Some of the most fun songs that I’ve ever played and sung I learned from the recordings of Steve Goodman.
On his 1972 album, Somebody Else’s Troubles, Steve lists the song as “The Vegetable Song (The Barnyard Dance).” The song’s author, Virginia-born, Piedmont Blues musician Carl Martin (1906-1979) called it simply “Barnyard Dance” on his 1972 recording with Matrin, Bogan & Armstrong.
Here’s Steve’s recording, the one that I learned the song from.
Sometime later, I heard “The Twentieth Century Is Almost Over” on the radio and had one of those moments when I knew instantly that I must learn how to play and sing that song. And I did.
Steve Goodman co-wrote “The Twentieth Century…” with fellow Chicago-based songwriter John Prine and released it on his 1977 LP Say It In Private. That, by the way, is Pete Seeger playing banjo.
Steve Goodman was born on July 25, 1948 in Chicago, Illinois. He started playing guitar in 1961 at the age of thirteen and found inspiration in the music of Woody Guthrie, Pete Seeger, Bob Dylan, Hank Williams and some of the many Blues musicians who played the clubs on Chicago’s South Side. He graduated from high school in 1965, attended the University of Illinois and then, in 1967, decided to try making his way as a full-time, professional musician.
Steve Goodman is most famous for his song “City of New Orleans.” He recorded it on his first album, Steve Goodman, which came out in 1971, but it was Arlo Guthrie’s 1972 version that made the charts.
Willie Nelson put together a new version of “City of New Orleans” in 1984. That recording resulted in “City of New Orleans” being voted the Best Country Song of 1984, earning a posthumous Grammy Award for its songwriter.
Among Steve Goodman’s many outstanding songs, “Chicken Cordon Bleus” from Somebody Else’s Troubles and “A Dying Cub Fan’s Last Request” from the 1984 CD Affordable Art are highly recommended.
Well before he signed his first recording contract, Steve Goodman had been diagnosed with leukemia. The disease finally took him on September 20, 1984. Steve was 36 years old.
Songwriter, producer of Steve’s first album and friend Kris Kristofferson would remember Steve Goodman as: “A truly gifted artist, (who) took such obvious joy in his work and his life that he was a joy to be around. Unlike most of us, he knew he didn’t have time to waste on anything but the good stuff.”