Facing the Music
?Steve Goodman wrote “Good mornin’ America, how are ya” into the nation’s consciousness, becoming one of the most respected singer/songwriters of the 1970s and early 80s. With warmth and wit, he charmed better-known peers, top critics, and countless fans. Yet this 5-foot-2 troubadour nearly lost his chance at adult life. Diagnosed with leukemia at age 20, Goodman kept it a secret for 16 years as he sang for a generation that assumed it would live forever.This biography scrutinizes a theme that Goodman knew all too well: when death is imminent, we grasp that life is about connecting with others. Goodman’s childhood, the untold full story of “City of New Orleans,” his launching by the unlikely duo of Kris Kristofferson and Paul Anka, his teaming with “wild and crazy” Steve Martin for more than 200 shows, his landmark recordings and two Grammy awards all get extensive attention in this biography. The book delves into his personal and professional life, drawing on over 850 original interviews with Goodman’s family, childhood and adult friends, and a diversity of celebrities.“From the cradle to the crypt, it’s a mighty short trip,” Goodman wrote in a song shortly before his 1984 death. This biography verifies that the universality of his work — hilarious, political, romantic, or all three rolled into one — resonates deeply in today’s musical firmament.
Clay Eals has written for several regional newspapers, including the Portland Oregonian. He is the editor of West Side Story, and the author of Every Time a Bell Rings, a biography of Karolyn Grimes, who played Zuzu in It’s a Wonderful Life. He lives in Seattle, Washington.