Friday Factory Tune: M.T.A.

By September 24, 2010Friday Factory Tune

The Washington Metro has come under a new bout of criticism following the board’s decision to end the practice of allowing riders to exit the subway platform with a deficit on their Metro “smart card.” With the new rules, if your trip puts your smart card into the red, you have to use the “add fare” machine before exiting. If you don’t have the money?

Well, you’ll never return, no you’ll never return …

The Kingston Trio, being folk singers after all, borrowed the tune from an old hillbilly song and country standard, “The Wreck of the Old 97,” an account of the famous Virginia train wreck.

Many musicologists consider Vernon Dalhart’s 1924 Edison recording of the song the first big country music hit. Dalhart was following the more traditional version from Henry Whitter.

Yep, an influential song. A very good alt-country band took their name from the tune, the Old 97s. They’re the only group we know to sing about Oppenheimer.

And to end on a positive note, the Maryland Transit Administration has just released its “Charm Card,” a smart card that riders can use on the Baltimore AND DC Metro systems. You can’t get to Spencer, Virginia with it, but it’s still a good development.

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