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Steve Goodman

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Album Review

Steve Goodman's 1971 self-titled album marked the debut of a great new songwriter. "City of New Orleans," which was (then) soon to be a hit for Arlo Guthrie, is the obvious standout, and "You Never Even Call Me by My Name," later a country hit by David Allan Coe in a revised version, is also impressive, but "I Don't Know Where I'm Goin', but I'm Goin' Nowhere in a Hurry Blues" and "Would You Like to Learn Dance?" also show off different sides of this versatile talent. Versatility is the key here, as Goodman broke well out of the "folkie" tag to embrace pop, country, and arcane jazz, including not only his own compositions but also covers of songs by Hank Williams, Johnny Otis, and pal John Prine while utilizing a who's who of Nashville session musicians. Beyond the musical eclecticism, there was also a variety in tone, with gentle evocations of tenderness and humor alternating so that you didn't always know whether Goodman was serious or kidding. At a time when sensitive singer/songwriters were all the rage (a trend that probably earned Goodman his record contract), this was one guy who was at least as interested in picking an old country song as he was in baring his soul. [The 1999 reissue added two bonus tracks, "Election Year Rag," previously unissued in the U.S. and featuring Bob Dylan on piano, and the previously unreleased "Georgia Rag."]


Born: 25 July 1948 in Chicago, IL

Genre: Singer/Songwriter

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s

Growing up in what he called "a Midwestern middle-class Jewish family," Steve Goodman began playing the guitar as a teenager. He was influenced by the folk revival of the early '60s and by country performers such as Jimmie Rodgers and Hank Williams. After attending college in the mid-'60s, he turned to playing in Chicago clubs by night and writing commercial jingles by day. In 1971, he opened for Kris Kristofferson and was seen by Paul Anka, who financed demo recordings that led to a contract with...
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