Lost Classics! Steve Goodman
Our hometown heroes the Houston Astros shut down the wild Wrigley Field crowds the past three days and possibly hastened the Chicago Cubs’ inevitable free fall. Whenever I see the Cubs my mind always produces a flash of singer Steve Goodman.
Goodman was a singer-songwriter of the 1970s, he was a familiar face to anyone who watched TV shows like “The Midnight Special” or “In Concert” (late-night ABC) or “Don Kirschner’s Rock Concert.” Goodman was playing in Chicago in 1971 when he encountered Arlo Guthrie and forced Guthrie to listen to a song he’d written. “City of New Orleans” was the song, and it went on to become a huge hit for Guthrie in 1972; later it would be covered by many others including Johnny Cash, John Denver, Judy Collins and Willie Nelson.
Goodman was also good friends with singer/songwriter John Prine, and the two concocted a song, “You Never Even Called Me By My Name,” which later became a hit for country singer David Allan Coe. Prine didn’t want to get a writer’s credit, in order to help his friend’s recording career. Goodman’s records were well-received but none were giant hits. He put out about 10 studio albums in his short career.
And of course because he was a Chicago native, Goodman was a huge Cubs fan. His “Go Cubs Go” song is still played at Wrigley Field after the team wins (not lately). For most of his life, Goodman battled leukemia and the disease finally claimed him in 1984, when he died at age 36. It’s kind of mystifying (and a bit sad) that this great, unjustly forgotten singer and songwriter is mainly remembered today in conjunction with the Cubs; even to this Astros fan, Steve Goodman will always be a winner.
YouTube: “A Dying Cub Fan’s Last Request”