The United Kingdom Interviews

Some of Stevie's albums have been rereleased in the United Kingdom. With these releases came some informative interviews that had been done when Steve was still alive.

The interview from Steve Goodman, Steve's first album
The Interview from Somebody Else's Trouble

Steve Goodman Interview

'Steve Goodman' was the debut album by a Chicago born singer/songwriter of that name. In an interview which took place in London in 1976, Goodman, who had turned 28 only a few days earlier, recalled that his initial interest in music came from his exposure to AM radio in the early 60s, when he was a teenager, and playing electric guitar in bar bands. As he remarked "I got into music because I wasn't playing much football at 5ft 2 ins, so the guitar was an outlet for me." Later, he discovered such country heroes as Hank Williams and Jimmie Rodgers..."Yeah, that was four or five years later. I don't know - it made an impression, it sounded real honest to me. It was white and it was honest. It was weird for me to figure it in those terms, I guess, but these were guys who could actually sing the blues, and I loved that. I was really enamoured of the blues by then. That was how I found them, in the country section of blues record shops". Did you get into R&B because the Beatles and the Stones played that sort of music, or was it coincidental? "Probably coincidental, but what I liked about the Stones was that they were playing Buddy Holly tunes and they had Wolf on Shindig; with them".

After college, Goodman returned to Chicago, where he performed in local folk clubs - as an electric guitarist? "No, I was wholly acoustic by then, partly because it was prohibitive to have a band. When I had saved up enough money to buy my first good guitar, I bought an acoustic rather than an electric. By that time, my interests had spread just enough that I wasn't at all sure I wanted to be in a band - I was pretty much into the solo thing right at that point." While pursuing a solo career, Goodman was 'discovered' by the unlikely duo of Paul Anka and Kris Kristofferson: "Its a situation that had nothing in common with anything I had experienced before or since. I was on the bill with Kris at a club in Chicago, The Quiet Night, and Anka was playing downtown. Kris had really just come into his own Me and Bobby Mcgee with Janis Joplin, Help Me Make it Through the Night; was a hit, Cash had just had a big record with Sunday Morning Coming Down , Ray Price had cut ;For The Good Times and it was a million seller, and all of a sudden, Kris was hot everywhere. It didn't matter which market you were talking about, everybody was cutting his stuff - for a good reason, the stuff was good, and it holds up".

"So here I was, the local guy who got the gig by accident, the support act for five nights. Kris liked Would You Like To Learn To Dance and Anka came to see Kris' show because Anka was singing Help Me Make It Through The Night in his night club act, okay? We went back to Anka's hotel for this party in the middle of the night, Kris' band and assorted hangers on , and Kris made me play Would You Like To Learn To Dance for Anka in the middle of the night - it was about five in the morning by this time. I played it, and Anka offered to buy me a ticket to New York , at which point I said "It would be great, but would you come with me to the Earl of Old Town to hear my pal"; which they did next night. I said "l'll come with you , but there's something else you ought to do before you leave town". The rest of it's on the back of Prine's first album, pretty much how it happened".

And what it says there, signed by Kristofferson is this: "John Prine caught us by surprise in the late-night morning let-down after our last show in Chicago. Steve Goodman ( who'd shared the bill with us that week ) asked us to go to the Earl of Old Town to listen to a friend he said we had to hear, and since Steve had knocked us out all week with his songs, we obliged. It was too damn late, and we had an early wake-up ahead of us, and by the time we got there Old Town was nothing but empty streets and dark windows. And the club was closing , but the owner let us come in, pulled some chairs off a couple of tables, and John unpacked his guitar and got back up to sing".

The result was that Goodman signed with Buddah and Prine with Atlantic. Goodman's debut album was produced by Kristofferson and Norbert Putnam, and recorded in Nashville, using virtually the cream of Music City's hottest pickers at that time in 1971, including Charlie McCoy, Vassar Clements, Kenny Buttrey, Billy Sanford ( the guitar played who played the intro to Roy Orbison's Oh Pretty Woman), Grady Martin, David Briggs and Ben Kieth, plus Stephen Bruton and Donnie Fritts form Kristofferson's band and Bucky Wilkin ( who also achieved fame as Ronny of the well-known Nashville surfing band Ronny & the Daytonas ).

