"Rats on the CTA." The best song Barbie Army never recorded.

I got a one dollar wallet with a phone book in it. Fashion barrettes, and ladies hosiery. Tops, sunglasses, answers to the driver's test. Study Bibles, and plastic rosaries. Love on the train. Blood on the train. Sleeping drunks with dictionaries...

"Rats on the CTA." The best song Barbie Army never recorded.
Typical rats of the CTA circa 1987.

It was around 1987. Our friend Jordan Wankoff (later to become the world-famous composer of the midwestern fiddle-player's standard, "Tippin' Back the Corn") was sitting around with Jean one day, and they wrote this little song.

It is about the millions of folks, and especially the car-less young people, who ride on the Chicago Transportation Authority's public transportation system – the "L" train, and the hundreds of buses that feed it, night and day. In those days, there were always people selling useful little items on the train. They would walk up and down the aisles, calling, "I got a one-dollar wallet with a phone book in it! Fashion barrettes! Ladies hosiery! Answers to the driver's test!"

We, and everyone we knew, were rats on the C.T.A.  The system ran 24/7, but after midnight, it was a looooong haul, especially when you were carrying guitars, amps, and a drum set, and you had been paid with free beer. This song is about those days, and the cool landmarks that we passed, and the stuff that people were selling, and how much we wished we had a car.

We never got around to recording it, but a few years ago I was trying to learn Garageband on my IPhone, so I made this one-person version. Then I combined it with genuine 1980s photos of the places that are mentioned. This is dedicated to all the rats on all subway systems everywhere. CTA. Enjoy!