'City of New Orleans' Writer Steve Goodman's Final Albums Reissued - Rolling Stone
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‘City of New Orleans’ Writer Steve Goodman to Be Celebrated on Deluxe Album Reissues

Folk-country singer died at 36 in 1984, just prior to the release of his album ‘Affordable Art’

Steve GoodmanSteve Goodman

The final two albums by "City of New Orleans" songwriter Steve Goodman will be reissued in deluxe editions.


Like his longtime friend and collaborator John Prine, folk-country tunesmith Steve Goodman got his professional start in Chicago, penning advertising jingles during the day while working in clubs and bars at night. Goodman’s perspicacious songwriting, which he injected with a deft sense of humor and keen observations about the human condition, will be celebrated with the upcoming reissue of two LPs originally recorded for his own groundbreaking indie label, Red Pajamas.

Available July 19th on Omnivore Recordings, Artistic Hair, a live compilation first released in 1983, and 1984’s Affordable Art will be supplemented by a total of 17 previously unheard bonus tracks. Among the highlights are three cuts celebrating Goodman’s lifelong allegiance to baseball, and more specifically, his beloved Chicago Cubs, with the comical “A Dying Cub Fan’s Last Request,” a 1984 bonus track, “Go Cubs Go,” originally released as a single for WGN Radio, and his own rendition of “Take Me Out to the Ballgame.”

Among the most acclaimed Goodman compositions, two are considered modern folk-country classics. “City of New Orleans,” a quintessential train song recorded for his 1971 debut album, became a Top 20 pop hit the following year for Arlo Guthrie. When Willie Nelson rode his version to the top of the country chart in 1984, it earned the songwriter a posthumous Grammy for Best Country Song. With uncredited assistance from Prine, Goodman crafted “You Never Even Call Me by My Name,” a cut from his self-titled debut LP for the Buddah label in 1971. The track would later become a Top 10 country hit for controversial outlaw performer David Allan Coe, who released it with a somewhat altered title, using the past-tense of “call,” and inserted a spoken epilogue suggesting that he talked Goodman into adding the litany of country-themed clichés to the final verse — mama, drinking, prison, trains, trucks — to turn the tune into “the perfect country song.” But according to author Clay Eals’ entertaining and exhaustive biography Steve Goodman: Facing the Music (2007, ECW Press), although Coe’s 1975 hit version was the first to incorporate the comical coda on record, the singer’s recollection of events is either “faulty or fabricated.” In concerts and interviews since December 1971, Goodman had credited Chicago musician Albert Williams with the inspiration for that final verse.

Steve Goodman succumbed to leukemia at just 36 years old, just prior to the 1984 release of Affordable Art.

[This story has been updated.]

Artistic Hair track listing:
1. “East St. Louis Tweedle-Dee”
2. “Let’s Give a Party”
3. “Winter Wonderland”
4. “Elvis Imitators”
5. “Tico Tico”
6. “The Water Is Wide”
7. “Red Red Robin”
8. “Chicken Cordon Bleus”
9. “Old Fashioned”
10. “City of New Orleans”
11. “Three-Legged Man”
12. “You Never Even Called Me by My Name”
Bonus Tracks
13. “The I Don’t Know Where I’m Goin’, But I’m Goin’ Nowhere in a Hurry Blues”
14. “Lincoln Park Pirates”
15. “Wonderful World of Sex”
16. “Men Who Love Women Who Love Men”
17. “The Auctioneer”
18. “The Broken String Song”
19. “I’ll Fly Away”
20. “It’s a Sin to Tell a Lie”
21. “You Never Even Called Me by My Name”

Afforable Art track listing:
1. “If Jethro Were Here”
2. “Vegematic”
3. “Old Smoothies”
4. “Talk Backwards”
5. “How Much Tequila (Did I Drink Last Night)?”
6. “When My Rowboat Comes In”
7. “Souvenirs”
8. “Take Me Out to the Ball Game”
9. “A Dying Cub Fan’s Last Request”
10. “California Promises”
11. “Watchin’ Joey Glow”
12. “Grand Canyon Song”
Bonus Tracks
13. “Go Cubs Go (WGN Radio’s Cubs Theme)” – Steve Goodman With Chicago Cubs Chorus
14. “Streets of London”
15. “Old Smoothies”
16. “Vegematic”
17. “Friday Night”
18. “Fire Escape”
19. “Don’t Do Me Any Favors Anymore”
20. “It Took Me So Long”

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