Goodman recalled "We were living in a dream, we didn't know what was happening. For a while, John was getting all the attention in the States, it appeared I was like ... did you every see any of the Wild Bill Hickock TV Shows? The cowboy who had a comical sidekick, Jingles, who was played by Andy Devine, so at one point I felt like Andy Devine to John's Wild Bill. It was such a good thing to get out and be that strong. I thought it was great - I'd do it again in a minute". This was said without a trace of malice, and Goodman was asked if he didn't find it odd that he was the one who was discovered first, yet the artist he had recommended had received all the attention.

Goodman's response was typical: "Well, shit, it's not a question of that. I would do it again in that situation for anybody. For a while, when John signed with Atlantic, I was trying to get out of New York and go home. I said "that's great somebody got a record contract out of it". Anka eventually hired a guy named Al Burnetta after we were with Buddah. With Paul's career being what it was, it got harder and harder to get him on the 'phone - the guy's real busy, he's always doing something and he's really living in another world than this particular kind of musician. There's no question that his own career was taking up a whole lot of his time, so what happened was that John and Paul and I agreed to disagree, I guess, and let Al Burnetta manage us both, which he still does";.

Goodman also talked in depth about the album, first disclosing that the use of Kristofferson as co-producer was not motivated by publicity. "Nobody else would produce that record. Nobody else had any idea what to do, so finally we asked Kris. He's never produced a record and I said "Hey, man, I hate to do this to you. You've already done everything else, but do you know any record producers by name who you could call up and talk them into taking this one?" He said "here's the thing, I've never done one, but I'll do it. I've got three days in August, and we'll do it with Norbert because he knows the studios and the players, and between the two of us, we'll get something." It was a chance for Kris to experiment with stuff like that, too, but he saved it. It wasn't going to happen, in spite of all this. We did the sonofabitch in three and a half days just non-stop and the whole damn thing was a party. It's amazing it sounds as good as it does. I'm serious, it's fun to look back on now, but I didn't have the slightest clue what to do. I just said "Great, you mean I go in there and I sing out loud? Outasight". 'Put' sat in the control room and played bass at the board, plugged right into the board so he could hear what it was sounding like while it was happening. he wasn't even in the studio, he was playing the bass part in the control room with headphones on. It was one of those - Buttrey would come running in half an hour late, and everyone else would know the lines, sit down and go 'Roll'em' and we'd get it in one or two"

Judging by the excellent musicianship on the album, Nashville cats really do play "clean as country water" ( as John Sebastian noted, even though he thought thatyellow Sun Records came from Nashville, rather than Memphis)... "Yeah, but you've got to be careful so that you don't get formula'd out , and we were lucky in that respect because me never having been down there, I wasn't part of any formula, and neither were my songs, so we got lucky. It was my idea to doSo Fine thinking about my bar band background, and the only reason we did it country Shit, we're in Nashville, lets see what it sounds like country".

Grady Martin came down to see (Joan) Baez, who had just finished cutting the Blessed Are album, and she was hanging around. She sang on Donald and Lydia, John's tune that I did on the album, with Kris. So Grady came down to see her and ended up playing on Would You Like To Learn How To Dance, Yellow Coat; and Jazzman; - that's how we ended up getting Grady. For the uninitiated, Grady Martin, apart from allegedly inventing the fuzzy guitar sound by accident, played guitar on albums by numerous artists, including many by Presley and Buddy Holly's pre-fame Nashville stuff, as well as records by JJ Cale, Eric Anderson and Arlo Guthrie - somewhat legendary you might say - "I'd met Vassar once before, so I called him. I don't know, these things just sort of happened. On the Hank Williams tune Mind Your Own Business, 'Pu'; played upright (bass) - they just set up a bunch of mics in the studio and they cut it the way they used to cut records back when they only had four track. I remember a lot about it because it was the first time I had ever done it, and everything was sinking in. I was thinking 'Why is this happening to me'. Perhaps surprisingly, in view of the quality of the Goodman originals on the album like City of New Orleans ( covered by dozens of others including Arlo Guthrie, who took it to the US top 20 in 1972, Willie Nelson , who had a US country chart topper with his version in 1984 and John Denver - see below) You Never Even Call Me By My Name( a US country top ten hit for David Allen Coe in 1975 and a staple of the repertoire of dozens of country singers all over the world) and Yellow Coat and so on, Goodman denied that these songs had been germinating for several years before they were recorded.

