Wednesday, March 10, 2010

No, Monsters Won’t Learn To Dance

Black-eyed sweet thing
Sugar loose
Won’t you call me when I’m clean
Off of one-way juice
Momma I’m a jazzman
With them sunny land blues
Just off the street
And trying a trick or two
A trick or two
A trick or two
Momma I’m a jazzman
Trying a trick or two

Jazzman,” Steve Goodman

H/T to Steve Goodman’s biographer
Clay Eals for pointing out to me
“Jazzman” was written by
Ed Holstein. Check out
Clay’s biography of Steve
Goodman at Clay’s website:

Steve Goodman: Facing the Music
by Clay Eals

There used to be a thing called “folk music.”

The genre still exists, of course, but the whole context is gone. The social context, I mean. And the musical context. It’s impossible, now, for someone to understand the weird reality of folk singing. Folk was the butt of endless jokes ( Martin Mull: “That crap almost caught on!” ) but at the same time even the people making the jokes never made a secret of their affection for “good” folk singers. So far as I’m aware there was never a widely accepted practical definition of what actually constituted “good.” But everyone knew it when they heard it. “Good” folk singers sometimes ventured into pop, or rock, or jazz. But the farther they got from simple performances the more other people—usually correctly!—made jokes.

Everything is slick and polished now so those kind of jokes aren’t as common. Unfortunately the good stuff has disappeared along with the laughable stuff.

I first mentioned this when I posted a YouTube video of Bob Dylan singing “Simple Twist of Fate.” In that post I also mentioned Joni Mitchell and Steve Goodman. I’ve posted a couple of songs from Joni Mitchell.

But I haven’t put up anything by Steve Goodman and, I strongly suspect, most people have never heard Steve Goodman play or sing. Or—what’s kind of worse—if people have heard Steve Goodman they’ve probably heard heavily produced, pop versions of his songs designed by record executives to “transcend” the folk “boundaries.”

Yech. For instance the version of “Jazzman” on iTunes is a slick production that captures none of the cool magic of Steve Goodman playing and singing.

But YouTube does have a video of Steve Goodman playing and singing one of my favorite songs of all time, “Would You Like To Learn To Dance?”

Steve Goodman was an amazing musician. A folk singer. This video doesn’t capture everything of his incredible energy and his wild sense of humor when performing. But it captures something of the quiet beauty and poetry of his writing, playing and singing.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

“Simple Twist of Fate”

Crown And Tiara

What Love Looks Like In Words

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