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If I Only Had a Brain

If I Only Had a Brain has not been seen in 1005 Phish shows.
It was last played: 1995-11-16.
It was played at 2.04% of live shows.
It has been performed live 41 time(s).

Music: Harold Arlen

Lyrics: E. “Yip” Harburg

Original Artist: Ray Bolger (as “The Scarecrow”)

Original Album: Wizard of Oz soundtrack (1938)

Vocals: Fish

Debut: 1989-03-12

Historian: Ellis Godard (lemuria)

(This history is singable to the tune, as alternative lyrics.)

In the Harburg/Arlen story ’bout midgets and Oz’s glory, it’s a much beloved refrain. But when it features vacuum, it’s such a flatulent tune, and it always sounds the same. I could while away the hours ‘bout versions to devour, and tapes you should obtain. And a list I could be startin’, but Phish is oft just fartin’ “If I Only had a Brain.”

Watch If I Only Had a Brain on YouTube ”If I Only Had a Brain” – The Wizard of Oz

Oh, I could tell you why, the Scarecrow sings and cries. I could tell you things the lyrics mean to me – but, please, it’s Fishman being quite silly (singing “Minkin” instead of “Lincoln”). And he often gets the words wrong (e.g. 4/14/89, 5/4/90, and 10/25/94), like Trey with that “Lizards” song, so the vacuum’s good to hear. But there are other acts who have played it with more tact, such as Harry Connick, Jr.

It would be a lot of nothin’, a headache full of fluffin’, overblown for this short tune, to devote much ink to versions that you could go be learnin’, so I’ll just mention these few: the 4/5/90 gets tweakin’, in the year the song was peakin’, and that New Year (12/31/90) had some heat. But another (11/16/95) deserves the big nod, before “Grace” and after “Hood,” and is one of few that’s neat. 

Watch If I Only Had a Brain on YouTube Phish, “Big Ball Jam.” ”HYHU” > “If I Only Had a Brain” – 12/29/93 – New Haven, CT


(Arlen, Harburg)
© EMI Feist Catalog Inc. (ASCAP)

I could wile away the hours
Conferrin' with the flowers
Consultin' with the rain
And my head I'd be scratchin'
While my thoughts were busy hatchin'
If I only had a brain

I'd unravel any riddle
For any individ'le
In trouble or in pain

With the thoughts you'd be thinkin'
You could be another Lincoln
If you only had a brain

Oh, I would tell you why
The ocean's near the shore
I could think of things I never thunk before
And then I'd sit and think some more

I would not be just a nuffin'
My head all full of stuffin'
My heart all full of pain
I would dance and be merry
Life would be a ding-a-derry
If I only had a brain

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