"No, they were all within a year and a half of the record, so they weren't something that was building up because I wasn't really writing that much before '69. Some of the first ones happened to be good enough to stick, City of New Orleans; was the fifth or sixth song I ever wrote and it was an accident, it just tumbled out when I was riding the train. Here's the truth of it. When I got to New York, I had City of New Orleans, Would You Like To Learn To Dance; and Eight Ball Blues; and a couple of others that aren't on the album. I wrote Yellow Coat;. The I Don't Know Where I'm Going But I'm Goin'; Nowhere In A Hurry Blues and You Never Even Call Me By My Name; in a week, about three weeks before I made the record. I don't know what to tell you about that - it got to be time, it was shit or get off the pot. They called my bluff - they said "You've got to make an album here, boy". I asked for it, I've got to have something to put on the sonofabitch. That's what happened.

Some of the originals were based on personal experiences, like City of New Orleans. "We were going to see Nancy's grandmother, may she rest, she was ninety something living in a retirement home in Southern Illinois, and we were going to tell her we'd got married. This was in 1970 - the song was written in the spring and we were married in February, and we went to see her. Nancy fell asleep, and I looked out of the window and wrote down everything I saw. The whole thing took 45 minutes, I don't want to make it out as anything more than it was. I got back to the Earl and played it for a couple of people, and a guy named Dick Wedler said 'Why don't you talk about what happened on the train, then you'll have it' I said sure and wrote the second verse at Earl's desk at the back of the bar, and that was it.

John Denver learned it from me in a hotel in New York where he was staying and he said "Steve, I really want to record this, but I don't think it is commercial the way it is and I want to re-write the last verse because I think I can say something with it." I said 'Go ahead' - I could have told him not to, so it's my fault. The other thing was there was a black engineer at RCA who was offended by the words Old Black Men which is why Denver changed it to old grey Men - it really happened that way. I called the and said "You've got to be kidding me! No one will every be able to accuse me of consciously coming on like that. if I made a mistake because I'm stupid, OK, you can call me on it, but cut that out, don't ever call me something like that , especially in the stuff I'm writing, the one part of me that I want to last". Still it was nice of John to even consider doing the song, but what I'm really happy about is that the version with the right lyrics is the one that caught on";.

It's sometimes said by songwriters that it was a great thrill when so-and-so recorded one of their songs. Did you feel like that about Judy Collins doing City of New Orleans? "I felt better about it than that. When Arlo did it he slowed it down and read it like it was a disappearing railroad blues, almost, and it's a pretty hip little record. If wed done it with as much attention to the lyrics as he did, maybe we'd have got a hit with it, because I thought we caught the train feel better, but I'm sure glad that he did it. Judy Collins cut it right after Arlo and then it was in the can and nothing happened with it. When Arif ( Mardin ) was producing her, she was going to cut it again, and he called me and said she was cutting City of New Orleans and he was producing, and would I like to play on it. I said "Are you kidding? I'll fly iní and I ended up playing on it. Itís the only version of it I play on - I didn't even play on my own album, because we couldn't get it with me playing rhythm guitar. That happens sometimes, and I went for a walk around the block. When I got back, they played me a real good-sounding track and I went in and sang on it. So I had never played on that song on a major record , although I did do it on a thing called Gathering at the Earl of Old Town; which was a local Chicago record. The album also has Ed Holstein doing &Jazzman but I had a cold when I recorded the tracks for that.Turnpike Tom is a fine example of the fictitious storey song, involving an outlaw with practical joker tendencies and a prophylactic machine! "That was a lark. I was in Georgia and saw these machines in the bathroom of a fancy restaurant. I wasn't necessarily sheltered about stuff like this, but it surprised me to see it in a restaurant - I couldn't wait to see what the hard core stuff in the gas stations looked like. I just went in and thought 'This is a funny place - I bet there's $20,000 in there' so I made up the song". Would You Like To Dance appears to be a love song designed to cheer up a cripple..."I was trying to cheer me up. I'm sure it didn't work out that way, but I think that was what I was trying to do, to rationalise what I was doing even standing there - at least, that was what was in my head before I wrote it. I didn't think the song was any good until Kris did it - I thought it was a nice enough ballad, but I didn't think it was saying anything to anyone apart from me. The night when Kris heard it at the Quiet Night in Chicago, I sang it because I couldn't think of anything else to sing. I can't say that these things are planned - some things are pure luck. I couldn't remember all the words to California Blues at the time, I was feeling a little low and I thought I'd buy myself three minutes by singing Would You Like to Learn to Dance

