From the Vault...


Steve Goodman
"Affordable Art"

© Red Pajama Records

Year of Release: 1983

track listing
  • If Jethro Were Here
  • Vegematic
  • Old Smoothies
  • Talk Backwards
  • How Much Tequila
    (Did I Drink Last Night)
  • When My Rowboat Comes In
  • Souvenirs
  • Take Me Out
    To The Ballgame
  • A Dying Cub Fan's
    Last Request
  • California Promises
  • Watchin' Joey Glow
  • Grand Canyon Song

  • WSVNRadio Archives
    A B C D E F G H I J K L M
    N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

    Steve Goodman related sites:
    Steve Goodman Website
    Previous Review: #605
    Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers--Into The Great Wide Open
    Next Review: #607
    Savoy Brown--Hellbound Train
    Steve Goodman
    "Affordable Art"

    Steve Goodman's music features folk, and his lyrics labeled him as a storyteller. His 1983 release, Affordable Art, features some very impressive storytelling tunes.

    The album starts out with the only instrumental, If Jethro Were Here, a folksy tune featuring Goodman on mandola. It also has a somewhat new-age jazz sound to it.

    Vegematic tells the story of a dream Goodman had, in which he answers every late night mail order ads. To name a few items received in the dream were a vegematic, a pocket fisherman, History of Life magazine, a Boxcar Willie album, a Ginsu knife, a bamboo steamer, a Garden Weasel, and a tie dyed day-glow souvenir shirt from Six Flags Over Burbank.

    Old Smoothies is a slow peaceful folk ballad, and Talk Backwards has a very humorous touch, where it has a novelty sound to it, where talking backwards can be a new sensation.

    How Much Tequila (Did I Drink Last Night) has a more upbeat rock tempo than folk music, where this song could easily be recorded by country performers and/or Jimmy Buffett.

    When My Rowboat Comes In is another peaceful ballad, where all in all, whatever weather prevails, the rowboat will make everything all right wherever you go rowin'.

    Souvenirs features great accoustic guitars as Goodman is joined on vocals with John Prine. This song is perfect for an MTV UnPlugged event. Take Me Out To The Ballgame is the traditional tune heard in the 7th-inning stretch in baseball, yet Goodman's version has some fancing plucking on the accoustic guitar in the style of guitar great Chet Atkins.

    A Dying Cub Fan's Last Request is a song about a dying Cub fan. (Maybe it was Goodman himself -- Affordable Art was released in 1983. Goodman was dying of leukemia, and passed away the following year in 1984.) All Cub fans ask the mighty question, "When will we see the Cubs in a World Series, and hopefully win?" I think Goodman sang it best when he said: But the last time the Cubs won a National League pennant was the year that we dropped the bomb on Japan.

    The chorus is also just as great:

    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?
    When I was a boy
    They were my pride and joy,
    But now they only bring fatigue
    To the home of the brave, the land of the free
    And the door-mat of the National League

    Course we can't really complain about the 1998 Cubs. They made it to the playoffs, but couldn't get past Atlanta. Despite they didn't make it the World Series, Sammy Sosa broke Roger Maris' homerun record, as he was neck-in-neck in having the most homers with St. Louis' Mark McGuire.

    California Promises is another great ballad with beautiful musical arrangements. Watchin' Joey Glow is another upbeat rock tune like How Much Tequila (Did I Drink Last Night). The album ends with another UnPlugged-type song, Grand Canyon Song. This one is a little bit bluesy mixed with a folk touch.

    Defining folk music, Steve Goodman's Affordable Art can be compared to such artists as Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, Harry Chapin, Jim Croce, Jimmy Buffett, and the novelty of Larry Groce's Junk Food Junkie. It can also be compared to Bruce Springsteen's Nebraska album.

    Steve Goodman was a genius. His music has always been highly praised by those who knew him and by those who were inspired by his music. He originally wrote the song City Of New Orleans, recorded most famous by Arlo Guthrie. While he was alive, his albums never achieved the high-rank status it should of deserved.

    Affordable Art is truly enjoyable, as we recognize Steve Goodman's humor in common-day living. It's a shame he only lived 36 years, as a result of leukemia.

    It would be an obvious choice to discover or re-discover Steve Goodman's music. His music is truly enjoyable and never tiring. Affordable Art truly passes those tests, and it's an album I will always playing enjoy again and again.

    © All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Red Pajama Records and is used for reference purposes only.

    Previous Review: #605
    Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers--Into The Great Wide Open
    Next Review: #607
    Savoy Brown--Hellbound Train