Words We Can Dance To
My God, have we really been without Steve Goodman for 28 years? I used to have Words We Can Dance To on vinyl, except I didn't know it was called that because the copy I bought was some kind of demo, with blank labels apart from a stencilled "Steve Goodman" on the (blank) sleeve. In the days before Google it took a little detective work to get the track names and album title, but I managed. I'd bought it because I found it in the shop (I'm ashamed to say I can't remember its name) where I bought most of my records as a student: well, it sold new and second-hand, and it was unavoidably on my route from college to the Chemistry Department, so what's a music-lover to do? I took it to the guy who ran the shop (a bit like John Cusack in High Fidelity) and asked him to put it on. He did so, and what I now realise was Side Two sprang to life, thusly.
I knew of Steve Goodman, inevitably I suppose, because of my older brother who had seen him at the Cambridge Folk Festival in (I think) 1973. Now they're both gone. I knew Goodman had written City of New Orleans, which I knew from the Arlo Guthrie hit. My brother had an earlier album of his, which featured this wonderful cover of a John Prine song I found myself singing today (it's been pissing down with rain in Edinburgh all day). A wonderful lyric which only Prine could have written, but sung brilliantly here by Goodman.
Whatever the virtues of Mr Peabody's Coal Train, this was the song that made me decide that I liked John Prine's songwriting.