Music Memories 6: Steve Goodman

Steve Goodman: Somebody Else’s Troubles

Somebody Else's Trouble
Somebody Else’s Troubles

Unlike most of the my other Music Memories posts, this one doesn’t tie back to any one specific incident. Rather it reminds me of a number of things. It is a bit like playing the album in a large empty room. The songs echo off of the blank walls, floor and ceiling. Like the echoes, you hear the present and the past. If you listen hard enough you might think you hear the future, but that is impossible…I think. I’ve seen where some people believe that there is only a past and a present, that the future doesn’t exist. I’ve seen that other people believe there is no present or future, only a past that keeps repeating itself. Still others believe there is no past or future, only a present that goes on forever. But all this speculation belongs somewhere else, not in a post about Steve Goodman’s music.

I never saw Steve Goodman perform a live show, but I wish I had. I remember seeing him on television on a show named Made In Chicago which later changed its name to Soundstage. I liked what I saw, but I couldn’t find any music by him in the local record stores. I’m not even sure he had recorded anything then.

I forgot about him after a while, but then I heard his recording of City of New Orleans when it started getting some local airplay on the radio. Even later I came across this album in the record store, and while it didn’t have City Of New Orleans on it, I decided to try it. Wow! The album starts with Michael Smith’s The Dutchman. That song alone was worth the price of the album. The album also turned me on to the fact that Goodman’s guitar work was great.

Goodman wrote many of the songs on the album, including the title song that I’ve linked to. Other artist have ties to this album as well: Jerry Jeff Walker wrote the lyrics to The Lovin’ Of The GameThe Barnyard Dance led me to Bogan, Martin and Armstrong (who had appeared at the 1933 World’s Fair), John Prine and Jimmy Buffett were among the people who were in the cover picture of the album, and I’ve read that Bob Dylan played piano and sang backup vocals on the album. I’m leaving out a lot of other ties that could stretch this post to beyond anything most people want to read.

I think I now own most of the Steve Goodman recordings, either on vinyl, CD, or in digital form. Each of them has something worthwhile to offer. I can only wonder what new things I would be listening to if he hadn’t died when he was thirty-six. And now I can’t listen to the final verse of the title song without thinking about that.