If I Only Had a Brain

Originally Performed ByRay Bolger (as “The Scarecrow”)
Original AlbumWizard of Oz soundtrack (1938)
MusicHarold Arlen
Lyrics ByE. “Yip” Harburg
Phish Debut1989-03-12
Last Played1995-11-16
Current Gap869
HistorianEllis Godard (lemuria)
Last Update2016-03-07


(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.”

”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. 

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

Submit notes/corrections


Phish.net is a non-commercial project run by Phish fans and for Phish fans under the auspices of the all-volunteer, non-profit Mockingbird Foundation.

This project serves to compile, preserve, and protect encyclopedic information about Phish and their music.

Credits | Terms Of Use | Legal

© 1990-2019  The Mockingbird Foundation, Inc. | Hosted by End Point Corporation