonized-sounding scream.
  • Doreen from Middletown, CtThis song was about a dog?! I find the details on the making of this song just as amusing as the song itself. After 41 years we're still singing and enjoying it.
  • John from Chicago, IlI was one of the original hand-clappers / thigh slappers on the song. Our group "THE HERD" was recording a demo in studio B of Associated Recording Studios on 6th Avenue. I remember being called into Studio A where Jerry Samuels was recording this silly thing. I do remember slapping my thighs after clapping hands, but that was 40 years ago.
  • Jim from North Billerica, MaAnnabelle, From eugene, To get the A side to play backward, I would imagine all they did was to take the master tape, thread it into the machine backwards (the end ofthe tape, or the tail) into the empty real and play it forwards.
  • Dan from Clermont, FlI would want to ask Jerry a question about the hand claps, and bringing friends over to make the recording. Were your friends male or female?

    Clermont, FL.
  • Dan from Clermont, FlI knew this had to do with something more than just an imagination. I still find it to be rather interesting, but I find the backwards version to be my favorite because it was the first time I heard a song backwards, and I found to be hilarious. I had a kiddie record player with a neutral speed setting, and I would play some f my records backwards until my parents told me to stop it; I found out that "Hey Jude" played backwards in the beginning you hear "You Used Me."
  • Harlin from Atlanta, GaThis one was really funny when Sean Hannity played it on his show for Alec Baldwin (who really is a nutcase).
  • Stefanie from Rock Hill, ScThis song is so funny!! I've heard it sometimes on Oldies stations. I bet it'd be funnier hearing the bacikwards recording.
  • Mike from Germantown, MdI read that the B-side to this song was palyed on a jukebox and cleared the restaraunt of 40 patrons in two minutes flat.
  • Hayley from Worcester, MaThe bit about "you laughed" could still refer to a dog if you want to interpret it as a dog, because he gets rather hysterical about having heard whoever he's addressing laugh at him. It might be an extension of the stuff about being insane, because he thinks his dog laughed at him. It could be talking to a dog or a person. But, then again, the guy who recorded it just says it's a joke. He means it either way- it could be to an exasperating dog or an exasperating human, but it began with a human being in mind and then he changed it so it could be either way.
  • Annabelle from Eugene, OrHow did they record the B-side of the single? Did they have machines in those days that could record and play music backwards?
  • Dale from Memphis, TnI bought the 45 shortly after it was released in
    the summer of '66. Side B not only is the same tune played backwards, but the entire label is pressed onto the vinyl backwards, including the Warner Brothers logo! Wish I still had that
    original, but I have the song on a Dr. Dimento collection so that will have to do. I had no idea the amount of effort poured into the production, and I appreciate it deeply!
  • Richard from Blackpool, EnglandProbably it was Warner Brothers who thought of the dog explanation but never bothered explaining how a dog could laugh!
  • Ekristheh from Halath, United StatesThe B-52's "Quiche Lorraine" is a takeoff/ tribute to this masterpiece. The dead giveaway is at the end as Schneider snaps "You mangy mutt!"
  • Andrew from Foothill Ranch, CaAlso, the song Samuels refers to in the above recollections is not "I Owe a Lot to Iowa Pond" -- it's "I Owe a Lot to Iowa Pot". Another great Dr. Demento hit.
  • Andrew from Foothill Ranch, CaI still have the 45 of this masterpiece and remember that it was included inside my Mad Magazine (which my older brother subscribed to) back in 1966. I was ten years old and all my friends memorized the lyrics and would drive our parents crazy reciting them over and over and over. (ha ha!)
  • Ydur from Knoxville, TnThe dog interpretation may be based on the cover artwork. It shows Napolean holding a stiff, unoccupied dog leash. Perhaps the dog is invisible. I have an invisible dog... her name is Maris.
  • Dee from Indianapolis, InThis was a classic staple on the Dr. Demento show which I listened to on Sunday nights while growing up. Gotta enjoy these types of crazy tunes.
  • Zeb from Cologne, GermanyThe definite version of this song was created by Lard, the genius collaboration of Dead Kennedy´s Jello Biafra and Ministry-members.It increases the madness from "sick joke" to "no more sickness possible"...
    great nightmarish ride!
    check it out!
  • Krystle from Valpo, InI like this song only because it's funny. It was on a halloween CD my mom got last year and my cousin and I always laugh over that song because we both agree it sort of describes our coookiness (I have no clue how to spell that.)
  • Ira from Milford, CtI've always taken the 'I cooked your food, I cleaned your house' etc. as a person talking to a runaway dog. I've been known to utter similar lines of exasperation when I come home and have to clean up after a dog...
    And a mangy mutt, c'mon, of course it's his dog.
  • Keith from Slc, UtAre you SURE it's about a dog? Dogs don't laugh (as described in the song). The reference to "you mangy mutt" repeats a common insult of the time. The lyrics seem to indicate that it was a person who left.
  • Fred from Summit, NeJerry Samuels, as already stated, did it as a tribute to a lost dog. However, it all began nearly ten years earlier when Jerry recorded a song, as Jerry Samuels, called "Puppy Love" for Vik Records.
see more comments

Editor's Picks

Psychedelic LyricsMusic Quiz

Whoa man! Do you know which band came up with these cosmic lyrics?

Steely DanFact or Fiction

Did they really trade their guitarist to The Doobie Brothers? Are they named after something naughty? And what's up with the band name?

Steve Morse of Deep PurpleSongwriter Interviews

Deep Purple's guitarist since 1994, Steve talks about writing songs with the band and how he puts his own spin on "Smoke On The Water."

TV Theme SongsFact or Fiction

Was a Beatles song a TV theme? And who came up with those Fresh Prince and Sopranos songs?

Sarah BrightmanSongwriter Interviews

One of the most popular classical vocalists in the land is lining up a trip to space, which is the inspiration for many of her songs.

Steven Tyler of AerosmithSongwriter Interviews

Tyler talks about his true love: songwriting. How he identifies the beauty in a melody and turns sorrow into art.