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Derailing "City of New Orleans"


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THE CHICAGO WAY | Denver made cloying version of beloved Goodman song his own -- until folk singer Guthrie got on board

BY TOM McNAMEE Sun-Times Columnist

Here's a story about Chicago, Thanksgiving Day and right and wrong, featuring Steve Goodman, Arlo Guthrie and John Denver.

Goodman is the much-beloved singer and songwriter who grew up in Albany Park and the suburbs. He was terrific in his day, fought leukemia all his adult life and died too young. That's him singing "Go, Cubs, Go" at Wrigley Field after every Cubs win.

He's the Chicago part of this story.

Guthrie is the popular folk singer -- and the stand-up guy, as you will see -- who scored a big hit when he recorded "City of New Orleans," the now-classic train song written by Goodman. Every year on Thanksgiving Day, WXRT plays Guthrie's loopy old hippie song, "Alice's Restaurant" -- all 18 minutes and 20 seconds of it.

That qualifies Guthrie for the Thanksgiving Day hook in this story.

And then there's Denver, a big star and a real turkey.

He's the right and wrong of the story, or at least the wrong.

The whole tale, in impressive detail, is told in an exhaustive new Goodman biography, Steve Goodman: Facing the Music, by Clay Eals.

You can read the rest of the article here:


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