Song Lyric Sunday/Song of the Day: Napoleon XIV, “They’re Coming To Take Me Away, Ha-Haaa!”

I wanted to do something really different for the last Song Lyric Sunday of 2019, and since Jim came up with the prompt "crazy," I wanted to be sure that it was something that no one else would use. (Having said that, I’m sure everyone will use it.)

"They’re Coming To Take Me Away, Ha-Haaa!" is a song written and performed by Jerry Samuels, using the pseudonym Napoleon XIV. At first, it appears to be a song about a man experiencing severe mental anguish over the end of a relationship, but we learn in the last verse that it’s his dog that’s run away and has driven him to distraction. "Napoleon XIV" refers to the stereotype of a man experiencing a nervous breakdown and believing that he’s Napoleon Bonaparte.

Granted, it’s not nice to make fun of people who have nervous breakdowns. Two radio stations (WABC and WMCA, both in New York) stopped playing it after receiving numerous complaints from mental health professionals, and the BBC flat out refused to play it. Nevertheless, the song did quite well, going to #3 on the Hot 100, #1 on the Cash Box Top 100, #2 on the Canadian RPM Top Singles chart, and #4 in the UK in 1966.

The lyrics, courtesy of Genius.com:

Remember when you ran away
And I got on my knees
And begged you not to leave
Because I’d go berserk
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-ha
They’re coming to take me away ho ho hee hee ha ha
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 ha

You thought it was a joke
And so you laughed
You laughed when I had 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 ha
They’re coming to take me away ho ho hee hee ha ha
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 ha

I cooked your food
I cleaned your house
And this is how you pay me back
For all my kind unselfish, loving deeds?
Huh? 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 ha
They’re coming to take me away ho ho hee hee ha ha
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 ha!
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 ha!
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…

By the way, per Wikipedia, the "crazy" voice was achieved the same way that Ross Bagdasarian (aka David Seville) created the voices of Alvin & The Chipmunks. The flip side of the record was the song played in reverse, and the label was a mirror image of the A side’s. And yes, I had the record, as did most of my classmates (we were in 5th grade and thus found it hilarious).

That’s Song Lyric Sunday and Song of the Day for December 28, 2019.

33 thoughts on “Song Lyric Sunday/Song of the Day: Napoleon XIV, “They’re Coming To Take Me Away, Ha-Haaa!”

  1. I hoped this song would come up today. Introduced to us at recess by my friend Julie who heard it before any of us did. We didnโ€™t believe her about the lyrics at first.

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  2. This seems oddly perfect for after Christmas but before the New Year.. I vaguely recall this song and I like it. I think people take things way too seriously nowadays and have swung the pendulum too much the other way.

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