Ain't It Crazy (The Rub)

Lyrics: Lightnin' Hopkins
Music: Lightnin' Hopkins

This was played by the Grateful Dead a dozen times in 1970 and 1971, and before that in 1964 by Mother McCree's Uptown Jug Champions before the Dead proper were formed.

It seems clear that the Dead knew this song as "The Rub". In July 1964, for example, Weir introduces it by saying that Mr Pigpen McKernan is going to sing a Lightnin' Hopkins song - The Rub. But Lightnin' Hopkins recordings have it under the title "Ain't It Crazy", "Mighty Crazy" or "The Crazy Song."

The lyrics below are from 28 April 1971.

Mama got the rub board, sister got the tub
They're going round doing the rub-de-rub
Ain't it crazy, ain't it crazy
Ain't it crazy one day, to keep on rubbin' that thing

Two old maids, they was layin' in a bed
One turned over and this is what she said
Ain't it crazy, ain't it crazy
Ain't it crazy one day, to keep on rubbin' that thing

Yeah mama killed a chicken, thought it was a duck
Put him on the table with his feet sticking up
[Alternative: ... with his feet turned up]
Ain't it crazy, ain't it crazy
Ain't it crazy one day, to keep on rubbin' that thing

There was two old maids, layin' in the sand
Each one wonderin' if the other was a man
[Alternative: Each one wishing that the other was a man]
Ain't it crazy, ain't it crazy
Ain't it crazy one day, to keep on rubbin' at that thing

[repeat all verses]
The version played by Mother McCree's Uptown Jug Champions at The Tangent, Palo Alto in July 1964 contains the following additional verses (that Pigpen may also have sung with the Dead, though not on tapes I have):
I tell you little old rooster told the little old hen
Said, "Ive had no lovin since God knows when"
Ain't it crazy, ain't it crazy
Ain't it crazy one day keep on rubbin' that thing

Well I see that woman goin' behind the hill
I'm gonna find that girl, I'm gonna do my will
Ain't it crazy, ain't it crazy
Ain't it crazy one day keep on rubbin' that thing

Well it feels so good, and it feels so fine
All I gotta do is drink that wine
Ain't it crazy, ain't it crazy
Ain't it crazy one day keep on rubbin' that thing
Grateful Dead and Related Recordings
     Date Album
     Jul 1964 Mother Mcree's Uptown Jug Champions
     18 Apr 1970 Family Dog at the Great Highway
     15 May 1970 Road Trips Vol 3 No 3 (early show)
     28 Apr 1971 Ladies And Gentlemen ... The Grateful Dead

Roots
The various Lightin' Hopkins versions have all sorts of other verses, illustrating that he improvised his songs around a core without having a fixed set of lyrics. Indeed, though he he is usually credited with writing the song, he is said to have based it on an earlier song called "Rubbing On That Darned Old Thing (Rub That Thing)" See below .

This is a Lightnin' Hopkins' version titled "The Crazy Song" from an un-dated performance:
Now listen here folks, I'm gonna sing a little song
I'm gonna sing it a while, ain't gonna sing it long
It's mighty crazy, mighty crazy
You know it's crazy
To keep on rubbing at that ... same old thing

The old rooster cackled and the hen layed an egg
Had lots of fun laying in the shed
Wasn't it crazy, wasn't it crazy
You know it's crazy
To keep on rubbing at that ... same old thing

Yes it's mighty crazy

Two old maids was laying in a bed
One turned over, this is what she said
Ain't it crazy, ain't it crazy
You know it's crazy
To keep on rubbing at that ...

Mama sleep [?] with a stick in her hand
She woke up saying I'm doing just the best I can
Ain't she crazy, ain't it crazy
You know it's crazy
To keep on rubbing at that ...

Mama told papa I'm getting tired on your snoring [?sawing]
He said I'm getting that tired of my own mother-in-law
Ain't it crazy, ain't it crazy
To keep on rubbing at that ...
This is a Lightin' Hopkins performance from 1960, titled "The Crazy Song":
It's mighty crazy, it's mighty crazy
It's mighty crazy, it's mighty crazy
You know it's crazy
To keep on rubbing at that ...

Sister got the rub board, Mama got the tub
They're going around doing the rub-de-rub
Ain't it crazy, ain't it crazy
You know it's crazy
To keep on rubbing at that ...

[??] Monday going, take a little [totty]
They're taking in washing for each and everybody
Ain't it crazy, ain't it crazy
You know it's crazy
To keep on rubbing at that ...

[??] Monday going, take a little drink
Bottle up [the toes] and break over to the tank
Ain't it crazy, ain't it crazy
You know it's crazy
To keep on rubbing at that ...

Sister got the rub board, mama got the tub
They're going around doing the rub-de-rub
Ain't it crazy, now ain't it crazy
You know it's crazy
To keep on rubbing at that ... same old thing

[rap]

My sister went to turn it out, tub-de-tub
Old mama didn't have a chance to rub
Wasn't it crazy, now wasn't it crazy
You know it's crazy
To keep on rubbing at that ...

[more rap]

Sister had the rub board, mama had the rub
They're going around doing the rub-de-rub
Yeah, yeah
You know it's crazy
To keep on rubbing at that ...
The song on which Lightin' Hopkins is supposed to have based this is "Rubbing On That Darned Old Thing (Rub That Thing)" by Lovin' Sam Theard, recorded in 1934:
My gal bought me washboard and a tub
I put my shirt on the board and I started to rub
I start rubbing, rubbing on that darned old thing

Then I start rubbing up and down
She said rub it round and round
I start rubbing, rubbing on that darned old thing

We took a walk out in the park
And I start rubbing it in the dark
I start rubbing, rubbing on that darned old thing

She said your rubbing fits me to a T
I said your old washboard's all right with me
I start rubbing, rubbing on that darned old thing

She said rub that thing all you dare
You might stretch it but it won't tear
I start rubbing, rubbing on that darned old thing

She said hot pop I'll give you all my pay
If you do my loving every day
I start rubbing, rubbing on that darned old thing

She said daddy, tie this tight
I said give me fifty cents and I'll rub it all night
I start rubbing, rubbing on that darned old thing

Now my girl's dressed in green
Got good boogie-woogie but she won't keep it clean
I start washing, washing on that darned old thing


Futher Information
For an online discussion of the lyrics to this song see the deadsongs.vue conference on The Well.
For more information on recordings see Matt Schofield's Grateful Dead Family Discography
For online chords and TAB see www.rukind.com

 


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