Yellow Coat is something that might have really happened... 'A few minor structural details happened and keep happening. I've met that person again. That's.....' An old girlfriend? "Yeah, better than that .... and worse. When you see someone after a long time and neither of you have anything to say - it's just a shame to see a situation w've all experienced and see it completely empty. It hits me that it's the most universal song that I've ever written, because that's just the way it goes. When it's there it's wonderful, and when it isn't, Phew! You can see ice cubes in the air - its like emptying a big ice cube tray all over the place.".

Why did you particularly decide to do Donald and Lydia rather than another John Prine song? "I wanted to cut one of his, and it could have been any of them at the time I didn't think anybody else would have the nerve to cut that one - I figured there'd be about four million covers of Sam Stone; and a couple of others, and I said 'There'll be enough covers of the political songs' and he told me he didn't think anyone else would cut Donald and Lydia , so I said 'This one is special'. Talk about a hot week - at one point, before all the record stuff, I think he wrote four or five of those songs in one night".

Another one you didn't write is Jazzman. "That comes from Eddie Holstein, who is a dear friend of mine. His own version is on Gathering at the Earl of the Old Town, the album where I do City of New Orleans. Eddie doesn't write much any more and that's OK - whatever he wants to do with his life is fine for me I just love the guy. he wrote four or five of the best tunes I've ever heard and they all sound like Eddie's songs, not like anybody else's. he's a bartender in Chicago now. Pure Prairie League also did Jazzman on an album and so did Tom Rush and Bonnie Koloc, and Bonnie Koloc did another of his calledVictoria's Morning. Was Rainbow road offered to you by your producer? "No, I was wondering how I could thank Kris and all those people for everything they'd done and I didn't know how he would feel about producing one of his own songs with me singing it. I loved all the guys and Kris was singing Rainbow Road; in his set and kept saying how nice it would be if someone had a hit with Donnie Fritt's good tune Rainbow Road. I said we'd do it and I arranged it, and that's one of the more commercial things on the record. The guys in Nashville really liked that one when they were doing it - they said it felt like a good track".

Probably the best known song on this album apart from City of New Orleans is You Never Even Call Me By My Name. This original version contains the lyrics which Goodman originally wrote for it. it's a pleasant song with a good chorus, in which Goodman asks for a recognition on his own account, and doesn't wish to be compared with other country stars ( although how anyone who wasn't blind could mix him up with Charlie Pride boggles the mind!) The song became a huge on-stage favourite after Goodman and John Prine added another verse which, he would announce, made it the ultimate country song, as it mentioned every country cliche; - prison, train, mother, dog etc. It also greatly increased the song's comedy quotient. Country star David Allen Coe ( The Mysterious Rhinestone Cowboy) recorded a version of with this extra version, which became a US country hit ( and remains a staple of his live show ), and Goodman also recorded a live version on his 1983 album entitled Artistic hair, released on his own red Pyjama label. this is how the last verse goes: 'Every since the dog got drunk and died and mama went to prison, Ain't nothing 'round the farm that's been the same, And you know when mom broke out last Christmas, She drove the getaway laundry truck into a train.".

