Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Boston Charlie

Back to Boston Charlie. There are some anecdotal theories regarding the origin and meaning of Kelly's lyrics to Deck Us All with Boston Charlie. The ones involving coded messages to prisons or such are pretty outrageous, and may or may not have credence. I do know that Kelly loved to create nonsense, and nonsense is what this song is all about.

Let's take a look at the 'official' version of Boston Charlie, as seen in Songs of the Pogo. The text piece is Kelly's first take on the song's 'origins'. He had other takes, as we will see in the next few posts.


  1. Was there ever a recording of Boston Charlie? I remember being somewhat surprised when it wasn't on the "Songs of the Pogo" album once I finally got a copy.

  2. Yes, there was a recording, with Walt Kelly himself singing it. You can hear a quick snippet of it by going to


    and downloading the interview with Walt Kelly's daughter. If you play the interview with the time marker counting down, then the snippet runs from 24:33 to 24:14. So it's only 19 seconds, but it let's you know that it exists. Finding the whole song could take some research, but it's out there.

    The interview with Carolyn Kelly is worth listening to all the way through.

  3. I love the faux/pseudo 'intellectual' foot-notes in the text piece. Very clever.

  4. And he satirizes not only pseudo-intellectual footnotes, but footnotes themselves with a dizzying array of markers and a footnote to a footnote. I don't know how many others would find this to be a sign of the man's genius, but I sure do.

  5. There was a professional recording of "Boston Charlie" and you can hear it on my blog post from a few years ago: