Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Born and raised in Chicago, Illinois, Goodman began writing and performing songs as a teenager. By 1969, after a brief sojourn in New York City's Washington Square, Goodman was a regular performer at the well-known Earl of Old Town folk music club in Chicago, while attending Lake Forest College. During this time Goodman also married Nancy Pruter, and paid bills by writing and singing advertising jingles.
It was also during this time that Goodman wrote many of his most enduring songs, including "City of New Orleans", the song which would become most associated with Goodman. Goodman's songs first appeared on a locally-produced record, Gathering at the Earl of Old Town , in 1971.
In 1971, Goodman was playing at a Chicago bar called the Quiet Knight as the opening act for Kris Kristofferson. Kristofferson, impressed with Goodman, introduced him to Paul Anka who brought Goodman to New York to record some demos; these resulted in Goodman signing a contract with Buddah Records.
Seeing Arlo Guthrie in a bar, Goodman asked to be allowed to play a song for him. Guthrie grudgingly agreed; Goodman played "City of New Orleans" which Guthrie liked enough that he asked for the right to record it. Guthrie's version of the song became a hit in 1972, and provided Goodman with enough financial success to make his music a full-time career. The song would become an American standard, covered by many other musicians including Johnny Cash, Judy Collins, and Willie Nelson.
In 1974, singer David Allen Coe achieved considerable success on the country charts with Goodman's "You Never Even Call Me By My Name", a song which good-naturedly spoofed stereotypical country music lyrics.
Goodman's own success as a recording artist was more limited. Although known in folk circles as a great song writer and highly influential, his albums received more critical than commercial success.
Goodman's singing career remained centered around the folk music clubs of Chicago, and Goodman wrote and performed many humorous songs about the city, including two about the Chicago Cubs: "The Dying Cub Fan's Last Request" and "Go, Cubs, Go." Others included "The Lincoln Park Pirates", about the notorious Lincoln Towing Company, and "Daley's Gone," about Mayor Richard J. Daley. He could also write serious songs, most notably "My Old Man," a tribute to Goodman's father, Bud Goodman, a used car salesman.
Goodman was closely involved with the Old Town School of Folk Music , where he met and mentored his good friend, John Prine.
Around the time Goodman's career began to take off, he was diagnosed with leukemia. The entire time he was writing and signing, he was also fighting cancer. On September 20, 1984, Goodman died at University of Washington Hospital in Seattle, Washington . Eleven days later, the Chicago Cubs, the baseball team Goodman rooted for and wrote two songs about, would play their first play-off game since 1945 at Wrigley Field.
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