The Chicago Songs of Steve Goodman
By: Linnea Crowther
5 years ago
Chicago has its fair share of talented and famous musicians – over the years, the city that’s boasted its own unique brands of jazz, blues and soul, has hosted superstars from nearly every genre of American music: Benny Goodman, Nat King Cole, Mel Torme, Mahalia Jackson, Muddy Waters, Bo Diddley, Buddy Guy, Koko Taylor, Sam Cooke, Curtis Mayfield, Lou Rawls, Minnie Riperton, Jennifer Hudson, Chaka Khan, Kanye West, Common, Wilco, Smashing Pumpkins and, of course, Chicago. Here in the city that Legacy.com calls home, we love our native artists… but even more, we love when they sing about our hometown.
When it comes to Chicago songwriters, Steve Goodman was one of the greats. He wrote about much more than the city, but city songs loom large in his catalog. On the day when the Chicago folkie would have turned 64, we're listening to some of our favorites.
Anyone who has ever tried to park in Chicago knows what Goodman was talking about when he wrote "The Lincoln Park Pirates" about the notoriously overenthusiastic Lincoln Towing Service. (Me personally, I've managed to go seven months without being towed… and almost a year since my last redlight-cam ticket.)
In addition to parking and driving woes, there's another thing Chicagoans have in common – strong opinions about the Daley family. Goodman penned "Daley's Song" after the death of Richard J. Daley, the first mayor from the dynastic family, and managed to mostly avoid controversy in favor of eulogizing the man who loomed large over the city's politics for decades.
Oh, and one more thing Chicagoans tend to have strong opinions about? Our sports teams. And whether you pledge allegiance to Northside or South, if you live in Chicago, you probably have something to say about The Cubs. Goodman wrote several Cubs-related songs, the first couple written from the standpoint of the long-suffering Cubs fan. But when he was called out for the depressing nature of "A Dying Cubs Fan's Last Request," he sarcastically wrote a more positive song for the ‘Loveable Losers’… and it became perhaps his best-known composition. If you've ever watched the Cubs win a game (hey, it happens), you've heard Goodman's "Go Cubs Go" play while the fans celebrate.
Goodman, who battled leukemia from a young age, died in 1984 when he was just 36 years old. Eight days after his death, the Cubs played their first post-season game since before Goodman was born. Though he wasn't here to appreciate it, a bit of Goodman lives on at Wrigley Field, where part of his ashes were scattered. And he lives on in the hearts of Chicagoans, too.