Sunday, March 26, 2006

Overheard in Brookline

At dinner last night, I heard the following:

Diner 1: "I can't believe you haven't ever heard that song, 'Charlie on the M.T.A.'"

Diner 2: "No, I haven't."

Diner 1: "I just can't believe it. It's by ... it's by..."

Diner 3: "The Kingston Trio."

Diner 1: "Right! Right! The Kingston Trio. [to Diner 2] I can't believe you've never heard of it. You live in Boston."

Diner 2: "What's the MTA? What does that have to do with Boston? Isn't that something in New York?" [Author's note: MTA is indeed the name of the New York Transit Authority.]

Diner 1: "It's the old name for the MBTA, when it was just the Metropolitan Transit Authority. I can't believe you've never heard 'Charlie on the MTA.'"

They got up and left, the conversation still ongoing. I only wish they hadn't been sitting behind me so I could have seen the looks on each person's face--a range of disbelief, defensiveness, and a touch of derision. Apparently if you move to Boston, you must be well-versed in nearly 50-year-old folk songs. I hope the Chamber of Commerce is paying attention.


Anonymous Russell Woolard said...

My wife could have helped them out. She was raised on the Kingston Trio and can sing "Charlie on the MTA" from memory - and will sometimes break out into it when we're on long car trips, just to make sure I'm awake.

Once, I tried to join in, but my singing voice jumped out the car window. It never returned, and its fate is still unlearned.

6:43 PM  
Blogger David said...

I'd never heard the song either. But, I just read a bit about it here and listened to 30 seconds of it here.

4:52 AM  
Blogger Gary McGath said...

Now really. The Kingston Trio didn't get involved in Boston politics by writing songs; they just picked up the song. The song dates from 1948, when Walter O'Brien used the MTA fare increase, and the fact that it had to be paid on exit, as a campaign issue.

It's extremely ironic that the MBTA now calls its electronic tickets "Charlie Cards."

6:54 AM  
Blogger David said...

I'm not sure it's ironic. The card is called Charlie because of that song. I suppose with the card no one will be stuck without exit fare.

8:14 AM  

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