Dead to the World 7/16/08: Remembering Steve Goodman

Steve Goodman 4/30/83, originally uploaded by dgans.

NOTE: you can now listen to this show on the KPFA archive

Tonight’s show is entirely devoted to the life and music of the Chicago-born singer-songwriter Steve Goodman. I interviewed Clay Eals, the author of Steve Goodman: Facing the Music, on June 23. He brought along Jim Rothermel, a multi-instrumentalist who recorded and performed with Goodman for many years.

From an earlier post on this blog:

Goodman was well-known and much beloved in the music world I was coming up in in the early ’70s, and I saw him perform many times. He wrote some very funny songs, including “Elvis Imitators” (which appears on my CD Solo Acoustic), “The Lincoln Park Pirates” (about a renegade towing company in Goodman’s native Chicago), “Door Number Three” (made famous by its co-author, Jimmy Buffett), and countless others. Goodman also wrote some of the sweetest, most sentimental songs you could imagine (”Would You Like to Learn to Dance?”, “Old Fashioned,” and “My Old Man”) – and of course he is most famous for composing “City of New Orleans,” most famously covered by Arlo Guthrie but recorded by many others as well. And of course, he is the composer of “A Dying Cub Fan’s Last Request” and the ultimate country-music sendup, “You Never Even Call Me By My Name.”

Goodman died of leukemia in September 1984, having survived for 15 years after he was first diagnosed. He was a tiny dynamo onstage, often levitating with the excitement of what he was playing on the guitar. His songwriting and performing styles were a great inspiration to me, and I have several of his songs in my repertoire to this day.

When Eals contacted me in search of materials from my files for his biography, I was delighted to oblige. When the book was published, I interviewed Eals in an author forum called the Inkwell, part of

In the interview broadcast tonight, Clay states that the best Steve Goodman album is actually a DVD: Live from Austin City Limits. I agree, but I would also recommend the two-CD release No Big Surprise: The Steve Goodman Anthology – one disc of studio work and one live, including many previously-unreleased tracks.

You can listen to the program live online via – 8-10pm Pacific time.

Clay Eals will read and sign books on Monday, July 28, 7:30 pm at Moe’s Books, 2476 Telegraph Avenue, Berkeley. Jim Rothermel and I will be there to play a few of our favorite Godman songs, and other musicians will be with us as well.

The music:
City of New Orleans – Arlo Guthrie, from Tribute to Steve Goodman
Door Number Three – Steve Goodman, Jessie’s Jig and Other Favorites
Mama Don’t Allow It – Steve Goodman, Jessie’s Jig and Other Favorites
Banana Republics – Steve Goodman, Words We Can Dance To
Two commercials for the US Navy
Bruised Orange (Chain of Sorrow)John Prine, Bruised Orange
Take Me Out to the BallgameNo Big Surprise: The Steve Goodman Anthology
A Dying Cub Fan’s Last Request – Steve Goodman, very rare single
You’d Better Get It While You CanNo Big Surprise: The Steve Goodman Anthology
Old Fashioned – Steve Goodman, Words We Can Dance To

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5 Responses to “Dead to the World 7/16/08: Remembering Steve Goodman”

  1. Fritz says:

    Just a minor correction: Lincoln Towing is not really “renegade”– just occasionally “creative” in their enforcement of our great burg’s parking regulations. My wife got towed by them once right after she moved here; super friendly and helpful folks to do business with! ;-)

  2. david says:

    It is amazing to me how strongly this John Prine song, “Bruised Orange (Chain of Sorrow),” affects me every time I hear it. Thirty-five years later, it still gives me chills every time.

    It was such a great thing to hear Jim Rothermel (who played the soprano sax solo at the end) tell me it works that way on him to this day, too.

  3. […] Dead to the World – a two-hour special with Steve Goodman biographer Clay Eals and musician Jim Rothermel – is permanently archived on the […]

  4. […] Last week I broadcast an interview with Clay Eals and Jim Rothermel. You can read more about the singer and the book, and listen to the archived interview, on the Cloud Surfing blog […]

  5. […] this summer. Lookin’ for Trouble – Steve Goodman, Jessie’s Jig and Other Favorites. One of my all-time musical heroes. Eight Days a Week – Rubber Souldiers Feb 6, 2009 Davis CA In The Flowers – Animal Collective, […]

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