Steve Goodman rarely received the acclaim his substantial talent deserved. if listening to this reissue of his debut album has been a pleasant experience, it should be of interest to learn that his second album Somebody Else's Troubles has also been reissued by Sequel records. The interview with Steve in which the above quotes appeared took place in London during August 1976, and was published in 1987 in the late lamented Omaha Rainbow, one of the finest fanzines ever published. Thanks to Peter O'Brien, it's editor, who participated in the interview with Steve, and more to the point, transcribed it....

John Tobler, 1990

Someone Else's Troubles UK Interview

After the release of his eponymous debut album on Buddah in 1971 (also available olling Stone Encyclopedia Of Rock'n'Roll (Rolling Stone Press/Michael Joseph, 1984) notes of Steve Goodman "Despite critical acclaim, Goodman's recordings never sold particularly well, and by 1973, he was still living in a $145 a month apartment". Considering his great talents as both a songwriter and a performer, fate did not smile upon Steve Goodman, although he retained his good humour - as we shall see...

After the release of his eponymous debut album on Buddah in 1971 (also available on Sequel Records NEM CD 606), Goodman was slated to make a follow-up the next year, but things didn't pan out, as he explained in an interview in London in 1976. Was it a conscious decision not to return to Nashville, where he had made the first album?

"I wanted to go and boogie, but Buddah was down on the idea - they didn't want it to be locked into a country thing, and looking back on it, in that respect they were right. I was a little disappointed...
What happened was that we came to England in the summer of 1972 to make 'Somebody Else's Troubles', and it didn't happen. There was supposed to be a producer waiting here for us and what have you, I'd rather not go into who it was, but it was a real big name producer but when we got here, he acted quite a bit like he didn't want anything to do with it. We had excursion tickets and were signing for our food in the hotel, me and Al(AI Bunetta, who managed Goodman and John Prine). "The record company had covered the hotel and tickets and we couldn't go home because of the excursion tickets, but we weren't going to be doing anything, and it turns out that was the start of my English career, because Jerry Gilbert saved my life. He used to work for 'Sounds', right? A nice guy... We'd been here for two weeks, we couldn't go home, and I had about $30 to my name, and he said 'You can't go home for another few days anyhow. Go up to Cambridge and I'll introduce you to Ken Woollard'. I slept on Woollard's floor with Cathal McConnell from The Boys Of The Lough, who's a piper and he's great, a genius, and I had a great time at the Cambridge Festival. I just walked in on the thing and ended up playing six sets and had the time of my life. I was so ready to have a good time doing anything, because everything else seemed to have fallen through.

"Back in the States, we went in the studio with Cashman & West, which lasted about an hour because I had an impression of what I wanted to do and they had another impression. Undoubtedly they were right for Jim Croce and make first rate records, and I'm proud to say I know them, but it wasn't happening - I'm sure it was at least as much my fault as anybody's in the long run. I'll take the rap - shit, maybe we would have had some hits... All that was left was Arif .Mardin, and he had always expressed interest. He cut Jackie De Shannon's 'Jackie' album" (on which De Shannon covered 'Would You Like To Learn To Dance' from Goodman's debut album) "and I'd played on two of John's albums that he produced. He got permission from Jerry Wexler and I got together some musicians and we sort of fly-by-nighted it - the thing was produced almost on weekends, and it took about three months to do the whole thing. It was mostly people who called up and asked if they could come by. I asked David Bromberg to find a piano player and it was Bob Dylan, it was one of those things. We didn't know what we were doing". Several of the musicians who played on the album were also associated with David Bromberg, including Steve Burgh (like Bromberg, a guitarist), Steve Mosley (drums, Jeff Gutcheon {piano and bass player Hugh McDonald, of whom Goodman specially noted "I'd never met Hughie McDonald, the bass player, and he played great".

