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The MTA Song

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"The MTA"
 
Sung by The Kingston Trio*
Words and Music by Bess Hawes and Jacqueline Steiner
Footnotes by Joel Whitburn, Bob Pfeffer, and Will Holt

POPULARITY
First Charted on Billboard June 29th 1959. 
Top position #15. Remained on Billboard Charts for 6 weeks.
 
 
 
VOICE SPOKEN SERIOUSLY OVER A SOLOMN CELLO BACKGROUND...
 
"These are the times that try men's souls... In the course of our nation's history the people of Boston have rallied bravely whenever the rights of men have been threatened... Today, a new crisis has arisen...
The Metropolitan Transit Authority, better known as the MTA, is attempting to levy
a burdensome tax on the population in the form of a subway fare increase... 
Citizens, hear me out... This could happen to you!"
 
CLASSIC KINGSTON TRIO RUNNING BANJO PICKUP TO... 

Well, let me tell you of the story of a man named Charlie
On a tragic and fateful day...
He put ten cents in his pocket, kissed his wife and family
Went to ride on the MTA.

Well did he ever return, no he never returned
And his fate is still unlearned (what a pity)...
He may ride forever 'neath the streets of Boston
He's the man who never returned.

Charlie handed in his dime at the Kendall Square station
And he changed for Jamaica Plain...
When he got there, the conductor told him "one more nickel"
Charlie couldn't get off of that train.

But did he ever return, no he never returned
And his fate is still unlearned (poor old Charlie)...
He may ride forever 'neath the streets of Boston
He's the man who never returned.

Now all night long Charlie rides through the station
Crying "what will become of me?"
"How can I afford to see my sister in Chelsea?"
"Or my cousin in Roxbury?"

But did he ever return, no he never returned
And his fate is still unlearned (shame and scandal)...
He may ride forever 'neath the streets of Boston
He's the man who never returned.

Charlie's wife goes down to the Scollay Square station
Every day at quarter past two...
And through the open window she hands Charlie a sandwich
As the train comes rumblin' through.

Well did he ever return, no he never returned
And his fate is still unlearned (he may ride forever)...
He may ride forever 'neath the streets of Boston
He's the man who never returned (pick it, Davey).

 BRIEF BANJO INTERLUDE
SPOKEN: Oh, that hurts my fingers.

Now you citizens of Boston dontcha think it's a scandal
How the people have to pay and pay...
Fight the fare increase, vote for *George* O'Brian!!
Get poor Charlie off the MTA!

Or else he'll never return, no he'll never return
And his fate is still unlearned (just like always)...
He may ride forever 'neath the streets of Boston
He's the man who never returned...
He's the man who never returned...
He's the man who never returned!!!
 
 
 
FOOTNOTES
 
TRANSCRIPTION: Robin Hood 
 
SOURCE: Bob Pfeffer.  SOURCE'S SOURCE: Will Holt...
The MTA was "written by Jacqueline Berman (now Steiner) and Bess Hawes as a campaign song for Walter A. O'Brian, the Progressive Party candidate in Boston's mayoral election. When Will Holt recorded the number as a pop song for Coral, the record company was astounded by a deluge of protests from Boston because the  song made a hero out of a local "radical."  The record was hastily withdrawn an a new version recorded which eliminated O'Brien's claim to musical fame. In the later Kingston Trio release, Walter A. was changed to George to avoid advertising Commies on the air."  JDS Note: Today, this name is often not used at all, with "oh, what's his name" being substituted.
 
SOURCE: Joel Whitburn from his "The Billboard  Book of Top 40 Hits"...
"The MTA ( Metropolitan Transit Authority) was written as a protest song in 1948.  The melody is based on the traditional folk song "The Wreck of the Old 97."   
 
ABOUT THE KINGSTON TRIO:  SOURCE: Also Whitburn
"Folk trio formed in San Francisco in 1957:  Dave Guard (banjo), Bob Shane and Nick Reynold (acoustic guitars).  Five of the The Trio's first six albums hit #1 for a total of 46 weeks.  Their big break came at San Francisco's Purple Onion, where the group stayed for eight months.  Guard left in 1961 to form the Whiskeyville Singers:  John Stewart replaced him.  Disbanded in 1968; Shane formed the New Kingston Trio.  Guard died of lymphoma on 3/22/91 (age 56)...  Originators of the folk music craze of the 1960s. 
 
SOURCE : Kingston Trio Official Website   KINGSTON TRIO OFFICAL WEBSITE
"In 1957 The Kingston Trio emerged from San Francisco's North Beach club scene to take the country by storm, bringing the rich tradition of American folk music into the mainstream for the first time. During the late 50s & early 60s, the Trio enjoyed unprecedented record sales and worldwide fame, while influencing the musical tastes of a generation."

"Through changing times, the Trio has played on, remaining popular for a simple reason... great songs that sound as good today as the first time you heard them. Over forty years after Tom Dooley shot to the top of the charts, the Trio is still on the road thirty weeks out of the year, bringing back all the great memories and making new ones." 
KINGSTON TRIO TOUR SCHEDULE
 
 
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