Song Stories

“City of New Orleans”

Arlo Guthrie | 1972

Around 1971, believing he had less than a year to live, Steve Goodman approached Arlo Guthrie at a bar and asked if he could play this song for him. Battling leukemia, Goodman hoped Guthrie would record the tune — inspired by a trip from Chicago to New Orleans on that eponymous train — so his wife would have money after he died. Goodman lived to see Guthrie's version become a hit, not passing away till 1984. "God bless Arlo Guthrie," Rolling Stone reported him saying before performing this song himself. "He pays my rent."

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Song Stories


The Pack | 2006

Berkeley, California rappers the Pack made their footwear choice clear in 2006 with the song "Vans." The track caught the attention of Too $hort, who signed them to his imprint. MTV refused to play the video for the song, though, claiming it was essentially a commercial for the product. Rapper Lil' B disagreed. "I didn’t know nobody [at] Vans," he said. "I was just a rapper who wore Vans." Even without MTV's support, Lil' B recognized the impact of the track. "God blessed me with such a revolutionary song… People around my age know who really started a lot of the dressing people are into now."

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