Today would have been the 64th birthday of the Chicago singer and songwriter Steve Goodman. Not that we need a reason to spend some time listening to him, but any excuse is good enough to detour into the Goodman archive.
Steve Goodman was born in 1948 and only made it to age 36, but what an amazing accomplishment that was when you consider that he was diagnosed with leukemia at age 20 and fought through the illness and fatigue to make such a lasting impression. It could not have been easy to project the kind of energy and enthusiasm he did through all the pain and discomfort that comes with the disease.
He did it with his pen, writing a song that by now has been in the world longer than he ever was – “The City of New Orleans.” It will still be here after all of us are gone.
Steve Goodman also amazed with his abilities as an interpreter. This is his version of Michael Smith’s song “The Dutchman.” It’s also a treat to watch for the clearly loving and respectful interplay with the great Jethro Burns.
And Steve Goodman wowed us with his dexterity and good humor on old standards you wouldn’t expect a folk singer to attempt.
Steve Goodman was a funny, inspiring and entertaining fellow. And he still is. After they are gone, the world mourns musicians in varying degrees – mostly in proportion to their record sales. I know people who are still broken up about the loss of Elvis, Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston, Buddy Holly – great talents all. The size of their following doesn’t matter as much as they way they connected – like all music it’s still a matter of individual taste and it becomes a rather senseless exercise to contrast and compare.
But if I could bring back one musician from among the legions who left too soon, I think I’d most enjoy hearing more from Steve Goodman.
You have the power to resurrect the singer of your choice. Who?