Hard to believe that Steve Goodman has been gone 30 years today. Leukemia.
Wasn’t it just yesterday that we met at the merch table after a show in Madison, Wisconsin? When he autographed my record to Joe, and not to Jeff? I still smile at that.
No, it’s been 31 years since he opened for fellow folk singer Leo Kottke at the old Madison Civic Center, a show I remember nothing about.
Kinda wondering what people remember of Steve Goodman today.
Probably most know him for the songs he wrote about his beloved Chicago Cubs. If you’ve visited here during the Christmas season, you know his charming live version of “Winter Wonderland” is one of our seasonal faves.
“It’s kind of absurd/when you don’t know the words/to sing/
walkin’ in a winter wonderland!”
I probably was introduced to Steve Goodman’s music in 1976 or 1977 by my friend Pat Houlihan, a folk singer from central Wisconsin who also introduced me to the music of John Prine, who was Goodman’s friend. I liked Goodman and Prine for the same reason. There’s a lot of humor in real life. They saw that, and wrote songs accordingly.
So let’s listen to some Steve Goodman. He wrote or co-wrote all but one song.
“Men Who Love Women Who Love Men,” an irreverent but perceptive take on sexual identity.
“The One That Got Away,” a duet with Nicolette Larson on a song wistfully remembering life’s missed opportunities.
Both from “High And Outside,” Steve Goodman, 1979. His second-to-last major-label record, on Asylum. Goodman produced it, but the arrangements are almost too lush, too rich for his sometimes-thin voice.
“You Never Even Called Me By My Name,” a country music spoof co-written with John Prine, and a hit for David Allan Coe. Goodman improvised the final verse to include references to Mama, trains, trucks, prison and getting drunk, which Coe thought every great country song needs.
“City Of New Orleans,” which really launched Goodman’s career when it became a hit for Arlo Guthrie in 1972.
Both from “Artistic Hair,” Steve Goodman, 1983. A wonderful collection of live performances from over a 10-year period. I’m generally not big on live records, but this is really the only way to get the essence of Steve Goodman.
“Souvenirs,” a duet with John Prine on the familiar song written by Prine and first heard on Prine’s second LP, “Diamonds In The Rough,” from 1972.
“Talk Backwards,” a goofy take full of double-speak.
Thanks to Clay Eals, Goodman’s biographer, for the 30-year reminder.
Please visit our companion blog, The Midnight Tracker, for more vintage vinyl, one side at a time.