This 1978 performance of The Kingston Trio features a wonderful medley of their most popular songs ….including “I’ve Been Doing Some Hard Travelin'”, “I Wanna Go Home”, “The Worried Man Blues” and “M.T.A.” ….which all bring back wonderful memories of music in the late 1950’s and 1960’s to anyone who grew up with the music of The Kingston Trio .
“Worried Man Blues“ is a folk song in the roots music repertoire…..which like many folk songs passed by oral tradition….while the lyrics vary from version to version….but generally all contain the chorus “It takes a worried man to sing a worried song/It takes a worried man to sing a worried song/I’m worried now, but I won’t be worried long.”….as the verses tell the story of a man imprisoned for unknown reasons “I went across the river, and I lay down to sleep/When I woke up, had shackles on my feet”….who pines for his lost love, who is “on the train and gone.” The song was recorded by Woody Guthrie in 1940….and in the years that followed by his sometime singing partners Cisco Houston, Burl Ives, Ramblin’ Jack Elliott and Pete Seeger. It was included by Seeger in his 1955 “Folksinger’s Guitar Guide” instruction record and booklet….as well as his concerts throughout the 1960’s. The Kingston Trio wrote new verses and recorded it in 1959 as “A Worried Man”…..which became hugely successful.
“M.T.A.”, often called “The MTA Song”, is a 1949 song by Jacqueline Steiner and Bess Lomax Hawes. Known informally as “Charlie on the MTA”….the song’s lyrics tell an absurd tale of a man named Charlie trapped on Boston’s subway system…..which was then known as the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA). The song was originally recorded as a mayoral campaign song for Progressive Party candidate Walter A. O’Brien….when a version of the song with the candidate’s name changed became a 1959 hit when recorded and released by The Kingston Trio…..and performed in this video herewith.