About this track
“The melody of this song is a fairly old one. The first song (as far as I know) to use this melody was “The Ship That Never Returned”, written in 1865 by Henry Clay Work. Work also wrote the more well-known song “My Grandfather’s Clock” (and there are some similarities in melody between the two). The more famous use of this melody was in “The Wreck of Old #97”.
In the 1940s, the MTA fare-schedule was very complicated - at one time, the booklet that explained it was 9 pages long. Fare increases were implemented by means of an “exit fare”. Rather than modify all the turnstiles for the new rate, they just collected the extra money when leaving the train. (Exit fares currently exist on the Braintree branch of the Red Line.) One of the key points of the platform of Walter A. O’Brien, a Progressive Party candidate for mayor of Boston, was to fight fare increases and make the fare schedule more uniform. Charlie was born.
The text of the song was written in 1949 by Jacqueline Steiner and Bess Lomax Hawes. It was one of seven songs written for O’Brien’s campaign, each one emphasized a key point of his platform. One recording was made of each song, and they were broadcast from a sound truck that drove around the streets of Boston. This earned O’Brien a $10 fine for disturbing the peace.
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