"City of New Orleans": Arlo Guthrie, Right?
Wrong. Go Cubs, Go. Plus a Bonus.
Now it’s 2024. Steve Goodman passed 40 years ago this year and I want to pay tribute to him.
Everyone knows City of New Orleans. It’s the best train song ever written. It’s an Arlo Guthrie song, right? Nope.
I saw Steve many times. Whenever he came out to the West Coast, I’d go. I only regret I never talked to him, because I’m absolutely certain he’d have been the nicest guy in the world.
Arlo Guthrie (at 2:00) talks about how Steve buttonholed him after a concert and played the song for him. Arlo was tired and just wanted to go home, but finally he told Steve that if he bought him a beer, he could play whatever he wanted in the time it took Arlo to finish it.
I always felt that his studio albums just failed to capture the magic (and humor) of his live shows. Here he is on Austin City Limits:
Not only could he make you laugh, he could tear your heart out:
If you go looking for a CD, the live recordings are the ones to get. The Easter Tapes is especially great.
Oh Hell, Let’s Just Play Them All
I miss him so much.
You Never Even Call Me By My Name
You’re the Girl I Love
The 20th Century Is Almost Over
Live Elvis Imitators
Chicken Cordon Blues
It’s a Sin to Tell a Lie
Stevie had leukemia. He knew he was on borrowed time, as his widow says. He was 36 when he died, on September 1984. I find it impossible to watch this with dry eyes.
Chicago is loyal to its own, and Steve was a Chicago boy through and through. There is nothing finer than being at Wrigley and singing Steve’s song, Go, Cubs, Go when the Cubs win:
Bonus: Lenny Breau
Lenny also died 40 years ago this year:
Now there’s an obscure name, for me at least. I first heard Rick Beato drop the name in an interview, and of course his interviewee knew it. My bad that I didn’t.
There’s at least one album you can buy of him and Tal Farlow; it’s well worth having. Chet Atkins actually produced a recording of his.
Lenny was so into harmony that six strings weren’t enough for him, so he had a seven-string model built:
I started this subchannel because there were a lot of music documentaries that I thought were under the radar and you might like them. I have to say this one, made by his daughter
is probably the worst music movie I’ve ever watched, purely as a movie. But if you just want to learn who Lenny was, it’s worth watching.
Lenny had the immense respect of many of the world’s top guitarists. Here are some who appear and talk about him :
This is a Canadian documentary on him. (Be warned: a lot of the interview is filmed in front of a window with loud traffic noise in the background.)
His tale is a very sad one. He got hooked on heroin fairly early and couldn’t kick it. From all accounts, he was a sweet, vulnerable person who deserved much better from life.