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Live at the Earl of Old Town

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Album Review

Steve Goodman, more than two decades after his death from leukemia, still retains a strong following among devotees of folk-derived singer/songwriters who also play a wicked acoustic guitar and happen to worship the Chicago Cubs. Posthumous Goodman CD releases don't trickle out very often, but when they do, those fans grab them up quickly. Live at the Earl of Old Town provides plenty of reasons for them to rejoice. Recorded in August 1978 at the Chicago club where Goodman got his start (and not a reissue of his similarly titled debut album, Gathering at the Earl of Old Town), the tape surfaced after decades stashed away. The recording boasts excellent sound quality, but more importantly it captures Goodman at the peak of his artistry. His cleverness is in high gear in "Men Who Love Women Who Love Men," the final word on sexuality-identity/open-mindedness tunes, and he's got the crowd in stitches with Shel Silverstein's hysterical "Three Legged Man." A tribute to Goodman's wife, "I Gotta Hand It to You," gives credit where it's due in a love song that's purely romantic while remaining devoid of sap. Goodman's cover choices are never less than intriguing, either, while country standards such as Terry Fell's "Truck Drivin' Man" and Leon Payne's "Lost Highway" (made famous by Hank Williams) had already been covered by dozens of artists before Goodman got to them, he managed to bring a fresh sparkle to them. Ditto the offbeat choice of Bobby Day's '50s hit "Rockin' Robin," to which he applies just enough rock grit to assure that it's not the Michael Jackson version he's aping. Goodman's take on the Harry Woods oldie "Red Red Robin" (the evening's other robin-themed tune)is a welcomed excuse to indulge in some fancy fretwork of the Doc Watson school (with a touch of Django), and his bottleneck work on Albert E. Brumley's oft-recorded gospel classic "I'll Fly Away," dueling it out with guest Corky Siegel's harmonica, is stunning, renovating the song completely. Another special guest, Jethro Burns (of Homer & Jethro fame), lends his mandolin to Goodman's "Family Tree." And yes, of course, there's "City of New Orleans," the song for which Goodman is best remembered, via Arlo Guthrie's 1972 hit cover. Goodman treats it like any other number in his set, no special fanfare, yet it is, unsurprisingly, well-received by the faithful. He's saving his real enthusiasm for the show's penultimate performance, though: "When the Cubs Go Marching In." Had he lived, he'd undoubtedly still be waiting for them to be in that number.

Customer Reviews

"When Steve Goodman Goes Marching In!"

..And the Chicago Cubs win the World Series; there will be noises coming down from "Rock & Roll Heaven!" This is truly a "Lost Highway" of an LP; thanks for re-discovering it again! Mr. Steve Goodman loved both his Chicago Cubs and the Chicago Clubs gave him numerous opportunities to perform his many intelligent & witty compositions (not easy to be able to combine the two!) As a songwriter; guitarist and record producer; Steve Goodman was really "coming into his own"; when he passed away @ 1984. { It has been rightly said that the mark of a great songwriter is that the songs outlive them; and are carried on by other artists} Most famously would be "The City Of New Orleans": Covered most righteously by Arlo Guthrie & Willie Nelson (among others) { In College, I had "Words We Can Dance To"; a fine introduction to Steve Goodman' musical gifts!} Steve has sung he was "Out Of Date And Born Too Late!"("Let's Give A Party" for Steve Goodman tonite!")...by Grimmbo.

It Was A Long Time Ago ...

It was in the early 70's and my friends and I used to frequent a club called the Quiet Knight on Belmont and Sheffield. We weren't old enough to drink, so we had to sit in the "milk and cookie" section, but it was well worth it! We saw Arlo Guthrie there and Kris Kristofferson, John Prine, Cheech and Chong, Corky Siegal and the list goes on and on. And then there was the night we saw Kris Kristofferson, John Prine and a little guy named Steve Goodman. We didn't know it at the time, but it was a piece of Chicago music history in the making. The Quiet Knight is a tanning salon now, but the memories of that club get a big jolt when I listen to this album. Steve Goodman was an amazing talent. I didn't realize it at the time, but when I listen to this collection I'm in awe of his songwriting talent as well as the remarkable way he played guitar. If you grew up during that time and remember the performances this, of course, is a must have. If you've never heard of Steve Goodman and you love folk music and Chicago, sit back, listen and learn.

A Piece of Chicago

To truly appreciate Steve Goodman, you have to know Chicago. The Lincoln Park Pirates really did exist, as a friend of mine discovered very late one night, and I am not sure what us Cub fans would do if they really did win the big one. 2003 was both heartbreaking and scary, for what if they WON?!?!?!?!? Also, he richly deserved having some of his ashes buried at Wrigley, as he bled Cub Blue as much as any man, save maybe Ron Santo. We miss you Steve.

Biography

Born: July 25, 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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Live at the Earl of Old Town, Steve Goodman
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