Monday, September 25, 2006

Chicago Shorty

During the 1970s Chicago was the center of folk music in the United States. The Windy City was alive with musicians plying their trade at the little clubs that sprouted in the Old Town area. The most famous of these clubs was the Earl of Old Town on Wells Street. The Earl was a cozy nightclub owned by Earl J.J. Pionke that featured live music every night of the week. The audience was a mix of locals and other musicians who were there for the music. Some of the regulars on the stage at the Earl included Steve Goodman, Fred Holstein, Bonnie Koloc, Jim Post, and a host of others.

Steve Goodman was a student at Lake Forest College when he started playing for a living. It was 1969, he had just married Nancy Pruter and was writing commercial jingles to pay the bills when he was diagnosed with leukemia.

In 1971 the artists of the Earl issued a locally produced album entitled "Gathering at the Earl of Old Town" on which Goodman first appeared on record. Later in 1971, Goodman was playing at another little Chicago club called the Quiet Knight as the opening act for Kris Kristofferson. Kristofferson was impressed enough with Goodman that he intoduced him to Paul Anka who recorded a few demo tapes and signed him to Buddah Records. Once again opening at the Quiet Knight, this time for Arlo Guthrie, Goodman asked Guthrie for his opinon of a song he had recently written. Arlo Guthrie liked "The City of New Orleans" enough to ask Goodman for permission to record it. The song became a hit in 1972 and provided Goodman with enough money to make music his career.

Steve Goodman was always active at the Old Town School of Folk Music and it was there that he met and mentored another folksinger by the name of John Prine. The two would remain good friends and collaborators. Goodman and Prine had written a spoof on the typical country song entitled "You Never Even Call Me By My Name", which was recorded by David Allen Coe in 1974 and hit the country charts. Goodman wrote many songs about his hometown of Chicago, including two songs for the long-suffering Chicago Cubs; "A Dying Cub Fan's Last Request" and "Go, Cubs, Go". Steve Goodman also saved a piece of stringband history when he convinced Martin, Bogan & Armstrong to join him on one of his albums and then to renew their own careers and begin recording again.

A songwriters songwriter, Goodman never found commercial success with his own recordings, although all recieved critical acclaim. He was a tremendous influence on other singer-songwriters.

Leukemia took Steve Goodman at the age of 36 on September 20, 1984. Goodman's ashes are buried under home plate at Chicago's Wrigley Field.

Steve Goodman - Somebody Else's Troubles.mp3

Steve Goodman - Six Hours Ahead Of The Sun.mp3

Steve Goodman - I Ain't Heard You Play No Blues.mp3

These cuts are from Steve Goodman's 1972 LP "Somebody Else's Troubles".
All of Steve Goodman's recordings are still available thanks to John Prine's Oh Boy Records. Buy them at


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for this. I have all of Steve Goodman's album on vinyl. I've always loved Lincoln Park Pirates - you're post made me dig it up. thnx

September 25, 2006 9:57 PM  
Blogger kjk said...

Now you are just teasing me, Ed. Being a lifelong Cub Fan ....
A Dying Cub Fan's Last Request.


September 25, 2006 10:17 PM  
Blogger Ed said...

Lincoln Park Pirates! Yep, I too have all of Steve Goodman's albums on vinyl.

Ken, I did think of you and that song as I was deciding which to post. Somehow I knew you had a copy. Thanks.

September 26, 2006 7:24 AM  
Blogger Kat said...

Love these and all of Steve Goodwin's, and it is only fitting that his last resting place be at Wrigley Field. He did love his Cubbies.

September 26, 2006 3:10 PM  

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