How had Goodman met Bromberg "At the Philadelphia Folk Festival, or something like that We'd been good acquaintances and friends since then, but these were the guys who were playing with David on and off, Steve Burgh and the others I didn't know any musicians in New York, and here I was with Arif in New York - I think Arif rightly sensed that it probably wouldn't have been best to make the same kind of albums he was making with Aretha or The Rascals with me, yet he didn't want it to be like John (Prine)'s first album, which was made in .Memphis, and he didn't want it to be as laid-back as John's second album, 'Diamonds In The Rust', where it was just friends sitting around playing, and that didn't leave much else He could have called Cornell Dupree and al1 those guys, and in a way he stuck some of that on there - Fathead Newman played great sax on 'Chicken Cordon Bleus', and Hugh McCracken played on 'Six Hours Ahead Of The Sun' so we were leaning towards it It was just a question of whether or not we were ever gonna get it off the ground. Arif rightly sensed that it would be more comfortable to call people that either I knew or Bromberg knew, or both".

The opening track on the album (and probably the best known song included) is 'The Dutchman', written by Mike Smith During the 1970s, this became a favourite among floor singers in folk clubs, largely through Goodman's version. On the album, he's backed by .McDonald and Jack McGann - who's Jack McGann? "I had met Jack McGann in Chicago when he played on that 'Gathering At The Earl Of Old Town' album, and he was the second guitarist on 'The Dutchman' - he and I worked that out Then he had this accordion, that was sort of half an accordion - I can't remember whether it was the buttons that worked or the keyboard, but one of them didn't - and it was finished in mother of toilet seat, that sort of pearloid kind of thing He went back in and overdubbed the squeeze then I sang the harmony tracks to it There's only three musicians on that track, Hughie, Jack and me, so we could do simple things and have them come out all right If that had been a little shorter, it might have gotten more radio play - I'm as happy with that track as anything I've ever recorded' Where did Goodman come across Mike Smith who wrote the song? "In 1970, in Florida. When I was in Amsterdam last week was the first time I'd ever been to Holland, and I don't think Smith's ever been there, but he really caught the atmosphere of the place! That scared the shit out of me - I thought it was a good song, but I didn't know how good it was until last week, and now I think so even more He made an album of his own on Bell Mickey & Babs Get Hot' by Barbara Barrow and Mike Smith, Mike's own conception of what his tunes should sound like in the studio - he'll slay me for saying this, but I don't think his album is as advanced as his ability to write songs. He's one of the best song writers I've ever heard and he's a terrific live performer, but what's stupid about it is that businesswise, I guess, he's been his own worst enemy, although I don't know enough about his personal situation to be able to say much about it. He sure deserves any good fortune that comes to him from his songs and I would always press his case as such, but I don't think he'd let me produce him or anything like that not that any other record label would be interested in me doing it anyway ! It's a hard road for a songtwriter who writes as well as Mike and hasn't had a little more commercial acceptance on his own, because his stuff's really great".

Had you ever met Bob Dylan before he played on this record of yours? "No, he walked into the studio and there he was. What happened was I asked Bromberg to get a piano player, and he said 'Well, there's two guys. The one's Jeff Gutcheon, who's really good, and then there's this other guy, who's really great, but he's not that dependable'. I said 'Call Gutcheon' - he's a killer, and I've used him every chance I've had since, and he played on 'The Loving Of The Game', but before that, we did 'Somebody Else s Troubles' and a thing called 'Election Year Rag', and Dylan sings on 'Somebody Else's Troubles'. He showed up a half hour late and we had already run down 'Election Year Rag' three or four times, everybody else knew it and was feeling like they wanted to start taking it, Just to see what would happen. (Marc) Horowitz said 'Where's the piano player?', and in so many words, Bromberg said Well, he told me he would be here, so he will', and that was when I figured it out". On the album's original issue, the piano player and harmony vocalist on the title track is one Robert Milkwood Thomas. Who could that be? 'Election Year Rag' was only released initially as a single. although it was clearly recorded at the sessions for this album, and is now reunited with its siblings...

