THE NEXT TIME SOMEONE CALLS YOU mechanical, rigid, and predictable, tell them the story of Mackey “The Machine” MacDonald, considered by some to be among the most prolific creative forces of the nineteenth century.
Though we now know him for his super-human productivity, his picture was once used in Webster’s Dictionary to illustrate those very words: mechanical, rigid, and predictable. And if ever a person might seem out of place among the colorful figures immortalized in the Pioneers of Creativity, it would be he.
The irony of it all is that, as a child, Mackey knew nothing but spontaneity.
The son of gypsy used-car salesmen–both with ADHD–who traveled with a circus and drank way too much coffee, he resented the banana sandwiches, funny-paper pants, and other surprises his parents foisted upon him on a regular basis.
And while most children would have considered his way of life a constant source of amusement, he found it maddening.
So Mackey sought refuge from the chaos wherever he could find it.
One of his favorite spots was under the hood of the idling circus trucks, where he would huddle for hours and, to the steady beat of their internal combustion engines, write poetry in iambic pentameter. Only one day he got his head caught in a fan belt and, well, you see the results.
Although the circus immediately offered him a lifetime contract in the side-show, Mackey interpreted the incident as a sign he was intended for a different path, and jumped at the opportunity to escape the bedlam. He struck out on his own in search of other opportunities, and subsequently found the stability he so craved as a freelance copywriter for a chain of retail stores that sold Christmas decorations.
Admittedly, it was not the most consistent line of work around, but compared to the world he came from, Mackey considered it nirvana. The compressed work schedule honed his speed and efficiency as a wordsmith, and he took advantage of the off-season to pen song lyrics. True to his nature, they were repetitive and predictable, but that also made them easy to memorize and broad in their appeal.
And that brings us to his place among our pantheon of creative thinkers.
For it was none other than Mackey “The Machine” MacDonald who will go down in history for writing lyrics to some of our most droning and hypnotic ditties, including The Alphabet Song and Old MacDonald Had A Farm, as well as several verses that would one day be immortalized in the soundtrack of The Sound of Music.
Can one be too reliable? Too predictable and boring? Perhaps, but not if that predictable and boring reliability still results in something of value to someone, like potato chips, reality tv, or the creative output of Mackey “The Machine” MacDonald.
THE “PIONEERS OF CREATIVITY” ARE THE OFTEN MISUNDERSTOOD HEROES OF ADVERTISING & MARKETING, PRESENTED HERE TO REMIND US THAT BOTH BEAUTY AND BUPKIS ARE ONLY IN THE EYE OF THE BEHOLDER.