As I roam the streets of Chi Town and get myself re-acquainted with the city I left way too soon after graduating; I keep thinking of music that reminds me of Chicago.
I already did Chicago the band last week, as well as James Cotton yesterday and today this one just hit me. Not quite as hard as the incredible humidity and heat, but pretty hard.
Steve Goodman – Affordable Art
I remember being aware of Steve Goodman as a young kid… Around the same time I became aware of David Bromberg… They are both classic singer/songwriters in that witty, folk music vein, but I am not quite sure where either came from. I mean at least to me. I had a hippie type baby sitter who used to play me James Taylor on her guitar and I am thinking they came from her, but I am not really sure.
Steve Goodman did not even make it to 40. He died of leukemia in 1984. It is one of those stories that makes me sad, especially considering how brave he was and how much humor he had about dying… “A Dying Cub Fan’s Last Request” is a great example of this humor, although it is not about him dying or being a Cubs fan. It’s just about how bad the Cubs stink. When Cubs’ general manager Dallas Green said the song was too depressing, Goodman wrote “Go Cubs, Go” which is still played quite often after a Cubs victory… Sadly, it is not played often enough!
I had a bunch of his albums, but I think my interest was really re-sparked after hearing the amazing tribute album, Tribute to Steve Goodman. It features John Prine, Bonnie Raitt, Arlo Guthrie, Richie Havens, Bromberg and others. I always liked him, but I think I missed the depth of his work til after his death. I really wish I had rediscovered him sooner. But that’s life, ain’t it?
This one has both new songs and old songs and is the last album released during his lifetime. It starts with the beautiful instrumental “If Jethro Were Here” (he was a hell of a musician and guitar player), moves into the live version of the hysterical “Vegematic” and continues with gem after gem. The duet with John Prine on his song “Souvenirs” kills me, and almost always brings me to tears… Yes, right now!
Two of his best known songs (not on this album) were hits for others… Arlo Guthie did well by “City of New Orleans” and David Alan Coe struck the charts with “You Never Even Called Me By My Name” (co-written with John Prine).
This kind of says it all… From Wikipedia…
“Four days after Goodman’s death, the Chicago Cubs clinched the Eastern Division title in the National League for the first time ever, earning them their first post-season appearance since 1945, three years before Goodman’s birth. Eight days later, on October 2, the Cubs played their first post-season game since the 1945 World Series. Goodman had been asked to sing “The Star-Spangled Banner” before it; Jimmy Buffett filled in, and dedicated the song to Goodman.
In April 1988, some of Goodman’s ashes were scattered at Wrigley Field, the home of the Chicago Cubs. He was survived by his wife and three daughters.”
How I love Chicago… let me listen to the ways. Thanks, Steve!