Tuesday Tunes: Diamond Ditty #12 – “A Dying Cubs Fan’s Last Request” by Steve Goodman

25 10 2016

I’m a Reds fan but I’ve always had a soft spot for the Cubs.  My mom is from Chicago and I live there now.  My Grandfather lived there for most of his 90+ years, and growing up I always associated the Cubs with “Grumpa”.  He passed away last winter and I’m hoping they win the title because I know it would make him smile.  With the World Series starting tonight, I thought this would be appropriate.

steve-goodman-affordable-art

Artist/Title/Album: “A Dying Cubs Fan’s Last Request” by Steve Goodman (Affordable Art, 1984)

Also Included on No Big Surprise (1994), a posthumous collection of Goodman’s songs

Steve Goodman No Big Surprise

Description:  The song was written in the early 1980’s by folk singer Steve Goodman, a lifelong Chicagoan and Cubs fan.  Goodman originally wrote the song in early 1983, debuting it on Roy Leonard’s WGN Radio Show.  The song laments about the Cubs historic failures; naturally, it wasn’t played at Wrigley Field.  Goodman is talking (as opposed to singing) for most of the song.

This song eventually led to a more upbeat song in 1984, when WGN asked Goodman to pen a song they could use on their broadcasts.  Thus “Go Cubs Go” was born.  WGN played that song on their Opening Day broadcast that year, and it caught on as the Cubs made the playoffs for the first time in almost 4 decades.

Goodman was a Grammy-winning folk singer born in Chicago who got his break when he opened at a Chicago show for Kris Kristofferson.  This led to a string of events in which his song, “City of New Orleans” was covered by Arlo Guthrie.  The Guthrie cover got to #18 on the Billboard Hot 100 list, and enabled Goodman to work full-time as a musician.  A number of other famous musicians covered it, including Willie Nelson whose recording reached #1 on the Billboard Hot Country list.  That recording earned Goodman a Grammy for Best Country Song in 1985.  Goodman won a 2nd posthumous Grammy for his album “Unfinished Business” in 1988.

How it’s related to baseball:  The song describes an old Cubs fan on his deathbed.  It’s tongue in cheek – the man laments the anguish from being a Cubs fan and asks to have his funeral at Wrigley.  Everyone can have a frosty malt 2 peanut bags, and his ashes will get blown out onto Waveland Avenue.

Sadly, the song is kind of about Goodman himself.  Though he was a successful musician, he battled Leukemia for most of his adult life and died a year or so after this song was written. He succumbed to a 15-year battle with Leukemia a few days before the end of the 1984 season.  Jimmy Buffett sang the National Anthem in his friend’s stead at the first playoff game at Wrigley that year.

Steve Goodman Cubs singles

Do they still play the blues in Chicago
When baseball season rolls around
When the snow melts away,
Do the Cubbies still play
In their ivy-covered burial ground

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