One most interesting tracks on the album is Goodman's totally unaccompanied version of 'The Ballad Of Penny Evans'. Why did he record a protest song about Vietnam? "It wasn't meant to be as such, it was just that nobody writes about anybody that's left at home. There was a point where I met a person who actually told me that story, and I was impressed with it enough that I went back - it was in Rochester, New York, and I was playing in a place called The Nugget Pizza Palace, and that's the truth! It was a pretty interesting gig - I was on the bill with The New York Rock Ensemble. We were even doing some oldies at the end of their set - I'd come back out and we'd do some oldies and ever body danced in this Pizza Palace. Have you ever seen an American basketball game? There's what they call a 24 second clock at the end of the court. The teams have 24 seconds or 30 seconds, depending on the league, to shoot the ball or to get a shot that hits the rim. If they don't, they lose possession of the ball to speed up American pro basketball. Well, they had one of those damn clocks up in the ceiling at the Pizza Palace, and it'd flash up 48, any number. What it was, they'd give you a stub when you ordered your pizza, and when it was ready, they'd flash your number up there, and there were pinball tables and a pool table out in the back.

"I was playing there and this girl actually told me the story. I'd heard Louis Killen sing 'The Flying Cloud' a couple of times, and when I went back to the hotel to write the song, it was to the tune of 'The Flying Cloud' with the exception of a few notes. It scanned like it, so I decided that rather than making something up that wouldn't be half as appropriate, it sounded like that kind of time, and that was how that happened. In fact, she lives in Boston now, she's re-married. At one point, I wasn't sure that she'd been telling me all the facts, or she might have made up some of it, or imagined it before she even told it to me, but I guess that wasn't the case, and it turns out it was all pretty much the way it was told to me. I've since met a couple of people who were in the same situation, so I guess that's who the song's for. The only reason I still do it is not because I feel like I have anything I want to say to anybody - one of the things I'm really trying to avoid is preaching".

There must be a good story behind 'The Lincoln Park Pirates'... "There's a towing company called The Lincoln Towing Company, although they've moved off Lincoln Avenue on to Fourth Avenue. There are still signs up over most of the North Side saying 90 minute parkingviolators will be towed away at the owner's expense'. Depending on which parking lot you pull into, next to an apartment building or something, the landlord pays Lincoln Towing a fee to patrol that area, but they were taking away cars from parking meters for a while - there was this whole big expose on them in the press and everything. Guys would come out from the grocery store and their car would be up on the tow truck and they'd say 'Well, I'm here now - go ahead and put the thing down', but it wouldn't happen and the car would be towed away anyhow. It didn't happen to me personally, but a good friend of mine suggested I do something about it. I said 'What's it about?', and he said 'It's all over the newspapers and the radio - people have been trying to get rid of this guy for five years'. And that was right after I'd seen 'Treasure Island', the Disney version with Robert Newton, so it was just a natural progression". The chorus of backing vocalists on this track includes Eddie Brigati, once of The (Young) Rascals, and his brother, David Brigati - no doubt the result of Arif Mardin's presence - while on Don't Do Me Any Favours Any More', Maria Muldaur is the harmony vocalist. Presumably, 'Song For David' was based on a real person... 'Yeah, that's my younger brother, who went through some difficult times. He's a helluva photographer, and took the album cover for my last album, although I'd never gotten to avail myself of his services before. I don't know the thing about families and siblings... the guy that the record company has driving us around from place to place when we needed a car and was telling us that he hadn't seen his father since he was four and he finally talked to him again last week. He hadn't seen his brother for 30 years or something and they both live in England, which isn't too damned big when you think about it! The song's about a particular time in my brother's life, one of the few times that I could honestly say I was getting to know the guy. He was my brother, I lived with him long enough, so I was just trying to address myself to a specific thing there. If there's anything universal in it, that was an accident and it happened later".

'Chicken Cordon Bleus' seems a little more universal. You're not a vegetarian, are you - vegetarians worry me... "No, and they worry me too, but I've got a road manager now who's a vegetarian, and we've been hard pressed to feed him every now and then, but he does OK for the most part. He's a helluva worker and he has to do a lot of schlepping and what have you from time to time, and it doesn't seem to affect him one bit, so I don't have anything to say about that any more. What happened was the girl who runs the Philadelphia Folk Festival and a girl friend of hers were sitting around her apartment, and I had this blues tune we were messing about with, and that's what came out. It was extremely fortunate that it did, and it predated 'Junk Food Junkie', although I think that song was around for a couple of year before it was a hit". The Larry Groce single of 'Junk Food Junkie' didn't make it here... "I would have thought that here would be the place it made it - to so many people who visit this place from around the world, all the food here is junk!'' We know where the good places are - we just don't tell tourists, so that they don't get too crowded. You can whisper in my ear... I found a couple of good sea food houses, but that seems to be the rap on English food compared to the Continent or whatever - everybody here seems to be surviving on it quite well, so I'm sure it's not that horrible".

