Steve Goodman’s Final Albums, “Affordable Art” & “Artistic Hair,” Reissued With New Live Tracks

One of my great experiences from living 30+ years in the City of the Big Shoulders was seeing Steve Goodman perform live. Steve Goodman was a Chicago singer-songwriter from best known for writing “City of New Orleans,” which was recorded by Arlo Guthrie and Willie Nelson and which was awarded a Grammy in 1985. He also wrote many other songs (see David Allan Coe Sings “The Perfect Country & Western Song” – You Never Even Called Me By My Name), including a number of Chicagocentric ditties, such as “A Dying Cub Fan’s Last Request”, “Daley’s Gone,” “Go, Cubs, Go,” and my personal favorite, “Lincoln Park Pirates.”

Now, Goodman’s final two albums, with multiple bonus tracks, are being reissued by Omnivore Recordings.

From ‘Affordable Art’ and ‘Artistic Hair’ by Steve Goodman Reviews: Reissued Music From a Songwriter’s Last Days by Barry Mazor (WSJ: July 22, 2019).

“Affordable Art,” the last studio album, features both “A Dying Cub Fan’s Last Request” (Goodman died in September 1984) and “Go Cubs Go,” the team’s official song that’s used to this day, both beloved by denizens of Wrigley Field and baseball fans well beyond, as well as a mind-boggling turn on “Take Me Out to the Ballgame,” with extraordinary instrumentals—guitar from Goodman and mandolin from Jethro Burns, the instrument master best known as one half of Homer and Jethro, the country comedy team. Also included, a duo with close friend and sometime musical partner John Prine on the ballad they wrote together, “Souvenirs.”

The live tracks on “Artistic Hair” were prime examples culled from performances over the previous decade—most backed by the gifted Burns, and David Amram, and featuring Goodman’s own fluid and sophisticated guitar style. (He, in fact, had very little hair left, by that point, as the album cover shows.) There’s a take on what he called “the ultimate country song,” the comedy number made famous by David Allen Coe, “You Never Even Called Me by My Name.” Other Goodman favorites, such as “Chicken Cordon Bleus,” “Lincoln Park Pirates,” “Elvis Imitators” and, yes, “City of New Orleans,” line up along with breezy, engaging takes on everything from “Winter Wonderland” to “Tico Tico” and “I’ll Fly Away.”

Steve Goodman’s lasting shout out, “Good morning, America, how are ya? Don’t you know me, I’m your native son?” evoked the passing of nation-connecting trains; generations reaching out to reconnect, divided by Vietnam War-era cultural upheaval; and also, more personally and well-disguised, the outcry of a marginalized original. These reissues are this generation’s opportunity to hear what moved his fans, but too many missed.

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”

Affordable 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”

Credit Due Department: Steve Goodman photo by David Gans (Flickr user dgans, –, CC BY 2.0, via Wikipedia.

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