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Lakeview post office renamed for Steve Goodman: Obama signs Quigley bill

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WASHINGTON--President Obama signed into law on Tuesday a bill renaming the Lakeview post office for folksinger and songwriter Steve Goodman, a North Side Chicago native.

Goodman died in 1984 at the age of 36 from leukemia after a string of songs that became classics: "City of New Orleans," "Lincoln Park Pirates" and "Go Cubs Go."

Though Goodman's family moved to the suburbs--he graduated Maine East High School--Rep. Mike Quigley (D-Ill.) honored Goodman's North Side roots in pushing for Goodman to be honored at the post office at 1343 W. Irving Park. A musical celebration and a plaque to mark the renaming will take place this fall, Quigley said.


"While most Chicagoans know him for the song we sing after every Cubs' win, Steve Goodman's contributions reach far beyond the ivy-covered walls of Wrigley," said Quigley in a statement. "Goodman was one of the most prolific American songwriters and performers of our time whose songs have been played by Willie Nelson, Jimmy Buffett, and John Denver and whose short but tremendous life reminds us how one person can impact so many others. I'm happy to see the President sign this bill into law and I look forward to this fall's musical celebration."

below, release from Quigley....

Quigley Bill to Name Post Office for Musician Steve Goodman Signed into Law
Songwriter created "Go Cubs Go," "City of New Orleans," devoted life to Chicago, music
CHICAGO - Today, U.S. Representative Mike Quigley (D-IL) announced that his bill to name a Chicago post office for the late songwriter Steve Goodman was signed into law by President Barack Obama. A ceremony to commemorate the renaming will take place this fall.

Quigley's effort to memorialize and celebrate Goodman's life at the Lakeview Post Office, located at 1343 W. Irving Park Road, has the full support of the Illinois Congressional delegation, the Old Town School of Folk Music, and a growing list of local and nationally known recording artists.

"While most Chicagoans know him for the song we sing after every Cubs' win, Steve Goodman's contributions reach far beyond the ivy-covered walls of Wrigley," said Quigley. "Goodman was one of the most prolific American songwriters and performers of our time whose songs have been played by Willie Nelson, Jimmy Buffett, and John Denver and whose short but tremendous life reminds us how one person can impact so many others. I'm happy to see the President sign this bill into law and I look forward to this fall's musical celebration."

Steve Goodman was among the group of talented Chicago songwriters who emerged from the 1960s folk scene that began at Old Town School and emigrated to the Earl of Old Town, the Fifth Peg, and ultimately the whole country. Along with John Prine, Bonnie Koloc, Bob Gibson, and a host of others, Steve Goodman made Chicago one of the focal points of the American folk music scene. Goodman's monumental "City of New Orleans," made famous by Arlo Guthrie and Willie Nelson, was a celebration of railroading and the American Midwest. The song earned him one of his two posthumous Grammy Awards.

Most remarkable, however, is that Goodman crafted such an illustrious music career while battling leukemia for 15 years until his death at age 36 in 1984. On the day he was scheduled to sing the "Star Spangled Banner," Jimmy Buffett filled in and dedicated the national anthem to his friend at Wrigley Field, where Goodman's ashes were later scattered and his song is still sung after every Cubs' win. In 2007, then-Lt. Governor Pat Quinn declared October 5th to be "Steve Goodman Day" in the State of Illinois. (A full biography is available below.)

"It is entirely fitting for Steve Goodman to be recognized through the naming of a post office - a public building used indiscriminately by everybody, from all walks of life, in the course of pursuing the business of everyday life, which provided the inspiration for so much of his life's work," said James Bau Graves, Executive Director of the Old Town School of Folk Music. "On behalf of the Old Town community, I enthusiastically lend our voices in support of this effort."

Along with Graves, musicians Prine, Koloc, and Corky Siegel have submitted a letter in support of Quigley's initiative.

Post offices have been renamed by Congressional law since 1971. Steve Goodman becomes the second honoree in the 5th District joining Roger McAuliffe, a member of the Chicago Police Department and Illinois House of Representatives, who was recognized at the 6441 W. Irving Park USPS location in 1996. Except in special cases for high-ranking officials such as the President of the United States, post offices may only be named in honor of the deceased.

Steve Goodman Biography

Steve Goodman is perhaps best known by Chicagoans and Cubs fans as the writer and performer of "Go Cubs Go", the song that plays at Wrigley Field following Cubs' wins. But while this song may bring him notoriety, Steve Goodman's life was an inspiration for many other reasons. Be it the courage and perseverance that characterized his 15-year battle with leukemia, his celebrated contributions to American folk music, or the general enthusiasm and good humor with which he approached life, Steve Goodman was a great Chicagoan by all accounts.

Goodman's career in folk music featured both exemplary writing and performance. Besides his Cubs-related music, Goodman released 10 albums of folk music and five albums of his work have been released posthumously. He received two Grammy Awards, both posthumously, for his writing of the hit "City of New Orleans" and his album Unfinished Business. In fact, "City of New Orleans" was a top-20 hit for Arlo Guthrie in 1972, and a number one country music hit for Willie Nelson in 1985, the year that Goodman won his first Grammy.

Goodman's singing career was centered largely around the folk music clubs of Chicago, and Goodman wrote and performed many classic songs about the city, including two well known songs about the Chicago Cubs - "The Dying Cub Fan's Last Request" and "Go, Cubs, Go." Other great Chicago-related songs of Goodman's include "The Lincoln Park Pirates," about the notorious Lincoln Towing Company, and "Daley's Gone," eulogizing the late Mayor Richard J. Daley.

The Old Town School of Folk Music played a major role in Goodman's music career. He studied at the School in the 1960s with folk music luminaries such as Roger McGuinn of the Byrds, Bob Gibson, Bonnie Koloc, and his good friend John Prine. Along with these artists, Goodman helped build the School's reputation as home to many of folk music's greatest writers and performers.

Most remarkable, however, is that Goodman crafted such an illustrious music career while battling leukemia for 15 years until his death at age 36. He endured his fight with courage and good humor - it's said that he nicknamed himself "Cool Hand Leuk" - and tragically died in 1984 just eleven days before his beloved Cubs played their first playoff game at Wrigley Field since 1945. Goodman had been asked to sing the "Star Spangled Banner" before that game, but Jimmy Buffett filled in and dedicated it to his friend. Goodman's ashes were later spread at Wrigley Field, and his memory lives on every time the Cubs win a home game and thousands happily sing along to "Go Cubs Go."

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1 Comment

Steve was the best live performer around....One little guy could do so much with one guitar and a voice.

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Lynn Sweet

Lynn Sweet is a columnist and the Washington Bureau Chief for the Chicago Sun-Times.

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This page contains a single entry by Lynn Sweet published on August 3, 2010 2:33 PM.

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