Why is there a picture of Jimmy Buffett on the cover of this album and why is he referred to as Marvin Gardens? "He was staying at my house and on the cover there's a plant right hehind his head. He was standing right in front of one of Nancy's plants, and Marvin Gardens is one of the streets on the American 'Monopoly' board, so he just thought that would be an interesting joke, and that's what he did The guy on the right of the picture is Eddie Holstein, who wrote 'Jazzman' which is on my first album, and that's his brother Freddie next to him On the left side, that's the Earl Of Old Town, Earl Pionke, who's Godfather to my kids and owns The Earl Of Old Town. There's a bar called 'Somebody Else's Troubles' now in Chicago - it's probably a better name for a bar than a song, but it's a pub that has folk music in it. Now Earl's one of the most respected people around the Chicago scene" Next to Pionke is Goodman's great friend John Prine, and Goodman's wife Nancy, and daughter, Jessie, are also in the picture with him "Jimmy was staying with us because he was playing 'The Quiet Night' or something none of us were making much money, and we had a sofa bed We met when we saw each other playing in a club somewhere - when one of us had finished a gig, we'd go over to the club where someone else was playing There was a real camaraderie about the whole scene then, which is still there, and it's getting international - there's a certain stage when nobody takes themselves so seriously that they can't do stuff like that, or that they're not willing to take someone in" Goodman and Buffett co-wrote 'Door Number Three', which Goodman recorded on his third album, 'Jessie's Jig And Other Favorites' and Buffett included on his 1974 album, 'A1A', with Goodman playing guitar, and they also co-wrote 'Woman Goin' Crazy On Caroline Street', which appears on Buffett's 1975 album 'Havana Daydreamin".

'Somebody Else's Troubles' was Steve Goodman's second and final album recorded for Buddah, although a double album compilation, 'The Essential Steve Goodman', was released in 1976, after Goodman signed with Asylum Records, for whom he made several albums, including 'Jessie's Jig' (1975), 'Words We Can Dance To' (1976) and 'Say It In Private' (1978), By the 1980s, Goodman, who had suffered from leukemia since the early 1970s, was in poor health, but by 1983, he had launched his own record label, Red Pajamas, with the help of his manager, Al Bunetta. The first album to be released on the label was a live album by Goodman, 'Artistic Hair', which showed an almost bald Goodman, perhaps the result of treatment aimed at curing his ailment Soon afterwards came 'Affordable Art', part of which was also live recordings, and then 'Santa Ana Winds', on which Emmylou Harris and Kris Kristofferson guested.

On September 20th, 1984, Steve Goodman died from kidney and liver failure after a bone marrow transplant operation. Only 36 years old, he spent nearly half his short life suffering from a killer disease, yet he wrote many superb songs and made a number of albums which stand the test of time, yet have still to receive the acclaim they so obviously deserve. Goodman didn't appear on the fourth album on Red Pajamas, released after his death it was a double album titled ' Tribute To Steve Goodman', and among those paying their musical respects to a man they adored and admired were John Prine, whose career he helped to launch, and who duets with Bonnie Raitt on a superb version of Prine's 'Angel From Montgomery', Arlo Guthrie, who took Goodman's classic song, 'City Of New Orleans', into the US Top 90, Michael Smith, who sings his own version of 'The Dutchman', John Hartford, David Bromberg, Fred Holstein, The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band and many more None of these excellent Red Pajamas Records have ever been domestically available in the UK - if vou have enjoyed what you've heard on these two Sequel reissues, please write to the label saying you'd be interested in hearing some more.

Thanks again to Peter O'Brien

John Tobler, 1990