Steve Goodman: City of New Orleans and Talk Backwards

Here is a guest post from my cousin Ed:

Steve Goodman was a very talented songwriter who wrote a number of songs with which we’re familiar.  Above is a young Steve Goodman performing the probably the most well known of the batch — The City of New Orleans — which was written on a train of the same name. He noted:

“I looked out the window and I wrote down some stuff and it rhymed. It didn’t take too much more than that – about a half an hour.  Sometimes you get visited by songs.  You don’t have too much to do with them – they just show up.”  It was the song played for the astronauts on Apollo 11 to wake them every morning.  See an interview about this and other things here.

Goodman created his own big break:

Seeing Arlo Guthrie in a bar, Goodman asked to be allowed to play a song for him. Guthrie grudgingly agreed on the condition that Goodman buy him a beer first; Goodman played “City of New Orleans” which Guthrie liked enough that he asked for the right to record it. Guthrie’s version of the song became a hit in 1972, and provided Goodman with enough financial success to make his music a full-time career. The song would become an American standard, covered by many other musicians including Johnny Cash, Judy Collins, and Willie Nelson.

Steve also wrote a number of humorous songs.  Here’s an excerpt from an interview (link to full interview above) where he talked about how he came to write Talk Backwards (below) and then performs it.  Steve also wrote a song about “the sad story of a man who falls asleep with his television on and has visions…”

Steve was a big Cubs fan and he wrote two songs about that.  To read more about Steve, see his bio here.

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2 Responses

  1. Soul of Wit

    Few songs capture the American experience more completely than “City of New Orleans”.

    Reply
  2. Carl

    Couldn’t agree more, SoW. That nice post was written by my cousin…Happy New Year.

    Reply

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