Posts Tagged ‘Clay Eals’

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

Tuesday, July 15th, 2008

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

Recent listening

Sunday, July 6th, 2008

I loaded the iPod with stuff to study and stuff to check on on a five-day tour, and the results have been quite rewarding.

I grabbed a Sandy Bull album, Re-Inventions, at KPFA a couple of weeks ago – my first time really listening to him. Silly me, missing Sandy Bull from my musical consciousness all these years. “Blend” was the one that really nailed me.

Also: Mudcrutch! “Crystal River” really tickled me. The Byrds meet The Doors at Donovan’s house.

Sittin’ on a Gold Mine, the latest from Free Peoples. They’ve added a trombone player since their last CD, and the new one is a whole new level of cool. Three excellent songwriters; Johnny Downer is a killer guitarist; a sort of ’40s roadhouse feel, somehow. I love this band.

I’m editing an interview with Clay Eals, who wrote a biography of Steve Goodman, and multi-instrumentalist Jim Rothermel, who played with Goodman a lot. So I’m listening to a lot of my favorite Goodman CDs and some ones I had never heard before, issued after his death. The Easter Tapes is a radio show, Goodman and Rothermel and a delighted DJ; one of the great treats of this set is “Big Iron,” which Bob Weir covered with Kingfish. Goodman’s version is a whole nother brand of wonderful.

I wish I could remember who sent me “Donovan’s Reef Jam,” from a Country Joe and the Fish Live 1969 show that was released in the ’90s. It’s 38 minutes long, with Jerry Garcia, Mickey Hart, Jorma Kaukonen, and Steve Miller joining in. I need to listen again in a quieter environment, but it seems to me there’s a longish stretch of this jam during which there were multiple disagreements over the “one,” but some thrilling music anyway!

Roy Schneider and the Roadside Turtle Rescue. “Friendly, funny, smart American songs in a down-home style,” as I blurbed his last CD. “Old Friend of Mine” is the one that got me today – a tale of a long-term musical friendship.

Claudia Russell, Ready to Receive. I’ve shared a songwriter stage with Claudia and her partner; this is a full-band CD. The title song and “Just Like You,” an intense song about breast cancer, in particular.

And The Missing Moonlighters, one disc of live and one disc of studio. “Let It Rock” and “Sittin’ on Top of the World” are two songs the GD also covered, which gives me an excuse to play some of this kickass band on the radio soon. Bill Kirchen is a guitar god!

Interview with Steve Goodman biographer

Saturday, July 5th, 2008

Steve Goodman Way, Chicago

I happened upon this by accident in Chicago.

I am in the process of editing an interview with Clay Eals, author of Steve Goodman: Facing the Music. The program will air on KPFA (94.1 Berkeley CA and on the web) Wednesday, July 16, 8:00pm Pacific time. Clay brought multi-instrumentalist and longtime Goodman collaborator Jim Rothermel with him. We’ll have some rare musical treats as well.

Here’s an online interview with Eals that might make you want to read his book. Goodman was an incandescent musician and a great American who died way too young.