Steve Goodman was a folk singer best known for the song "City of New Orleans," later performed by Arlo Guthrie. By 1969, after a brief sojourn in New York City's Washington Square, Goodman was performing at the Earl of Old Town in Chicago and attending Lake Forest College.
After marrying Nancy Pruter, Goodman began signing and writing advertising jingles in 1969. Around the same time, Goodman was playing at a bar called the Quiet Knight on a double bill with Kris Kristofferson. When Paul Anka stopped in to hear Kristofferson, he was impressed enough by Goodman that he arranged for 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 agreed on the condition that Goodman also bought him a beer. Goodman played City of New Orleans which Guthrie liked enough that he asked for the right to record it. Goodman's own success 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 wrote many humorous songs about Chicago, including two about the Chicago Cubs: "A Dying Cubs Fan's Last Request" and "Go, Cubs, Go." Others included "The Lincoln Park Pirates" 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.
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 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. 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.