A Viking Twang birthday tribute to the great Steve Goodman
Written by Randy Black on July 26, 2016
Viking Twang Episode 95 7-27-2016
Good morning, welcome to Viking Twang Episode 95. My name is Randy Black, nice to see you.
I often use this phrase when describing my favorite musicians: “If you know who they are, they’re a big star.” That’s certainly true for the Chicago singer-songwriter Steve Goodman, born 68 years ago Monday; we lost him to leukemia in 1984.
You know him best for the Arlo Guthrie version of his great song, City of New Orleans. But he had many more amazing songs than that, including the tribute to his hometown team, The Dying Cub Fan’s Last Request, and my favorite version of Take Me Out To The Ballgame, with Jethro Burns on mandolin.
To celebrate his birthday, we’re going to play most of a 1978 show at the Chicago club where he got his start, the Earl of Old Town. I first saw him about this time with Jethro in a tiny Huntington Beach club called the Golden Bear. I also saw him open for John Prine just after I moved back to Portland in 1981. We’ll start the show with a song that proves that crime really does pay:
1 – Turkey Red, W.C. Beck & the Portland Country Underground.
2 – Lincoln Park Pirates; he recorded that on his1972 debut album, Someone Else’s Troubles.
3 – Red Red Robin; A song that dates back to Harry Woods in 1926.
4 – Three Legged Man; Co-written by Shel Silverstein, from the last album released in his lifetime, 1983’s Artistic Hair.
5 – Grand Canyon.
Steve was diagnosed with leukemia in the late 60s and essentially lived the rest of his life as if he was on borrowed time. His wife, Nancy, wrote this for his posthumous collection, No Big Surprise:
“Basically, Steve was exactly who he appeared to be: an ambitious, well-adjusted man from a loving, middle-class Jewish home in the Chicago suburbs, whose life and talent were directed by the physical pain and time constraints of a fatal disease which he kept at bay, at times, seemingly by willpower alone . . . Steve wanted to live as normal a life as possible, only he had to live it as fast as he could . . . He extracted meaning from the mundane.”
We’ll start our second set with a song from 1979’s High and Outside that’s topical today:
6 –Men Who Love Women Who Love Men; from his 1979 album, High and Outside.
7 – What Have You Done For Me Lately?
8 –I Gotta Hand It To You; a song for his wife Nancy, also from High and Outside.
9 –The Auctioneer; the 1956 hit by Leroy Van Dyke.
10 – City of New Orleans; Steve recorded it on his 1971 debut album, but Arlo Guthrie’s 1972 version became a huge hit. Steve won a posthumous Grammy Award for Willie Nelson’s 1984 recording.
If you’d like to know more, check out my old friend Clay Eals’ book Facing the Music at http://www.clayeals.com/. We’ll take it out with another song from Artistic Hair, which could also describe this entire show:
11 – Let’s Give A Party.
12 – Rockin’ Robin; Bobby Day’s 1958 hit written by Leon Rene.
13 – When The Cubs Go Marching In; In addition to this and Dying Cub Fans, he also wrote the official Chicago Cubs fight song, “Go Cubs Go.” Sadly, he passed away after a long battle with leukemia in September, 1984.
14 – Old Smoothies; A song about his grandparents, also from Artistic Hair.
15 – Twang Theme; The Countrypolitans.